District 80 board moves forward with new phone system purchase


Board members spar over best phone system proposal, ultimately choosing California-based Ring Central

Board members spent 45 minutes debating the proposals after board member Warner DeJulio objected to the accuracy of the financial cost numbers as presented to the board, urging the vote be tabled until all alternatives had been evaluated.

DeJulio argued the “cloud” based phone system would not function in the event of an internet outage, and recommended looking into an on premise system as an alternative.

However the cost for a new on-premise system was well above the $50,000 budgeted for a new phone system, and the board moved forward with the cloud based solution by Ring Central.

These were all good points made by DeJulio, but was DeJulio’s interest in selling the District a more expensive product borne of genuine concern for the best solution?

DeJulio certainly knows his stuff – he’s a “Senior Solutions Architect” at his company, 312 Communications.

DeJulio’s company also provides communication services for the public sector. You know, public sector entities like school districts… we’re sure there could be no conflict of interest there… right?

DeJulio has reached out to us, denying any conflict of interest in a statement, saying he argued for the more expensive system because it is the “best option for safety, security and functionality” and that his company “had no interest in that contract”.

DeJulio has said the more expensive, on-premise quote given to the District was from one of his competitors, and he had “had zero interest financially or any other way in this deal”.

He continued to object to the Ring Central solution the District purchased as flawed, saying “running the phone system over an existing Internet connection isn’t reliable enough for mission critical applications like E911 for example”.

Other highlights

The new special education director provided a status report presentation of the new special ed services department. The District recently took itself out of the LASEC cooperative, and brought special education in-house.

There was a presentation of what is claimed to be a financial breakdown of where the majority of the $10 million reserve was spent.

We aren’t going to take at face value any figures presented by District 80 while the current board leadership and administration is in place.

Even if we were to accept their claims, at the end of the day, it’s an attempt to “justify” their overspending. Cover for years of burning reserves for operational expenses.

An unbalanced budget plus excuses is still an unbalanced budget. Numbers don’t lie or care why the money was spent.

It was several years before District 80’s “leadership” started to take the deficit seriously.

The District 80 board, and its financial consultant Craig Schilling, are slapping themselves on the back for getting closer to a balanced budget. Except… a balanced budget is to be expected of a public body.

Schilling mentioned that District 80 isn’t so bad compared to other schools he has deal with.

OK Craig, we’ll take your word for it… but it’s irrelevant. This is Norridge and Harwood Heights. We should never accept anything less than fiscal responsibility from our schools… or from any other government body.

Given all those years of overspending, and outside of any historical context, it could be considered an “achievement” to be so near to balancing the budget.

But we can not and will not ignore the past: 10 years and counting of deficit spending.

Show us a real balanced budget… show us 3 years of financial actuals in the black (including deposits to the reserve fund)… then maybe you will have something to praise.

Recording of the November 20 2018 D-80 Board Meeting (until closed session, except for the security vulnerability presentation – 1 hour 30 minutes)

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