UPDATED: Mayor Pledges Support to District 113A in Fight Against State Intervention
While Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves says he plans to attend the ISBE meeting later this month, Sen. Christine Radogno is working with state officials to determine the best course of action.
Updated, Sept. 9
In a phone interview Wednesday, a spokesperson for Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said the senator is working closely with state education officials to address the possibility of a financial oversight panel in Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A.
"Sen. Radogno has been talking to officials from the Illinois State Board of Education almost every day to make sure they have the most accurate, up-to-date information possible about the situation in Lemont," said spokeswoman Patty Schuh.
According to Schuh, Radogno is not against implementing a financial oversight panel in District 113A, but wants to make sure the state has all the information before making a decision.
"She trusts that the education professionals will determine what's best for the district, but we were under the impression that things were trending in the right direction," Schuh said.
Radogno will continue working with state officials up until the meeting Sept. 27-28. Schuh said several questions and answers have already been exchanged between her office and the state board.
"We're in contact with them daily, and that will continue," she said.
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Originally posted Sept. 7
Facing the possibility of a state-appointed financial oversight panel at the end of the month, Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A administrators and board members have reached out to a number of elected officials for support and guidance.
During a special meeting Tuesday night, District 113A Board President Mike Aurelio said he reached out Illinois Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) following last week's announcement that state education officials are recommending the school district for financial oversight.
"(Radogno and Durkin) were very supportive," Aurelio said. "They do not believe the FOP would be in our best interest."
District 113A Superintendent Tim Ricker said he also reached out to Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves and officials from Lemont High School District 210, all of whom offered their support.
Reaves attended the meeting Tuesday night to offer his support to District 113A. He plans to attend the ISBE meeting Sept. 27-28 in Bloomington, IL, to tell state officials why an oversight panel would not be in the best interest of the district or the community as a whole.
He offered the following statement:
“I have been contacted — not me reaching out — by the State Board of Education, Dr. Ricker, President Aurelio, Sen. Radogno and Rep. Durkin in the last 24 hours. Ms. Vespa's office must be extremely busy.
“I will be attending and have been asked to speak on Sept. 27 and 28. Not on whatever your presentation is, but on behalf of the village of Lemont and how we are opposed to a (financial oversight panel). It is important that we have a unified front going downstate. It is our last chance. I can guarantee you that.
“There was a gentleman who spoke just a few minutes ago that made some comments that the state totally denied ... in terms of contracts that can be broken. Contracts can be broken only if there is a fiscal deduct in what is being spent. For example, busing. If an FOP comes in and says that they can find a better bus company to run the school as a cost savings, then they can break that contract. That is how they break contracts — that is it.
“The superintendent's contract — if you find somebody that wants to come in for $99,000 and there's a fiscal savings, that is the only way that contract can be broken.
“... It's important that we have the same message in this room, in my room, at the high school, the park district, the residents, all the way back and forth with what we're presenting. I believe that with a good plan and with the right conversations when we get down there, this should be able to be averted. I really believe that.
“I do believe that the state has had a little bit of misinformation, and I believe they have been bombarded with information. It is our duty as elected officials to have whatever we are going to present be reviewed by the board president, the superintendent and staff. From there, have the (board) make comments, send it back and get it done within 48 hours.
“... It is imperative, Mr. President, that you work with Dr. Ricker to get this plan done. You two have to be on the same page. From there, sending it back to the (board) for final approval. If you have to, go two by two with all the board members. Meet together, work out a plan, that way you're not violating the Open Meetings Act. Hold a workshop, put it together. I'm not asking, I'm begging. It is vital to what we have. We have some amazing things the trustees and I are working on. This will put a black eye on it ...
“... I will be going down, based on (invitations from Radogno and Durkin). I am at your disposal.”
The ISBE meeting is scheduled for Sept. 27-28 in Bloomington, IL. Ricker said Vespa is still unsure about which date the school district will be asked to make its presentation.