Who was responsible for enrollment projections provided to the community?
Summary: Dr. John Kasarda was hired to analyze past and future enrollment trends in anticipation of the 2007 referendum. Kasarda’s 2006 report was not released to the community. The referendum was about building two elementary schools in additional to renovations of existing schools and technology. The administration and board stated that the enrollment projections they used were verified by Dr. Kasarda. When the 2006 report was released on March 19, 2012 and the numbers were compared, the projections used were much higher that any of those submitted by Dr. Kasarda. The unknown factor is whether the high projections led the public to conclude it was essential to build? The referendum passed by only 100 votes. The Geneva School District projections were critical points on which voters based their decision to proceed with building two new elementary schools and begin other renovations. The referendum was projected to cost about $80 million (sixty percent for the two schools and forty percent for the other items).
Consider this timeline based on information on the school website www.geneva304.org.
• Dr. John Kasarda, a school demographer was hired to complete an enrollment analysis for the years 2007-2012 using past enrollment and future growth as the foundation of his report.
• Based on school board minutes, the board was presented enrollment projections in February 2006. While not mentioned by name, it is assumed that these projections were from Dr. Kasarda. Kasarda provided three sets of numbers: least expected (A), most expected (B) and absolute maximum (C) enrollments. Updated numbers were provided in November 2006.
• In June 2006 the board approved the 10 Year Facilities Master Plan and planned a referendum for Spring 2007 totaling more than $79 million dollars.
• With the support of the administration and school board, Geneva Citizens for Excellent Schools (GCES) began a marketing campaign for approval of the referendum. By Illinois law a school district cannot "market" or try to influence voters in a referendum, but a PAC can. Two school board members were named as board liaisons with GCES. Several public forums were held and 15 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) were discussed and published on the school's website. The FAQs included information about past enrollment projections and their accuracy. The district stated that past projections were 99% accurate and that the current projections were verified by Dr. Kasarda.
• While it was not made clear to the community, Geneva Citizens for Excellent Schools is a Political Action Committee (PAC) whose sole purpose is to obtain approval of Geneva school referendums. The majority amount of GCES’s funding comes from companies that have done or planned to do business with Geneva CUSD 304.
• In April, 2007, the referendum was approved by 100 votes (2,495 to 2,395).
• Because the district’s debt was in excess of 13.8% of the district’s Equalized Assessment Value (EAV) premium bonds had to be issued. Bottom line, the referendum requested $79,990,000 but it was broken into at least two issues. The first issue of $64,990,000, when the premium was included, totaled $112,089,063. The actual bond issue is explained in this document on page 11.
• At a board retreat meeting videoed on March 17th, the administration and board agreed that they followed Dr. Kasarda’s 2006 most expected projections (B) for the 2007 referendum (use shortcut 4.3 in dropdown list). Two Kasarda reports, the 2006 and an updated 2011, were posted on the Geneva CUSD 304 website after the meeting.
• A subsequent review of the projections from the 2006 report, by concerned taxpayers, indicates that the administration and board did not follow the Kasarda most expected projections (B) as the community was told. The projections used by the administration and school board for the 2007 referendum were higher than Dr. Kasarda’s absolute maximum projections (C)? After being asked to explain the difference in Kasarda’s projections vs. those given to the community, the school board refused to answer saying a discussion would not be a good use of their time as the data was five years old?
Why did the school district pay a consultant for three reports from 2006 to 2011 but not use his numbers?
Who did verify and supply the projections that were published in FAQ’s to inform the voters?