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District 54 overcharged for busing

New leadership at Illinois Central School Bus makes good on over $200,000

Morris Elementary School District 54 is being reimbursed about $226,000 it was overcharged by the previous leadership of Illinois Central School Bus.

The school board Monday approved a billing issue resolution from Illinois Central School Bus for a 100 percent credit reimbursement for its November, December and January invoices, said Superintendent Teri Shaw on Thursday.

When the district was entering its fifth year of a five-year contract with Illinois Central School Bus it went to bid for bus service, explained Shaw. In doing so, it was evaluating its bus routes to see if there was a way to increase efficiency or to see if there was a way to share bus service with Saratoga School District 60c, as well as with Morris Community High School District 101 as it currently does.

In this process, an internal audit discovered there was a discrepancy in the number of routes that were running and the number the district was being billed for, Shaw said. For four years, the district was being charged by Illinois Central School Bus for routes it was not running.

"The company has gone under new ownership within the last year and the interim CEO acted with the utmost integrity and was completely honest and credited us 100 percent of our billing charges," Shaw said.

According to a press release submitted to the Morris Daily Herald by Illinois Central School Bus /North America Central School Bus and printed in September, the previous CEO of the company was Bruce Barr of Morris.

At the time of Barr's retirement, Kevin Mest took over as interim COO and was the executive who handled the reimbursement to District 54.

According to the September release, effective Jan. 1, 2013, Steve Hemmerlein will join the company as the new CEO.

"I can't speak highly enough of (Mest). He analyzed it and said from day one he'd make it right and he did. He's actions followed his words," said Shaw.

In other business, the board also approved its 2012 levy.

The levy reflects the school district's declining Equalized Assessed Value on properties in its district, which have been losing value for the last three years.

School districts file tax levies to make sure they capture all available property tax dollars once the actual EAV is determined. School district budgets are based on local property taxes.

Last year's tax rate was $3.21.This year, the district's levy request is for $7.3 million, which would result in a tax rate of $3.09.

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