District 113A Board President: 'We're Moving Forward in a Positive, Productive Way'

The following letter was sent to Patch this week by Lisa Wright, president of the Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A Board of Education.

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The following letter was written by Lisa Wright, president of the Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A Board of Education.

Dear District 113A Community Members,

Last week I was encouraged to see so many voters come out to show such significant interest in one of our community’s greatest assets, our schools. I admit I am disappointed in the referendum result, but I fully respect the decision of the community. As a board, we are committed to moving forward in a positive and productive way.

We will seek creative solutions to educate students while living within our financial limits and resource constraints. We will build on progress already made toward improving financial stability and accountability. We have already eliminated deficit spending, established and maintained a balanced budget, and adopted new processes to increase accountability and transparency. Additional processes, policies, and practices will be implemented as we strive for continual improvement.

I look forward to working collaboratively with the newly elected board to make decisions about the future of the district and to plan effective ways to engage key stakeholders. We have already begun to build personal relationships prior to new members being sworn in. In doing so, we have affirmed that we share the common goals of restoring financial stability, providing a quality education to all district students, and re-building trust and confidence in the Board as a whole.  

The road ahead is not easy given the challenges that we face, but we are committed to ensuring that District 113A students will continue to receive a quality education from our dedicated and highly qualified staff. Board members are committed to the welfare of the district and to meeting the needs of all stakeholders — students, parents, staff and the broader community. We will continue to strive for improvements and demonstrate that we are good stewards of the significant financial resources that the community places in our hands.

Thank you for your interest and your support. Please join us at upcoming board meetings to listen to what is happening and to hear about opportunities to get involved in helping to shape the future of our district. For the board meeting schedule and other information relating to board business, visit us at www.sd113a.org.

Lisa E. Wright

President, Board of Education for District 113A

bob ognar April 15, 2011 at 01:11 PM
THANK YOU Janet Hughes - you were 1 of only 2 on the past board who had the courage to stand up and speak the truth. I have heard talk that some old sitting board members are not happy that Al Malley is a new member. Good Luck Al, you have courage and can be trusted. Bob Ognar
Therese Galligan April 15, 2011 at 02:40 PM
Last week Mrs. Wright said: "We have a really tough task ahead of us," she said. "I am monumentally saddened by the decision made by the community — a community that has chosen not to support its schools. Shame on them." Today she says: "but I fully respect the decision of the community". Which is it Mrs. Wright - are you monumentally saddened or do you fully respect the decision of the community? Once again - I am monumentally confused! This is a PERFECT example of the double-talk the Community has been receiving from the Super, the Board President and others! She doesn't RESPECT the decision of the community - she said SHAME ON THIS COMMUNITY!!! There is great possibility that 50% of the Community voted no because of ALL of the rhetoric that constantly changed! GET YOUR FEELINGS IN ORDER and GET THE FINANCIAL BOOKS IN ORDER!
Brian Markham April 15, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Freely admitting that I have no idea how Board positions are selected, is there any way to make the newly elected individuals the Pres, VP and Secretary and have the current sitting officers demoted to regular Board members? That's change I can believe in.
Chris Rinchich April 15, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Wow, Ms. Galligan, you have made a strong statement -- CAPITAL letters and all! Surely, if you have children attending 113a, you would also feel sad for all that those students who will NOT have art or music education in overcrowded classrooms nor know what it is to attend field trips. Surely, the new board will "make do" with what's been given them. Financial records are being posted for everyone to see and BOE meetings will continue to be open to the public. Your scolding has been heard.
Lynn Antonopoulos April 15, 2011 at 06:05 PM
I believe a person can respect the decision of the community and still be sad about it. In fact, that is exactly the way I feel. I completely understand how the referendum was voted down, but I am unhappy about the conditions my children will experience in school. This does not mean that I do not know or recognize that there were financial problems in the district before the referendum was presented. It also is not a statement about who or what is to blame. I believe that argument is tired now, and we need to find positive solutions and move forward. When I read Ms. Wright's letter, I saw it as someone acknowledging that the path has been and will be difficult, but she is bringing the spirit of cooperation to the job. She appears to be saying that she wants to work as a team and move forward to address the very real concerns still facing our district. Why does it always have to be a controversy? I don't know Lisa Wright personally, but I believe she sent the letter in a good spirit, and I'm sorry to see that anyone in the community would try to spin it any other way. Regardless of your opinions about the winners or the losers, we must stop the bickering and the nonsense and focus our efforts on improving the educational experience for our children using the funds available. Perhaps Bob and Therese can volunteer to work on a committee and make a more positive contribution to the community. That would be time better spent.
Lynn Antonopoulos April 15, 2011 at 06:17 PM
If you believe in Janet Hughes and support her, your message would be better received if it wasn't peppered with bitterness toward people you likely neither know nor understand. Why bog down your positive comments for Janet and Al with innuendo about others?
Patti T April 16, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Dianne - you said "The funds available are much less thanks to the above people." The funds available are much less because we are the LOWEST FUNDED large elementary school in Will, Cook, and DuPage Counties. That is a fact. You said "It was assumed the community would rise to the occasion and fix the problem". It IS the community's responsibility to fix the problem of being the lowest funded school. "Had the Unions and teachers agreed to a pay freeze, instead of laying a contractual burden on everyone, things would be different.".....How would things be 'different'? We would still be in a financial crisis. It would still be up to the community to give our pupils more funding so that they are not the lowest of the low-funded schools. It is not the teachers job to fund the school. How can you blame the teachers for the community not passing a referendum for the elementary school in over 40 years? Frankly, I am not sure how appealing it is for any teacher to work in this district anymore...their class sizes are immense, they have little job security, and a large portion of the community are making the teachers out to be greedy scapegoats who have caused this whole financial mess. I find that to be ridiculous.
Mary Pollard April 16, 2011 at 09:57 PM
Patti, your comments are right on. I am tired of people trying to blame the teachers for any part of this financial crisis. Prior to the $4.1M in cuts, their average salary was $10K less than the state average. After losing ALL non-tenured teachers (=low end of pay scale), and some tenured, they still remain below state average. They are below state average because we have such low funding levels relative to other comparable schools, and yet they perform at above-average levels in student achievement. 113A teachers have accepted a significant increase in work via increased class sizes. They continue to give their best everyday despite a lack of resources. I don't know what they may or may not be willing to agree to in the current contract negotations, but I am sure they nor the Board expect increase amounts to be what they were in the past. For anyone to call the union "uncaring" is untrue and unfair. 113A union teachers have shown they care about our kids. Many community members know that. I hope our great teachers do not get discouraged by negative comments that are made here. While it may be politics to many posters, it's personal for the 113A staff members who give 110% every day, and attacking their character or motivation on a blog is simply unfair. As for the Board, it sounds like they are trying to get off on the right foot - I am hopeful they will make positive progress.
Patti T April 17, 2011 at 03:12 AM
Lynn - I was referring to the REVENUE coming into the district (before a dime is even spent). There are 68 large elementary schools in Dupage, Cook, and Will counties. Of these schools, District 113a has a lowest School Tax Rate at 1.7.
Dianne Bronzell April 17, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Patti, Before I comment on your statements, could you give an explanation on why we are funded disproportionately to other districts, namely the lowest funded? And FYI there is a difference in the word entitled and "greedy scapegoats". Across the state and all other states, Unions do not help students and they themselves are all about power, not caring about the students. They once did but corruption has overturned their so called good intents. I think it has something to do with mandatory membership, which makes them so powerful that they can tie the hands of every state school district. Over the years this has put a severe burden on municipalities and that is just a simple fact. The unions only care as far as it goes. First and foremost is their power. But first, I want to know why we are the lowest funded. Details please, even if you have to divide your comments into more than one reply. Thank you
Patti T April 17, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Dianne - Why are we the lowest funded school district in 3 counties? The simple answer is because we have not passed a referendum in over 40 years to increase funding to district 113a. If you go to the isbe.net website and go to interactive report cards you can compare districts. There are 68 districts in Cook, DuPage, and Will counties that are classified as 'large elementary schools' (like district 113a). If you compare all 68 of those districts, we are tied for last place with Downers Grove district 58 for the LOWEST total school tax rate per $100. (this info is found under the 'district finance' tab, then under 'expenditure rates'). District 113a's rate is only 1.7. The definition provided on the site for 'Total School Tax Rate per $100' is the following: "Total school tax rate per $100 , an indication of district effort, is the district’s total tax rate for education (per $100) as shown on local property tax bills." Despite what your feelings are about unions, it does not change the fact that our district needs more funding. All of the other public schools in our category have union teachers as well, but they get more funding than district 113a.
Lynn Antonopoulos April 17, 2011 at 05:14 PM
Someone please correct me if I am wrong. Years ago, schools had the ability to levy tax increases against a community at will. There was a limit to what they could take in a year, but there was no limit to the number of consecutive years they could increase their revenue by mandating a tax increase. Now with the tax cap laws, schools no longer have the power to do that. If I understand District 113A's history correctly, the boards and administrations of our past decided to be very modest in the tax increases they levied, while many surrounding public school districts increased their taxes to the maximum allowable on a regular basis. They were, therefore, able to generate revenue much more quickly than District 113A, and they built reserves to protect them during times when the state was slow to pay. So, they may or may not have been deficit spending like 113A, but they had enough of a cash reserve to cover the gap when the state of IL was late in paying tax revenue to their districts. If all of this is true (again, asking for confirmation), then it might be the answer to "Why are we the lowest funded district?"
Lynn Antonopoulos April 17, 2011 at 05:16 PM
To clarify, our taxing rate is lower because we didn't grab for a larger percentage like the other districts before tax cap laws were created.
Louis Emery April 18, 2011 at 03:38 PM
Nowhere in these pages over the last few months did I read praise for taxpayers. Instead of the pledge of allegiance at the start of board meetings, there should be a thank you for the tax payers for providing what the district has, like people do at a thanksgiving dinners. There should also be a recitation of how much taxes went up over the years way past the rate of inflation.
Brian Thornber April 18, 2011 at 05:37 PM
That's a good point. In fact, maybe we should make it our motto. We could put it on signs over the door of every classroom. "Lemont. Where you are lucky we've decided to pay your salary". We could put the signs up in firehouses and police cruisers as well. Just think of the influx of AWESOME public workers that would bring in! We'd have to fight them off with a stick.


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