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Plainfield Schools to Go After Income Tax Refunds of Delinquent Families

District 202 partners with the comptroller to seek more than $1 million in unpaid school fees.

Plainfield School District 202 is hoping to collect more than $1 million in unpaid school fees through a partnership with the Illinois Comptroller’s office.

The school board on Monday approved an intergovernmental agreement with the state comptroller’s debt recovery program that will allow the district to receive payment of families’ school fees from their income tax refunds.

As the district faces yearly budget deficits, this partnership would give the district a tool to collect money from families who have consistently refused to pay their fees, said Angie Smith, assistant superintendent for business and operations.

Under the Illinois State Local Debt Recovery Program, governmental bodies, including school districts, can collect outstanding debt through the comptroller, who oversees state tax refunds.

From 2006 to 2010, 750 students have not paid their school fees, Smith said. Among those, 392 students owe more than $500, she said.

Many of the fees get rolled over year after year, and some families accumulate thousands of dollars in debt to the district.

Prior to this agreement, which will begin in January 2013, one of the district’s only resources to collect unpaid fees was to withhold certain privileges such as attending prom or participating in 8th-grade or high school graduation ceremonies, Smith said.

But some of the families who still owe the district money have moved, leaving their bills behind.

In January, the district will begin the legal proceedings to claim the money. First, families will be notified and given 14 days to contact the district, contest the claim or work out a payment schedule with the district, Smith said.

The district plans to review each claim on a case-by-case basis, adding that officials understand many families have been hit hard by the current recession, Smith said.

The district does offer ways to help families who have been unable to pay their fees, including offering payment plans, fees on a sliding scale based on income or waiving fees altogether.

“We recognize that the recession has hit our families hard,” she said. “We’ve done a lot to create ways to help.

Smith said, though, that many of the families have simply refused to pay and have not contacted the district regarding using type of payment plan. They have ignored their financial responsibilities to the district, she said.

“… Some families simply refuse to pay no matter what help we offer,” she said. “Those families are essentially getting school services for free. That’s not fair to the district, and it’s not fair to all the other families who do their best to pay their fair share.”

What do you think of the Local Debt Recovery Program? Do you think it's a good way for the district to recoup unpaid fees?

silentrippy October 23, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Sounds like the school board. They just want to give handouts to corporations. Why are you not concerned with the board handing out tax breaks to big corporations? Lets see: Springs Apartment complex at 127th, Diageo expansion, and Aryzta. Lets just keep giving huge tax breaks to wealthy corporations while the little guy who can't pay their monthly bills gets screwed. Who's looking for the handouts concerned? Corporate welfare is way bigger and doesn't even compare to social welfare in this country. Get your facts straight before you post.
Tim October 23, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Your child didn't get a 'free-ride', but they certainly get a discounted one from all of us couples without kids in the district, that pay taxes. We have no problem paying for something we don't directly use, because we know that we indirectly use it in the form of living within an educated population. Living around an educated population is important, and I would imagine you think so too.
JJS October 23, 2012 at 03:05 PM
From what I understand They, The "Teachers" also refused to pay 10 % for Health Ins. I have to pay 950 a month for my family health coverage.. Can I get a Job ????
concernedresident October 23, 2012 at 03:18 PM
@JJS and you only have to work 9 months to get that health insurance.
M2P October 23, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Everyone needs to stop playing the blame game. Stop bringing politics, teachers, taxpayers, corporations into the reason you do not pay your bills. It’s simply about people not paying their bills. Whether its school fees, mortgage, electric bill…be responsible for your own actions. People live outside their means all the time and then expect others to pay for it or blame someone else for their lack of money. If you can’t afford it then set up what you can afford and pay that amount no matter how small it may be. You are at least trying and making an effort. Everyone is hurting, myself included, but should we all just stop paying our bills? Those that ignore the problem, need to take a long hard look in the mirror and see the problem.
concernedresident October 23, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Amen! Guess maybe that should be right on or spot on! You know you look back at this whole real estate crisis and a majority, and I say majority because some people actually fell on some bad times, but a majority of people that got burned on their homes had zero down-payment loans. So instead of saving money to put down on a home they borrowed the down-payment to. Or they refinanced to pay for the two new cars in the garage because what the hell it didn't cost them anything just a couple more bucks a month on a mortgage for the house they couldn't afford. Life is not free, you have to work and pay for what you get! But this article is about the the school district and they are acting like the world has not changed in the past 10 years. You can't afford those raises, those benefits so guess what you have to pay for it, because it's not free any more!
latexher@comcast.net October 23, 2012 at 03:50 PM
It is shameful that this district with all the revenue it gets each year from the property taxes we all pay and other sources cannot balance their budget! Overspending on Taj Mahals, and the upper echelons of management has proved that this school board need to be replaced! The school districts in Southern Illinois would walk through fire to have the kind of financial resources which we taxpayers have allowed this district control. The people here (taxpayers) would be wise to control this district's future spending better, by pressuring our school board to STOP their wasteful spending! The teachers here are highly paid in comparison with the rest of the state, especially those South of Springfield! America has changed, but requires much more fiscal responsibility in order to avert disaster. Teachers, their unions and all branches of government must learn to adjust to our new economy, some of which will require deep cuts!
Concerned (NL) October 23, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Pay for your own kids they are yours for goodness sake. Stop blaming everyone else for your troubles. This includes the school districts building these massive schools that needs to be heated, cooled, and maintained. If you are short paying maybe you can work off the debt painting, cleaning the swimming pool etc....
Matt October 23, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Finally, going after the deadbeats. I paid and so should they!!!!!!
Olddeegee October 23, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Pursuing the repeat offenders is a great idea. There are mitigating circumstances in many cases, but there are those that simply ignore to pay. Go get 'em.
Dawn October 23, 2012 at 06:51 PM
According to Article X(10) of the State of Illinois Constitution, all secondary education shall be free. I pay my taxes and fees on time, but I don't understand how 202 can go after people for unpaid fees when, according to state law, it's free. Shouldn't the thousands we pay in property taxes cover everything? Greed, greed and more greed!
concernedresident October 23, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Greed maybe, but it's a lesson in life, you use it you buy it! Nothing worse than a deadbeat.
Mike October 23, 2012 at 11:52 PM
You're way off Ron. The Plainfield teachers contributed nearly 95% of that money. By law it is removed from their checks by the school district and then paid into the retirement system. TRS Contributions Member TRS retirement contribution 9.40% Employer TRS retirement contribution 0.58%
Tim October 24, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Mike, The D202 Board of Education pays 100% of the employee share owed to the TRS. The teachers pay $0.00 out of their paychecks. This 'perk' was negotiated with, and agreed to, by the board. It's right there in the contract, you should read it; http://www.psd202.org/Departments/BO/APT_Contract.pdf
Chris October 24, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Ron, please, enlighten me. What school do you teach at? You seem to have a lot of knowledge about teaching in Plainfield, you must be a teacher in the district. I am a Plainfield Teacher. Every 2 weeks for the past 4 years that I've taught in the district, I've had a LARGE amount of money taken out of my paycheck. Please do your homework before you start claiming things that are completely false.
Chris October 24, 2012 at 01:25 AM
concernedresident - I know, we're all so lazy. We only work from 9-4 everyday. Don't worry, everything in my classroom was given to me too. I would love to see anyone of you take a day to do my job. I may only have children in my classroom during those hours, but I'm at school 2 hours before it starts, and I'm working the majority of the night, and a ridiculous amount of hours on the weekend. Not to mention those 2 months I "have off." I know you all think we sit around and do nothing, but most of us are preparing for the next school year thinking of how we can better our classrooms. Shall we discuss the $5,000+ I spend on my students and classroom each year that is NOT tax deductible? Before you get on your high horse and start bashing teachers, take a second to actually get to know all the hard work that we do every single day. You need to better educate yourself on how hard we work.
Jerry October 24, 2012 at 10:01 AM
Chris, I have heard this a lot and I'm curious....what exactly do you spend $5,000 per year on for your classroom? I'm not being argumentative, I truly am just curious.
Zaney October 24, 2012 at 11:01 AM
Tim...I don't think you understood my comment and maybe because you don't have children in the district. When I said "free ride", I was refering to the school fees that have to be paid as I also pay very high taxes to live in Plainfield!
Zaney October 24, 2012 at 11:16 AM
I applaud the district for taking these measures however, what changes will be put in place to prevent this from happening going forward?
M2P October 24, 2012 at 12:28 PM
I’m tired of seeing people question teachers. I use to think teaching was the easiest job...no weekends, home by 4, gets all the holidays & summers off. After working at the school district & seeing what teachers do all day....I sometimes wonder HOW they do it. They really are under appreciated and under paid. They get there early, stay late, go to meetings constantly, try to keep up with the ever changing curriculum, conferences, state testing, meetings during lunch, sometimes no lunch, any free time is used up waiting to make copies, emailing or calling parents back on daily basis, dealing with troublemakers, helping kids who always come to school hungry because they have no food, no winter coat or have holes in their shoes, reading notes from home, giving kids one on one time for those that need it, some take classes at night, they take homework home every night/weekend and still try to maintain a home life. Also...most tutor or have second job during summer to make ends meet. I've seen teachers purchase things for classrooms, items for various projects, books for kids, buy winter coats for the ones that have none, help families at holidays, stock the classroom with educational games & things for the kids to do, they give parties to kids as an incentive for doing all their work...all out of pocket. Teachers do it for the kids and not the lavish lifestyle that’s given above. If it pays so well and is easy..then maybe it’s time for a career change for some of you.
latexher@comcast.net October 24, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Granted - most of our teachers are diligent in their work and teaching abilities, and are well compensated for these in District 202! Most teachers earn well over $55,000. per year in our district, with many earning well into the 60s and 70s depending upon their years of experience and education. Here is a list, for those interested - in which the teacher salaries for district 202 are broken down by teacher name, and affiliation for 2011: This chart does not list other perks as part of their contracts! http://www.familytaxpayers.org/ftf/ftf_district.php?did=13585&year=2011 Personally I was more interested in the Administration pay and the pay associated with some of the department heads, special education, and principals... Many ranging well over $100.000.00 per year - most enlightening! What is really interesting that many teachers salaries are linked to district size. Districts with higher enrollments seem to pay more. CLASSROOM size is more important then District size we thought. Well anyway - the above link will enlighten some and should finally put teachers pay at rest.
ap01 October 24, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Any student who qualifies for free/reduced lunches also qualifies for free/reduced fees. Please don't think that the district is trying to get money out of people who truly can't afford it. It's also good to know everyone's viewpoint of teacher's in your district. I hope every teacher reads these comments and understands the lack of support they have from the community. Well, at least the people who read the Plainfield Patch.
Lisa S. October 24, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I actually contacted ISBE about this. They can charge a 'reasonable fee' for materials. ISBE cannot say what 'reasonable' is. The district is claiming our fee is mostly for books. However, they have a schedule already set up for increases on books they haven't planned or purchased. It's a junk fee to pad the coffers. And most of my son's books this year he did not even have given to him...they use the online version!
Lisa S. October 24, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Teacher salaries for District 202 (and any other) can be found at familytaxpayers.org. as well as other sites. The numbers don't include benefits. Crying poor is one of the reasons they don;t get a lot of support.
Zaney October 24, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Not true ap01......I read the patch and very much support (and always have) the teachers in District 202!!
Sharon's Comment October 25, 2012 at 03:55 PM
You are assuming the delinquent people PAY TAXES! Most probably do not. If they do pay taxes they probably can't afford it ~ therefore you are going after the wrong people! It's a vicious cycle
Tim October 25, 2012 at 04:16 PM
You can support teachers, and at the same time not support their union. The union pushed through the 'benefit' of the school board(you) picking up 100% of the pension contributions. (loss of public support) The union lobbied in springfield to defer pension payments into local yearly district funding instead, and are now crying foul that the state didn't pay in the money into the pension plan, that they asked them not to. (HUGE loss of public support) The union issued the order to protest any pension changes(and sadly, most teachers posting here seem to be unaware of their own pension setup, so aren't even aware what they are protesting). The teachers are not the problem, their union is. So if the teachers do not want to feel that they are being overlooked, they need to get their own house in order in the form of internal reform within their own union.
ap01 October 28, 2012 at 02:45 AM
I'm sorry. Where did this article or any other article say 202 teachers are calling poor?
ap01 October 28, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Thanks Zaney. Tim, I'm not about to argue the pension argument with you. I've seen enough people try to explain it to you since you are not willing to admit you are wrong or at least see a different side, I'm not going to waste my time.
Lisa S. October 30, 2012 at 06:34 PM
refer to any contract negotiation or simply talk to some of the teachers. I have.

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