Springfield, IL...State Representative Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) has filed legislation granting authority to several area schools districts to decide whether or not to continue to receive business and human resource assistance from the Lyons Township School Treasurer’s Office.
“This is an issue that Senator Radogno and I have been working on for several years, initially on behalf of Lyons Township High School. I passed similar legislation through the Illinois House on two separate occasions only to have it blocked by Democrats in the Senate. Over time additional school districts have told us that they can handle their own accounting and payroll and want to leave this antiquated and costly system of government as well. Expanding the list to include other school districts underscores the importance of this legislation. The Senate Democrats must remove their opposition and allow this bill to pass,” said Durkin.
House Bill 4047 allows the governing boards of Lyons Township High School District 204, Western Springs School District 101, LaGrange School District 102, LaGrange School District 105, LaGrange Highlands School District 106, Pleasantdale School District 107, and the LaGrange Area Department of Special Education to withdraw from the jurisdiction and authority of the Lyons Township Treasurer’s Office, provided that the board elects or appoints its own treasurer.
Township School Treasurer Offices once the norm statewide, were originally established to assist school districts with financial issues, most were eliminated back in the 60s – except in Cook County. Current law requires school districts within Class 11 (Cook) county school units to use the township treasurer. Class 11 schools do have the option of electing or appointing their own school treasurer, but must seek approval of at least 5 members of each school board in the District; they must pass a resolution to remove jurisdiction from each school board; the question must then go to the voters via referendum; and the majority of voters must agree to remove jurisdiction of township treasurer.
Durkin and Radogno first in introduced the legislation in 2014 after it was discovered that long time Treasurer of the Lyons Township Trustees of Schools, Robert Healy, stole millions of dollars from the member districts. He is currently serving a 20-year sentence for the Class X felony of theft over $1 million.
“Each of the individual school districts had funds stolen from them and many started handling the services of the Township School Treasurer’s Office on their own. To make matters worse, the fees imposed on the districts by the Township School Treasurer’s Office have increased significantly in recent years and the member school districts have absolutely no input into how their dollars are spent or how the fees are determined,” said Radogno. “The districts are capable of handling these services on their own and those who aren’t already doing so are confident they will be ready to assume control of these duties should the law be changed and they are allowed to withdraw.”
“The bill we have filed is about local control. Parents and school officials know what is best for them and the decision whether or not to withdraw from the Township Treasurer’s Office should be theirs alone,” said Durkin. “Previous General Assemblies have allowed other school districts to withdraw from other Township School Treasurer’s Offices - our schools should not be treated differently.”