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As Barrington Community Unit School District 220 administrators get used to their roomier headquarters since moving there in May, district officials and the Board of Education could soon learn how much of the $2.6 million investment will be recouped.

Superintendent Brian Harris said the board decided two years ago that it made more economic sense to sell the then-existing 12,413 square foot building at 310 James Street in downtown Barrington and find a new facility.

Harris said the board then approved in late 2017 the purchase $1.1 million of a 20,237 square foot structure located directly across from Barrington High School, and closed on the transaction in February 2018. The district then spent more than a year on a $1.5 million renovation.

The school district is required by law to sell school real estate through a bidding process, and the board is expected to learn how much of its $2.6 million payout on the new digs will be recovered when bids are opened Oct. 29 at the district office. The minimum bid on the old building will start at $900,000.

Read more here.

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Paula Jacobsen

The latest Village newsletter came out recently, and it mentions the results of the latest Village annual audit among other things. The sound financial position of our Village is noted, but what is absent of any narrative is how earlier this year, first term trustee Paula Jacobsen caused a potentially damaging accusation that caused the auditor to investigate that accusation.

One question Jacobson was asked to answer during the audit was:

“In your opinion, are there any areas of operation of the Village that do not receive enough oversight of management or board, or any particular weaknesses in internal controls?” 

Jacobsen checked off “Yes.” As a Trustee, she could have taken the opportunity beforehand to gather specific information and to offer a detailed explanation or perhaps even actual facts, but instead submitted her vague audit questionnaire on March 17, 2019 (perhaps hoping to disrupt the April 2 election?).

Jacobson had a wealth of resources at her disposal for weeks before if she had any questions whatsoever on completing her forms from the audit firm. She could have easily gathered information from the Village Treasurer, Director of Administration, Clerk or even the Trustee assigned to Finance, but she did not avail herself of those ample opportunities according to recordings. She could have provided an answer to the question she was asked instead of repeating an anonymous rumor told to her by some residents.

Instead, when asked why she answered “Yes” to the audit question, her initial answer was:

“While I don’t know that it is considered fraud, but some residents have claimed that contracts are being given to certain members of family of the Board, however, that is not evidence of guilt. I don’t know that we have a clear process to evaluate this if in fact this is happening.   I’m not aware of any contract awarded to a Board member.” 

The first thought that came to our minds upon hearing this was that of an immature four-year-old who answers the question “why did you eat those cookies?” with, “Someone said I could.”

Though asked repeatedly, Jacobson would not, or more probably could not offer any specificity to her unsubstantiated allegation, and at times her answers to Trustees questions on her inexplicable answer changed from one minute or meeting month to another.

For example, before the auditor was asked to read back her answer to the question in the presence of the Board, Jacobsen denied checking the “Yes” box repeatedly. She also denied making any claim or charge of process or fraud issues, and she only began to recant her statements once the village president asked the auditor to read them into the record.

Jacobson also stated on more than one occasion that she understood that her responses to all audit questions were private and would be kept anonymous.   Those wishing to listen to the recording of this exchange can do so by clicking here.

She followed up at the June Board of Trustees meeting by reading a written statement that actually reversed her position in May. She stated she believes that fraud and processes have been violated at the Village, and further she made a secondary allegation that the auditing firm was not independent thereby impugning the reputation of the village treasurer, the independent auditor and the finance chairman Mr. Croll and the Village board.

If this sounds pathetic, it is, and it goes on (and on). Rather than continue with what is basically transcribing her lunacy from recordings, we have a better solution for all involved.

The solution to this problem will be for the village to spend further taxpayer dollars to “investigate” the rumor that someone repeated to Jacobson, and then hopefully follow that by providing educational information to Jacobson on the importance and serious nature of the annual financial audit so that in the future she may confidently answer the audit questionnaire with facts instead of vague, unfounded rumor.

-The Observer

Related: Flip, Flop: What changed your minds Trustees Messer, Meroni, and Selman?  (August 30, 2011)

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Barrington School District 220 officials plan to have two major safety upgrades completed by the start of the upcoming school year, according to a recent newsletter from the district.

Construction has begun on installation of a secure vestibule at an entrance of Barrington High School. It is being built at Entrance 45 of the school, which is to the lower left side of the main entrance, the newsletter states.

School officials say in the newsletter that students and visitors will only be allowed to use that entrance once the school day starts.

Over the past couple of years, the district has been implementing the secure vestibules at each of its 12 schools. The high school is the last to receive it, said Assistant Superintendent Craig Winkelman.

“It will give us a secure entryway into the school campus so that people will have to check in there and screen before entering into the high school,” Winkelman said.

Read more here.

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In May of last year, the Board of Trustees directed the Plan Commission to review the Village Comprehensive Plan and make recommendations for any changes they saw fit for the Board to adopt. The last time the Comprehensive Plan was updated was 2005 and amendments were approved in 2008.

After nearly a year of work and meetings, the Plan Commission has agreed to the changes they would like seen in the Plan. A copy of their proposed 2019 Village Comprehensive Plan can be viewed and downloaded here.

A public hearing is scheduled for July 8th at 6:30 PM to allow residents to voice their comments, or feedback can be provided to the Village Clerk at clerk@vbhil.gov.

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Barrington Township Trustee Fritz Gohl

There’s new hope in Springfield for putting power into the hands of voters when it comes to controlling and trimming their governments.

At nearly 6,963 units, Illinois has more governmental bodies and bureaucracies than any other state in the nation. Texas and Pennsylvania are next, according to the website Governing and they have only 5,147 and 4,897, respectively.

And while there’s been some momentum in recent years around merging governments, streamlining and setting up processes for dissolving bodies like sanitary and mosquito abatement districts in Illinois, the processes largely have been complicated or left in the control of public officials — some of whom, obviously, have a self-interest in keeping governments operating and themselves employed.

Read more from the Chicago Sun-Times here.

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Local officials expressed general support for the redevelopment of the former AT&T campus in Hoffman Estates Monday at a public hearing on a proposed tax incentive, but Barrington Unit District 220 officials restated their desire for more details to be sure the number of students living there wouldn’t outweigh additional tax revenue.

District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris stated his appreciation for this but said other questions remain.

“Based on published concepts and comments, we can estimate by using the methodology used by the village of Hoffman Estates that the development will generate approximately 100 new students,” Harris said. “These new students will overwhelm the capacity of our nearest elementary school in the area. These new students will increase our annual operating expenses by almost $2 million to cover the cost of their education.”

Read more here.

 

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Officials at Barrington School District 220 recently approved an increase in the district’s property tax levy that is projected to primarily cover general expenses.

During a meeting in late December, board members approved a total request of $125.1 million in property tax revenue for those expenses. Officials also are seeking an additional $13.4 million to cover debt service and building leases.

The projected increase to the district’s levy covering general expenses is estimated to cost the owner of a $500,000 home about $163 more in district property taxes next year, said Dave Bein, assistant superintendent of business services.

Read more here.

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