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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,  administrators and board members have reached out to a number of elected officials for support and guidance.

During a , District 113A Board President Mike Aurelio said he reached out Illinois Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) following t 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 , all of whom offered their support.

Reaves attended the meeting Tuesday night 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.

Mary Van September 09, 2011 at 04:28 PM
I have relatives that sent their kids to Francis Howell school....it's basically the same situation you have here, pretty much divided opinions, much certainly not a majority. Also, the reporter (I believe an editorialist) is not a well respected reporter in that area, and is known as a "trouble maker". These are just opinions, I have only read the one editorial. And so it goes........I really don't believe anyone had addressed the financial health of the district prior to Dr. Ricker's tenure here. If I can recall, there were many referendums that failed, so the need for money (again , it's who you talk to) has been there for a long time, and it looks like it began after Old Quarry was built. Ann, thank you for appreciateing my comments........I also appreciate yours. It is was makes this country so good, freedom of speech, and freedom from fear as you express your opinions. I think it is very important not to let things go, it is very important to stay on top of this, I didn't like that deficit spending was done for 14 years, that can never happen again....but we do have a huge revenue problem, so let's all, for the greater good of Lemont, find a solution we can all agree on.
Lee Ristow September 09, 2011 at 04:32 PM
Wow, just wow....but your original statement didn't refer just to the board. It seemed to me you were saying that parents should stay out of the whole issue. But you really ARE saying that parents with kids in the district should not be on the school board and I still have to say WOW to that, because I can't think of anything else right now.
Ann Paul September 09, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Hi Mary, thanks for your perspective. Francis Howell School district had to be audited by the state of Missouri due to questionable finances. Your comment on the division of the community is even more striking. Why is every school district this man leads reflects questionable leadership that divides the community? Same thing happened in Mehlville. I just can't believe this is all coincidental? Why does he leave communities in such disarray? Three districts in a row? Either way, since we can't figure it out, it may be unfortunate, but the just may do it for us. Sad.
Susan Antonoff September 09, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Wow is right. Catherine, If being a parent of child in the district is a conflict of interest, then you must considered yourself and your opinions a conflict of interest by having children in a Lemont parochial system. Isn't a portion of the tax dollars of all Lemont residents going to pay for parochial busing and certain special need students amongst other items paid for? Correct me if I'm wrong on your thinking here, but then would all Lemont residents, even those without children in the district, hold a conflict of interest because the district uses their tax dollars? If your "SHAM Theory" is based on "doctor's shouldn't operate on their own children," should parents, not trained in education, be part of the education process for their children at all, not even at home? After all, you've mentioned several times that you are a college professor, not an elementary school teacher...Do you not help to educate your child without holding that specific degree? Or is it "ameteurs-night" for you? Board members get the training they need, they have access to information and are able to ask questions before decisions are made.
Susan Antonoff September 09, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Catherine, again correct me if I'm wrong. But, earlier in this thread weren't you critiquing bloggers for speculating? If you have information about current board members "that when one lines their own pockets by giving their vote towards things that would benefit their children and their friend's children" then you need to present that. Or, is that speculation on your part that this is going to happen? "Also people on the boards don't have academic qualifications to make the decisions that they are." So, you feel the current BoE Members aren't qualified to make decisions? What qualifications are needed?
Catherine Stukel September 09, 2011 at 11:02 PM
Susan, You are an educator and that's the best you got? Really? Parochial schools are doing the public schools a favor? And you throw out the bus card and the special needs card? First the 750 students don't attend the public schools and yet we all pay full taxes. We take burden off of your educational system and we pay you on top of it. Then you talk about us using those very services we pay for? And you assume this is some sort of conflict?
Catherine Stukel September 09, 2011 at 11:11 PM
P.s. board member training? That makes me laugh. I'm speechless. Guess the board over the last 20 years did well. Lol
Susan Antonoff September 09, 2011 at 11:50 PM
The best I got? You've only redirected and avoided my questions... I am pointing out what you see to be conflict in others and not yourself. "First the 750 students don't attend the public schools and yet we all pay full taxes." So do all the parishioners who have children go to parochial schools? Or, do some contribute to the church, which in turn subsidizes/sponsors the school, who send their children to public schools? Sounds the same difference to me. I even bet many parishioners don't have children and their money they give to the church also somehow makes it's way to help the schools. Who takes the burden? Who do you suppose takes in all the children that aren't chosen to attend parochial? You don't think I see a conflict of interest in your opinions?
Susan Antonoff September 09, 2011 at 11:54 PM
Yes I do know what a conflict of interest is. I don't assume anything, your posts say everything. So prudence in your own life is your qualification for a BoE member? That's all you got?
Susan Antonoff September 09, 2011 at 11:55 PM
I guess community college training makes you an expert on this topic?
Susan Antonoff September 09, 2011 at 11:59 PM
You criticize other for having an interest, SO DO YOU! You use services, that's a conflict of interest. The same as others. It's inevitable!
pat hooper September 10, 2011 at 12:53 AM
Catherine, With all respect due an official Lemont Patch blogger, is it really necessary to resort to flippant, personal attack comments to make your point? I think there are several flaws in your opinion that having children in the district and being a member of the BOE is a conflict of interest. Of course there could be a conflict if a board member holds interest in any business or contract with which the district is involved. Simply having children in the district may meet your standard for a conflict of interest, but certainly does not meet any legal standard. Your concern that board members may "line their own pockets by giving their vote towards things that would benefit their children and their friend's children" suggests that even having friends with children in the district poses a potential conflict. How about grandparents, aunts, uncles, or relatives of district employees? Could that also lead to potential "pocket lining" and /or conflict? I think if we all held your standard of CoI when voting for board members, we would have a lot of empty seats come election time. Who would be left to serve on the board? Those with no friends or relatives in town? I do not always agree with board members opinions or decisions, but I try to always remember that it is a very time consuming, onerous, and thankless "job." (...to be continued)
pat hooper September 10, 2011 at 12:54 AM
Yes, they are "ordinary" members of our community, some with advanced academic degrees and some without. In a perfect world the board would be balanced with members who have a variety of education, interests and skills. This is not a perfect world. What I am sure of is that regardless of what I personally think of the decisions being made or the job current or past board members have done ( at least for the last 36 years that I have lived in this town) they are all extremely dedicated to public education. As to your comment that the school is not run as a business, Education is Not a business, but that discussion will have to take place on another thread. Maybe you can blog about that to get the discussion moving.
Susan Antonoff September 10, 2011 at 01:09 AM
Last word, right...I compared a choice to spend one's money contributing to a church, the same as you choose to spend on sending your child to private school that is partially subsidized by others. Those that contribute to the fund, don't have a direct say to where it is spent. People are elected in the public sector, BoE. But I suppose in a church setting, members are appointed to make the decisions. Making the point, as you did with your tax dollars going to subsidize public education, other parishioners don't' have choice either. You need to take a long hard look in the mirror and reread your posts. Who attacked whom? "Susan, You are an educator and that's the best you got? Really? " Another, " I hope you know that I went to public school and I can critically think. Can you? You seem more interested in being right and less interested in opening your mind." Open mind, I guess only if we follow you? Not a chance....
Susan Antonoff September 10, 2011 at 01:31 AM
Wait, you've got to be kidding me here...."Heck susan, I was on the school board for my daughter" Catherine, did you line your pockets? "Yes Lee. When we run a board that specifically benefits our own family; it is run less like a business and more like "ameteurs-night". So, yes Lee. I do believe that when one lines their own pockets by giving their vote towards things that would benefit their children and their friend's children" Did you "SHAM?"
Susan Antonoff September 10, 2011 at 01:55 AM
Who pays your community college salary?
Catherine Stukel September 10, 2011 at 12:38 PM
I am more that disappointed by this dialog. Let me explain why. 1. I came here to say that ISBE wants us to pull together. They want us strong. We need to come together. And I used a humorous example to convey that. And then? All bets off. People became vitriolic toward Ricker. I don't even know him. None of us were part of closed session. He can't defend himself. And so people became mean. 2. Then I say that parents have a conflict of interest. This doesn't mean that every parent on the board is bad but EVERY parent on the board does have a sense of inpropriety. I truly wonder if those parents would be on the board if their children weren't at the school. Inpropriety - or the appearance thereof, should never occur. 3. Then I was told I had a conflict of interest. Because Catholic Schools use the bus and special needs services. Well Catholic School families pay full taxes to live here. We can use those services and the public schools are not doing us a favor. I, however, do not use either of those services. 4. And my favorite logic? That the "church" gives to Catholic schools. Somehow comparing manditory taxes with that of a church stipend? 5. And when all else fails -- did someone really ask me who pays my salary? I mean, really? 6. And then someone says, quite flippantly, that schools shouldn't be run as businesses? I mean really? Isn't that what got us and other institutions in the country in trouble? How very sad.
Catherine Stukel September 10, 2011 at 12:53 PM
Really?
Susan Antonoff September 10, 2011 at 01:12 PM
Still redirecting? How very sad. You continue to miss my point... You need to look in the mirror and keep an open mind. Point 1: You need to have a friend reread your first comment that began this thread and explain to you how what you wrote came off as pointing fingers. You assume a tactic based on what? You made an assumption that the people of the community and authorities weren't working together. Point 2: Why were you on your child's BoE? Point 3: Citizens pay full taxes to live here, but those who choose to send our children to higher education institutions other than community college, are doing a favor by keeping those classes down even though many don't use those services. Point 4: So, you address the burden of other's paying for private education beyond the families, verses the community paying for public education whether it is a "gift" or not? Point 5: Yes, I did ask who pays your salary...You felt compelled to remind me that tax dollars pay mine. Don't tax payers contribute to yours? Point 6: Schools aren't businesses!
Catherine Stukel September 10, 2011 at 01:42 PM
God bless you Susan. You have a hard job.
Catherine Stukel September 10, 2011 at 01:48 PM
You left tuition out of "point 3"....just sayin...
Mary Van September 10, 2011 at 01:59 PM
Okay everyone......we know this town is divided, and very, very sensitive when it comes to this issue......so, I'm going to give the bloggers of this thread a challenge: Let's redirect our energies this weekend to remembering those lost in 9/11 ten years ago, we came together as a nation then, we can come together and calm down a bit now, even if it is until Monday! May God bless them, and most importantly their families that go on without them. May God bless our troops, firefighters, and police for they have the hardest job of all.......fighting for freedom, and keeping us safe. The best picture that I have seen in recent years was of that Iraqi woman coming out of the polling place with black ink on her finger, showing that she just voted for the first time in a fair and open election. NOW.........that is something! God bless all of you as we remember and stay ever vigilant of freedom's foes.
Susan Antonoff September 10, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Public elementary students pay tuition..and your point?
Susan Antonoff September 10, 2011 at 02:36 PM
I'm still wondering how you can accuse BoE members with children in the district of lining their pockets and having a conflict of interest when you outed yourself for being one of those with a conflict of interest. Thank you for your blessing. This blog isn't my job.
Catherine Stukel September 10, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Susan: I will answer your BOE question. But first I must explain the basic. The School Advisory Council that I served on was not a board in the traditional sense of the meaning. We were involved in fundraising and were asked to be involved in the set up of booknight, and the organizational function of the school. If you go back and read my post, I did cite a board of specified juristiction. I fully support the concept of a board of specified juristiction. The concept is that less that 25% of the members of that board are school families. Everyone else is a community member, church member or civic leader. They have NO conflict of interest. I am not on that board. So, in essence the board I served on was more a "service job" and one that was not an elected official. Now - my concern is your attack on this. I did write that I did fully support the Board of Specified Juristiction - but you never once asked what that was. You were just willing to jump on me. I seriously - wish you well Susan. You have such an awesome passion for your school and community. I do feel it is misguided because you are too heavily focused on other stuff. I wish you the best on your journey - and pray for your inner peace. God bless.
pat hooper September 10, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Posting that Education is not a Business .....is a viewpoint, not a flippant comment. There is a healthy debate on that very subject going on all over this country... including at Institutions of Higher Learning.
Susan Antonoff September 10, 2011 at 04:30 PM
I'm sorry that you feel I was misguided and mislead in my journey to understand your posts. But, you did say you were "on the school board for your daughter." I wasn't clear that your position was more like a PTO position. That's why I asked in many of my post for you to correct my thoughts on your posts, which you evaded.
Susan Antonoff September 11, 2011 at 12:12 PM
Catherine>>Here's your Part two: Didn't want you to lose it: Catherine Stukel commented on the article UPDATED: Mayor Pledges Support to District 113A in Fight Against State Intervention "Part two. Now you also assume that I am saying everyone lines their pocket? Do you seriously know what a conflict of interest is? Also, and most importantly, we don't use the bus, or luckily don't have a special needs child. You also assume I don't support the pta or the involvement of parents in education. And finally people on school boards should have academic qualifications, they should be fiscally prudent in their own lives and they shouldn't be in the role for anything other than to help work with what they have. I seriously question your logic susan. I hope you know that I went to public school and I can critically think. Can you? You seem more interested in being right and less interested in opening your mind."
Susan Antonoff September 11, 2011 at 12:14 PM
Catherine>>Here's you other deleted post: Catherine Stukel commented on the article UPDATED: Mayor Pledges Support to District 113A in Fight Against State Intervention "Oh no you didn't. You didn't just compare charitable gift giving to your church which has specific envelopes for catholic schools to that of paying taxes. Ooooo, I know. Why don't we take the 75 to 90 3rd graders and remove them from them from the catholic schools and give them to your school. And the best part? There is no more tax dollars. Susan, what concerns me most is that when your logic appears week you go after my credentials. Oh, btw, I have them. My kid doesn't ride the bus. We don't use any service and wow...I think paying taxes to help society is good. Heck susan, I was on the school board for my daughter and when the archdioses decided to make the board of specified juristiction I fully supported it. So susan, I'm not hard to find. I have public linkedin pages and plenty of credentials and no conflict of interest. You howere comment on my teaching a CC as though that is bad? How very sad and entitled. Either way susan, please have the last word."
Melissa F. September 13, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Anne and Nancy, Both of you seem very educated in the events currently taking place with Lemont School District, so I am hoping you can be of some assistance. My husband and I are currently looking to move to Lemont (and some other near by suburbs) and have major concerns as to what the future holds for the schools (right now, we have no school aged children, but within the next 5 years). Any advice you can offer would be very helpful, as i can't seem to find the right people to discuss this issue with. Thanks!

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