What does it mean to be a “good steward of taxpayer dollars”?

Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
~Warren Buffett

Over the course of the past three years, the district has worked hard to tell our financial story.  The Pleasantdale Board of Education has made sound financial decisions and has led the way to provide the district with a great story to tell.  We are excited about our financial progress and include our financial story in our district newsletters, on our social media sites, in press releases, at each Board of Education meeting, and on this blog.  However, it would appear that we could do a better job defining and explaining the great job we are doing. While discussing school issues with a community member, I was challenged about what it means to be a “good steward of taxpayer dollars.”  The conversation went something like this…

Me: We have such a great financial story.  We are really making good decisions to ensure the financial stability of the district.
Community Member: Yeah, I hear you talk a lot about being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. What does that mean? I mean, what does it actually look like?
Me: 🤦🏻(facepalm emoji)

This response makes sense when you consider that when we distributed our community survey this spring, 21% of respondents answered “I don’t know” to the statement “The district has good financial management.”  Between the question from a community member and the results of our survey, it became clear that not everyone shares my understanding/excitement about and for our financial position.  

After my encounter with a community member, I began making a list in my head of what it means to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars.  Some of our greatest financial accomplishments include:

  • Having the lowest tax rate of any of the LTHS feeder schools and refunding over $7 million to taxpayers in the form of a tax abatement.
  • Passing a balanced budgets for over 10 years and not having to go back to the taxpayers for a referendum in the educational fund for over 20 years.
  • Recognition by the State of Illinois for sound financial management
  • Receiving a bond rating upgrade.  (An improved bond rating means the district can borrow money at a lower rate, passing this savings on to the taxpayer.)
  • Implementing new initiatives in a financially sustainable way by collecting user fees, accessing grant money, and repurposing existing funds.

In the coming months, we will work hard to continue to share our message of sound financial management and tell our story.  We will look for new ways to share this information and create videos, presentations, and print material that will help our community better understand the work that is being done to ensure we remain on solid financial footing.  With that said, if you have questions about how the district finances work or would like to learn more, don’t hesitate to reach out for more information.

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