D-64 “Freeloaders” Have Legit Beef About Unexplained Fees


Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 is in near the end of the first go-round on its new proof-of-residency registration process. This process is intended to reduce, if not eliminate, the non-resident parasites who enroll and keep their kids in D-64 schools even though they don’t live in the District and pay taxes for its schools.

The process seems pretty straightforward and understandable, as demonstrated by the form employed.

Which may explain why we have yet to hear any of the wailing and gnashing of teeth about how such a process would be “too burdensome” and a “pain in the neck” for parents/guardians to prove the D-64 residency of their students. That was what former (Hallelujah!) Board member John Heyde and Scott (Mini-Heyde) Zimmerman predicted when arguing against the District’s implementing the residency check several months ago.

But while complaints about the residency checks seem to be missing, we are hearing the annoying call of that not-rare-enough species of D-64 resident whose scientific name is cheapskatias Park Ridgianis, which for shorthand purposes we have nicknamed “freeloader.”

The freeloader’s call is a piercing screech which it emits whenever it is charged for anything related to the “free” $14,000/year education to which it believes each of its kids is entitled by virtue of the payment of $3-4-5-6,000 a year in property taxes to D-64. And it is being heard earlier than usual because, as part of the new registration process, D-64 is requiring the payment of next year’s student fees by June 1 instead of by the customary July 31.

According to the District’s website and fee schedule, the fees “[f]or the 7th consecutive year…will remain unchanged” at $84 for Pre-K/K, $227 for Grades 1-5, and $315 for Grades 6, although for some undisclosed reason they will cover only about 52% of the District’s annual costs for instructional resources and technology – with the balance presumably being hung on the taxpayers. If you’re financially strapped, however, you can apply for a Student Fee Waiver by filling out this form, although the District’s legal counsel either wasn’t consulted or was asleep at the switch for not requiring it to be sworn and notarized like most commercial financial statements.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: only shameless freeloaders would beef about having to pay those relatively nominal fees for educations costing $14,000 per student per year.

As best as we can tell, even the owner of the most expensive house in town doesn’t pay $14,000 a year in property taxes to D-64, so he/she is money ahead even with only 1 kid in D-64 schools. And those residents who run multiple kids through the schools and pay considerably less than $14,000 a year in taxes to D-64 – anybody whose total tax bill is less than $21,000, of which less than $7,000 goes to D-64 – might be able to game the system for tens of thousands of dollars of subsidized education, especially if they pack up and move out of the District once they’ve used up all the free schooling.

Hence the term “freeloaders.”

But just because they’re freeloaders doesn’t mean they aren’t right about D-64 being tone deaf, inept, or just plain arrogant for continuing to ignore the freeloaders’ call for a “line item” description of the components of those fee amounts.

We can think of no justification whatsoever for the District’s continuing failure to provide such detailed information. Nor can we, frankly, think of any justification for the District’s charging parents only 52% of the total cost of whatever expenses those fees are supposed to cover, especially if the taxpayers are picking up 48% of those expenses.

So it’s time (actually, it’s well past the time) for Board president Tony Borrelli and a majority of the D-64 Board to demand that grossly-overpaid Finance czarina Becky Allard put together a line-item listing of exactly what charges comprise those annual student fees.  And once that mystery is solved, Borrelli and the Board should explain what particular public policy considerations demand that only 52% – and not 100%, or 90%, or even 20% – of those charges are assessed to the parents.

We’re confident that won’t shut up the most vocal freeloaders, but it’s still the right thing to do.

And the Board has put off doing it long enough.

To read or post comments, click on title.

12 comments so far

You’ve lost sight of the concept that the next generation of taxpayers do not comprise depreciating personal property of their parents, but resources our country needs to make the most of, and like any resource, needs cultivating early. That’s why taxes cover most public education costs. However, you’re absolutely right about parents getting an itemized billing for fees. It’s amazing what demanding a little accountability and explanation for ballpark figures does to get those costs justified or reduced. All public bodies need to ask the questions of management, and it’s not a one-time thing: It’s a tireless series of reasonable (not nit-picking) questions that establish a culture of accountability, where staff knows they need their ducks in a row before the vote meeting.

EDITOR’S NOTE: And you’ve lost sight – or never saw in the first place – that the current value of personal or real property, either appreciating or depreciating, can be realistically determined in real time by a competent appraiser. On the other hand, those “resources our country needs to make the most of” – by which we assume you mean human capital in the form of educated children – aren’t similarly measurable in real time, and often aren’t measurable at all for the vast majority of students.

Are you saying you obsess — I mean, focus exclusively — on cost because that’s the only thing we can measure with any objectivity?

EDITOR’S NOTE: No more so than we focus on any objectively-measurable facts. It probably just seems that way to folks like you who obsess — we mean, focus exclusively — on the un-measurable warm-and-fuzzies that allow them and their favorite public officials, institutions and services to avoid accountability.

These freeloaders hack me off too, especially since I sent my kids to private schools while paying taxes to both school districts (my choice, not complaining, just fact) so I paid but didn’t take. But D64 not providing line item costs for these fee charges may even be more infuriating than the freeloaders. What is wrong with that school board? (I know what is wrong with the administrators: they are overpaid bureaucrats with superiority complexes)

Could you please tell me how long we must live in the district after our kids graduate? I don’t you want to think I’m a freeloader.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Just asking such a question is a pretty sure sign that you already ARE a freeloader, just like having all your kids’ middle names be “Elvis” is a pretty sure sign you’re a redneck.
School spending increases property values.
If there was no ability to “freeload” people would pay for private education and not move into boundaries of public schools – as a result there would be less demand for homes within certain suburbs – less demand for homes = lower property value.

EDITOR’S NOTE: First of all, the study you refer to is 11 years old and studied “the 1980-to-1990 changes in property values resulting from changes in state aid for schools that arise solely from changes in state financing formulas.” [Emphasis added.] And as that study recognized, more affluent communities tend to be “more efficient” with their spending: they get more value (i.e., better results for less money), which we have seen from a number of the districts whose students score better than D-64’s yet who spend less money per pupil, and that pay their teachers and administrators less than D-64.

You have endorsed three of the seven school board members, including the president Borelli. Why aren’t they pushing to get the fee information released?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We wish we knew because giving people information is the lowest hanging fruit. You also can’t lump Eggemann in with Borrelli and Paterno because Eggemann was just elected.

Anon. yesterday at 6:41 a.m. must be one of those people who also believes every $1 in government spending adds $1.50 to GDP.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Or one of those people who claimed every tax dollar the City Council gave away to one of those private non-profit corporations provided $3-4-5 of services.

And you don’t believe these things are true because….?

EDITOR’S NOTE: What “things” are you talking about?

If the fees paid by the parents only cover 55% of the cost, I would speculate the taxpayers pay the remainder. If the fees are a legitimate portion that the parents can be billed for, why not have them pay it in it’s entirety? Why have the taxpayers foot an expense they are not required to?

EDITOR’S NOTE: What’s there to “speculate” about – do you think Bill Gates is picking up the tab?

Maybe Board President Tony Borrelli or Board veteran Scott Zimmerman could explain the reason(s) behind this D-64 policy.

Why have any public expense for the public good? Everybody paying his own way or going without works fine in South America, doesn’t it? And gun sales are very brisk to protect the haves. So that’s another plus.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Why submit such stupid comments?

I think this is all hilarious. I’ve got six kids from four mothers and I’ve found ways (wink, wink) to get at least 4 of them into D64 schools, and I don’t pay jack for property taxes because I rent. Sure I pay real estate indirectly, and my 2 bedroom apartment is a bit cramped at the moment with four kids under 11 living with me in those apartments on busse road, but at least my children get to attend some decent schools. Heaven forbid they go to school in district 63 (*gasp*!) or even Des Plaines. I like these rich people schools here in park ridge. I do whatever I can to embetter my children’s future. The world is a better place for the chairity of park ridge and I thank you for it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An unsuccessful attempt at droll.

Isn’t that the logical end game for your thought process? I suppose you support military costs (love those billion-dollar no-bid contracts for the “makers”)and police/fire costs while working hard to get them back to the good old days of making next to nothing. But otherwise, what government function have you any regard for whatsoever? I’ve yet to see it. You and Grover start with the assumption that all government spending is wasted, and then seek assiduously for evidence to support that assumption. Of course it exists, and needs to be routed out, but that’s not where you leave it. You go right off the cliff to rhapsodizing about how intrinsically useless the entity is. Think about it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nothing you write is even factually accurate, much less “logical.”

Questioning and/or opposing knee-jerk, unjustified raises for already well-paid employees doesn’t equate with having no regard for every government function or “rhapsodizing about how intrinsiccally useless the entity is” – except to those who believe government, and more government, is the answer to every question; and government employment should be immune to market forces.

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