The Bellwood School District 88 board quietly diverted more than $105,000 from an education fund to replenish a retirement account Superintendent Rosemary Hendricks drained years ago. || James Svehla / Chicago Tribune | Caption: Tribune
Monday, June 27, 2016 || Originally Published: Chicago Tribune || By Angela Caputo
Money may be tight in Bellwood School District 88, but the school board still managed to quietly divert more than $105,000 from an education fund to replenish a retirement account its superintendent drained years ago.
The money added 20 years of service to the Illinois Teachers Retirement System account for Superintendent Rosemary Hendricks. That change, under a TRS formula, would increase annual pension benefits to $77,000 from an estimated $14,000. Taxpayers across the state will pick up the tab, potentially for years to come.
The move is another example of an Illinois school board diverting funds to help administrators land more lucrative retirement packages. The Tribune has written extensively about salary spikes, penalty payments and sweetheart deals that compound the state’s pension obligations.
District 88’s attorney said Hendricks, 66, is required to repay the $105,504 to the district, but the district has not provided a copy of that agreement or any details about a repayment plan or said whether she must pay interest.
“What I can inform you with some certainty is that the item you reference was voted on by the BOE (school board) approving the payment of said amount and requiring Ms. Hendricks to pay the money back,” attorney Michael Castaldo wrote in an email.
The district did not disclose the spending during open records requests seeking details of Hendricks’ compensation, but the Tribune found the $105,000 expense listed in a September document among scores of other district payments for routine bills including milk for school lunch, legal work and general maintenance.
The terms of the spending have been so elusive that records show even the district’s finance director and the Proviso Township school treasurer’s office, which oversees District 88’s finances, have been kept in the dark about whether Hendricks and the school board hashed out an official agreement over the spending.
To read the full article, click here. VFP