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300 Threats

Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 school board President David Scarpino is shown speaking in a screenshot of Tuesday’s board meeting. (Courtesy of Shaw Media)

Since the start of the school year, Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 Board members and employees have faced threats and insults from a small number of parents, board President David Scarpino said.

These “unacceptable” behaviors have included parents shouting profanities at staff and extending middle fingers to them “in plain view of students,” along with sending “disrespectful and threatening emails, voicemail messages and phone calls,” Scarpino said at this week’s board meeting.

To illustrate the seriousness of the issue, Scarpino read excerpts of messages sent to employees and board members aloud. Some complained about the district’s COVID-19 plan, masks and vaccines, and others threatened legal action against the district and teachers.

“I view you as scum,” one message said. “Scum that will soon be wiped from existing.”

“We are now at a crossroads. Are we going to have a major conflict on our hands? I have an entire army ready to bring the guillotine down,” one person wrote. “You’re about to receive a very eye-opening lesson.”

One message told the recipient that “a little accountability is exactly what you deserve, and I’m getting ready to serve it to you,” while another called someone a “corrupt little puppet.”

“I hope you’re sweating. I hope you’re losing sleep,” Scarpino read from one message. “And if not, you should be.”

Read more here.

Related: “Meanwhile, in the tony City of Lake Forest news…

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Health officials say a Lake County (Spring Grove) resident in his 80s died after being exposed to a rabid bat last month. It is the first human case of rabies in Illinois since the 1950s.

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the diagnosis after testing at its lab.

A man in his 80s, who resided in Lake County, awoke to a bat on his neck in mid-August, according to the Lake County Health Department.

The bat was captured and tested positive for rabies, health officials said.

Wildlife experts also found a bat colony in the man’s home.

The man was advised he needed to start postexposure rabies treatment, but he declined.

One month later, the man started to experience symptoms consistent with rabies, including neck pain, headache, difficulty controlling his arms, finger numbness and difficulty speaking, health officials said.

Read more here.

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Illinois taxpayers are on the hook for nearly double the debt burden of just 12 years ago. That’s according to a new report on the fiscal state of the state.

Truth In Accounting (TIA) has been evaluating state governments for how much debt the state has versus how much they bring in. Their Financial State of the States 2021 published Tuesday.

For all 50 states, the total amount of state government debt taxpayers must pay back is $1.5 trillion at the end of fiscal year 2020.

For Illinois, TIA Research Director Bill Bergman said the amount owed per taxpayer went from about $30,000 in 2009 to $57,000 in the most recent report.

“In other words, it’s almost doubled since 2009,” Bergman said. “That’s significant for a few reasons, including the beginning of that period was in the middle of the worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression and Illinois has only deteriorated since then despite the massive recovery in financial markets since 2009. That’s scary.”

Only two other states were in worse financial condition than Illinois. New Jersey’s taxpayer burden is at $58,300 and Connecticut’s burden is at $62,500 per taxpayer. Only 11 states had taxpayer surpluses. The rest are considered “Sinkhole States” by TIA.

Read more here.

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Arlington Park will host its last races of 2021 — and perhaps forever — on Saturday. Except for a postrace fireworks show and historical videos in-between races, there are no special ceremonies scheduled to mark the closing.

At 6:12 p.m. Saturday, a field of a dozen horses will enter the starting gates for quite possibly the final time at Illinois’ grand racing palace.

The name of the race for fillies and mares 3 years and older?

Luxembourg, in tribute to the equine who won the inaugural race at Arlington Park on Oct. 13, 1927.

Once the horses cross the finish line of the 5½-furlong turf course race Saturday evening — the ninth on the card that day — there’s sure to be pictures in the winner’s circle with the winning horse, jockey, trainer and owner.

But track management isn’t planning any special ceremonies or commemorations on the final day — save for a 7:45 p.m. fireworks show and a few historical videos on TV screens in between races — despite discussions earlier this year with village officials to do something bigger.

“Really, it’s just to go out with grace,” said Arlington Park President Tony Petrillo, during a brief interview Thursday afternoon after an Illinois Racing Board meeting. “Our focus is on the experience that we have to deliver to people.”

“The chapter to this book is still to be written,” Petrillo added.

Read more here.

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Outdoor concerts at Buffalo Creek Brewing will include the Lake County Symphony Orchestra on Sept. 17.

Buffalo Creek Brewing and the Lake County Symphony Orchestra are proud to announce ongoing concerts in historic downtown Long Grove.

On the heels of the success of the July 3 “American Salute,” where the spacious Buffalo Creek Brewing beer garden was packed full, the Lake County Symphony Orchestra will open its regular season at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, with “Broadway & Hollywood Blockbusters.”

Featuring the music of “West Side Story,” “South Pacific,” “Wicked,” “Porgy and Bess,” “The Sound of Music,” and John Williams’ premiere orchestral suite from “Star Wars,” music will fill the evening sky for the whole family. Musical theater singers Chris and Donna Engelhardt, will be featured in the Broadway medleys.

Guests can enjoy food from Smokin’ T’s, freshly hard-crafted Buffalo Creek Brewing beer, and Lake County’s only professional orchestra.

Tickets are $20; free for children 12 and younger. Purchase tickets at www.lakecountysymphonyorchestra.com.

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DL App

Services such as behind-the-wheel driving tests and standard driver’s licenses now require appointments at certain Illinois Secretary of State facilities.

Questions such as “do you have an appointment?”, and the occasional letdown, “all our appointments are full,” circulated Friday outside the driver services facility in Lombard.

That’s because the Illinois Secretary of State’s office this month is retooling a variety of procedures to avoid crowds and lines at DMVs caused by COVID-19 backlogs.

What that means is, as of Monday, many Illinoisans will need to make appointments for services such as behind-the-wheel road tests, REAL IDs, standard driver’s licenses, and ID cards at certain locations. The change was rolled out earlier at some sites.

Appointments for those services are required at the following locations: Aurora, Bridgeview, Des Plaines, Joliet, Lake Zurich, Lombard, Melrose Park, Midlothian, Naperville, Plano, Schaumburg, Waukegan and Woodstock, plus three Chicago offices.

Scheduling can be done online at ilsos.gov or by phone at (844) 817-4649.

Walk-ins are still allowed for people seeking vehicle titles, or for renewing license plate stickers — but please don’t, officials say, since stickers are easily obtainable online. Customers can also order duplicate licenses and driving records on the ilsos.gov website.

At the same time, Secretary of State Jesse White is introducing a new program estimated to allow thousands of safe drivers to renew their licenses or ID cards remotely.

Read more here.

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Dr. Tom Leonard

Former District 220 superintendent Tom Leonard is now, “…superintendent of the highly acclaimed Eanes Independent School District in Austin, Texas.”

Illinois spends more on pensions than any other state and a new report highlights the cost of so-called “double-dippers” who collect a full pension and get another job.

The nonprofit Wirepoints cites a former Illinois school superintendent who retired with a $230,000 pension before taking another position in Texas.

With an automatic 3% yearly raise, Tom Leonard will receive about $6.4 million in pension benefits from Illinois taxpayers based on actuarial assumptions when his annual Illinois pension jumps to $370,000 a year. According to the report, Leonard contributed a total of $322,000 to the Illinois Teacher’s Retirement System over the course of his career.

“They are not doing anything wrong; it is what the lawmakers allow them to do,” Wirepoints President Ted Dabrowski said. “I critique the lawmakers for allowing people to be able to retire that early and get a full pension and get jobs.”

The official shortfall at Illinois’ five state-run pension funds, which includes state workers, judges, teachers and university employees, increased to $144 billion in 2020, up $7 billion from the year before, according to a report by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

Moody’s Investors Service had a different take on the amount, putting Illinois’ net pension liabilities at closer to $317 billion.

Read more here.

Related:Barrington District 220 superintendent Leonard leaving in June

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Several suburban communities are among 74 small towns throughout Illinois slated to receive a portion of more than $40 million in federal COVID-19 relief grants.

The grants were announced Friday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office. These towns will receive another $40 million next year.

More than $742 million is available to small towns throughout Illinois, Pritzker said. Only about half the eligible towns have applied so far.

Some of the grant recipients are:

  • Village of Barrington Hills: $284,803.12
  • South Barrington: $339,588.64

The grant applications are available through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Eligible uses for the money include COVID-19 response, replacing lost revenue, economic stabilization for residents and businesses, and addressing inequality in the impact of the pandemic.

The full list of recipients is available on the DCEO website, illinois.gov/dceo.

Read more here.

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CUSD 220

Barrington School District 220 was awarded $6 million in federal funds to assist the district with its response to and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, district officials have reported.

The money is from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) as part of the Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security Act. SD220 held a public hearing earlier this summer to hear from district stakeholders, including parents, on how the money would be used for the 12 schools and more than 8,500 students in the district.

There was little board member comment and no remarks on the subject from the large audience that had gathered at the board meeting. The crowd attended to share concerns about students wearing masks during the new school year.

District 220 is planning to return to full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year, officials previously announced. The new academic year starts Friday.

Bein said the district’s ESSER Fund spending plan includes $1.2 million for social, emotional learning support, as well as $1.3 million for student learning Additionally, $200,000 was spent on summer school this year and there are plans to provide staff materials in SEL support.

Read more here.

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VBH Water

According to the article, “In Barrington Hills, the median residential property tax bill for Cook County homeowners is nearly $537 lower than last year, but almost 77% of the homeowners there are paying more in property taxes than they did last year.”

Nearly 80% of all commercial property owners in Cook County received higher property tax bills this year, while 50% of homeowners saw their taxes increase.

A representative of building owners said the gap isn’t fair. But a spokesman said the Cook County assessor’s office is correcting for widespread underassessment of commercial property in the past.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Farzin Parang, executive director of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago. “This shows to us how the assessor is putting his thumb on the scale and not on market data.”

According to a new report being released today by the property tax research unit of Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas’ office, property owners in Cook are paying $534 million more in property taxes this year combined over last year, a 3.4% increase.

The report also shows that 50.5% of residential properties in the county received higher tax bills, while 78.5% of the county’s commercial property owners were charged more this year.

Of the additional property tax revenue generated, $410 million is coming from commercial owners, while $114 million is due to increases on residential property owners. The remaining $10 million is coming from other types of properties.

Read more here.

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