The following letter was sent Tuesday to Patch, as well as District 113A administrators and school board members. More than 50 community members and parents signed the email, which calls for hiring of experienced teachers when the district fills its 10 vacant positions for the 2012-13 school year:
We are writing to you as a group of concerned citizens who request that the District 113A Board enact hiring practices that will lead to the employment of the best qualified teachers that our tax money can buy, given the financial constraints and limitations placed on our district.
Some of us have emailed or called to inquire about the hiring practices for the 10 open positions, and expressed concern about the apparent directive given by the Board to eliminate from consideration any teachers with experience. Some of us have heard reports of this directive but have seen nothing publicly stated on this important issue. We are unsatisfied with the communication we have received from the Superintendent and Board members, which hint that the hiring practices were discussed in closed session, are not open to public discussion, and suggest that we sit back and trust that the Board will do what is best. Quite frankly, we find that message insulting and worrisome, as closed session discussions and a lack of transparency from the Board have led to many of our current problems.
It is our opinion that the Board made a decision to hire only inexperienced teachers. Although the 113A financial plan says new staff must be hired at entry-level pay (BA1), we believe experienced teachers would accept entry level pay and would be better qualified for the positions than some inexperienced candidates. In this economy, workers in all industries are accepting less pay than they made before because they want to be employed in a field they enjoy. To pass them up and hire only inexperienced staff at the same price at which you could get more qualified, experienced workers, is a bad deal.
To many citizens, this hiring approach is a bad decision, which will adversely impact students. While we are not opposed to hiring some inexperienced teachers, we are against the exclusive hiring of inexperienced teachers without attempting to secure more qualified, experienced teachers at the same price. Additionally, a directive by the Board and Superintendent to arbitrarily exclude a certain class of prospective employees from consideration for these teaching positions who are otherwise qualified and willing to work at the posted pay levels may be discriminatory and put the District at risk of a lawsuit. We are highly concerned that this directive will be reported by a prospective employee who was excluded from consideration or by a dissatisfied parent to the Attorney General and other officials who investigate and prosecute workplace discrimination.
We understand that you volunteer your time to serve on the board and at times it is a thankless job, especially with the challenges the district faces. We appreciate the success you have had in improving the financial situation in the district. However, we disagree with the apparent decision that you have made regarding the hiring practices for open positions, and we are concerned about the negative impact on our district.
We want action and solutions that help ensure we have the best teachers at a pay level we can afford, and we want an opportunity to discuss this in an open forum. We understand and appreciate the efforts and financial improvements the board has made. But, the reality is that the citizens of the district want a part in helping the district to grow, and a voice in how teachers are selected.
Residents of Lemont and Families of District 113A
(Mary and Scott Pollard, Cindy and Steve Schuit, Scott and Julie Johnson, Nick and Kristin Aleman, Jared and Mary Haughey, Brian and Lisa Ferguson, Jeff and Lisa Dian, Mary Ellen and Scott Ferguson, Carrie and Mike Gardner, Kristie and Raul Jirik, Michelle Tauer, Tom and Alesa Geraghty, Daniel and Michelle Brannigan, Karen and Bob Reitz, Dominic and Mara Tunzi, Dorothy and Ken Retzke, Melinda Pintozzi, Sharon Cantarino, Mia Santango, Gail May, Joan Pintozzi, Suzanne and Pat Gardner, Dawn Tartaglia, Ann Conway, Tom and Janet Schatz, Eric and Kathy Swanstrom, Laura and Doug Biggs, Patie and Rob Prochaska, Karen Wasyliw, Ray and Lorena Silvar, Chris and Jim Hendry, Joe and Kim Mardgetko)
Editor's Note: Parts of the original letter were omitted for redundancy. Residents also requested a public discussion on the hiring process, as well as a public statement from each board member stating their position on the issue.