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Candidate Forum Wrap-Up: Online Video Available Until April 5

Be sure to check Patch later today for the full story and a link to the event video.

If you missed Wednesday night's candidate forum for the Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A Board of Education, we have some great news.

Patch and the Lemont Junior Woman's Club were fortunate enough to be contacted last week by Lemont resident Jim Fiore, owner of DV Imaging. DV Imaging is a professional webcasting company who puts together webcasts for companies across the United States.  He utilized the volunteer videographers from Channel 6 to stream the event.

Thanks to Fiore's offer to help us, we were able to provide a live feed from the event so voters could watch the forum from the comfort of their own home. So far, we've received great feedback both on Patch and our Facebook page.

Here's the great news: the video from the forum will be available online from now through April 5. Anyone who wishes to view the event in its entirety may do so by clicking here (the video will be available "on demand" by Thursday afternoon).

The forum will also air on Channel 6 (U-Verse Channel 99) on March 21, 22 and 30 at noon, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

On a final note, I want to take one last opportunity to thank Jim Fiore and Bill Pelen, who both worked very hard to organize the filming of this event. Another thank you to Lemont Township Supervisor Steve Rosendahl, who opened up the Community Center to us.

Patch would also like to thank the Lemont Junior Woman's Club for inviting us to be part of such a great event. In particular we would like to thank Kelley Van Hecke, Kristy Lambrakis, Lynn Antonopoulos and all the other women who donated time and energy to making this event such a success.

On a personal note, I want to add that I was blown away by the turnout, as well as the number of people who watched online. The event was informative and positive in nature, which is what we hoped it would be. We hope voters took (or will take) some useful information away from the event, or that you were at least provoked to ask more questions.

We would love to hear your feedback on the event, so please let us know what you thought in the comments below. I can also be reached via e-mail at amanda@patch.com or phone at 630-886-7917.

Check back later this morning for the full story on the forum.

Thank you,

Amanda

martin finn March 10, 2011 at 12:58 PM
Overall, it was a useful experience for me. thank you. The positions, preparedness and competence of each candidate was fairly well displayed, I thought. I was surprised that the superintendents name did not even come up, I don't think, as I would have liked to hear about the candidates impression of him. Certain things I get now about 113A, but can't get an understanding of his role and abilities. It is now clearer to me than ever that the school board is the crucial piece in determining the success of a district. Given, now, that a reasonably wealthy community has children stacked on top of one another, no gifted student program and under a state financial plan is, shall we say, a pretty strong case that recent boards have failed this community. I think, there exists strong advocacy for school spending by groups of parents in Lemont, and either through mutual agreement with the BOE or just by being more forceful, they got their way. Is this wrong? In my opinion, no, to a point, and that point was crossed when the boom became a bust. A stronger, perhaps, more independent board MIGHT have been able to prevent this school meltdown, which has further created a community rift. In ant case, I know this now, it has been the taxpayers of Lemont's fault (no way) and we need a strong board.
martin finn March 10, 2011 at 01:00 PM
Very important edit last comment++++ It has NOT been the taxpayers fault of Lemont's fault
Mary Pollard March 10, 2011 at 01:15 PM
Finally something we agree on - we need a strong Board, and no, it is not the taxpayers of Lemont's fault that the district is in crisis. It is, however, our problem. Kids are stacked on top of each other. Past deficit spending borrowed from today's kids to pay for yesterday's. We taxpayers refused numerous referendums in the past, to the point where the district is the lowest funded large district in 3 counties. Until funding increases, class sizes will NOT be reduced and today's kids will continue to receive a disadvantaged education and we remain vulnerable to a state takeover. Not our fault, but our opportunity to help a new board to fix the situation...with a referendum. Six of the nine candidates agree.
Thomas Lee March 10, 2011 at 02:40 PM
I watched it at home. Very informative. Is it me or did Cindy Kelly have every answer conveniently prepared on her note cards as she read each answer right from them? I seriously hope she didn't have insight to the questions beforehand.
Brenda Douglass March 10, 2011 at 02:46 PM
So are you accusing the Patch of 'rigging' the debate?
Lynn Antonopoulos March 10, 2011 at 03:08 PM
Mr. Lee, As one of the organizers of the candidate forum, I can assure you that neither Ms. Kelly nor any of the other candidates were provided the questions in advance. Keep in mind that all questions were taken from the comment boards here on the Patch, so all candidates could have read the comments and prepared responses. Even the audience could reasonably anticipate the questions. After the event, Mr. Aurelio told me that he (paraphrasing) had his answers ready but just needed to know which questions were going to be asked. I took this to mean that he reviewed the comments and prepared. It is safe to say that the candidates are working hard to educate themselves, and can speak easily as all topics are familiar to them at this time.
Brenda Douglass March 10, 2011 at 03:09 PM
The point needs to be made clear: All candidates had insight into the questions. (1) Amanda was clear from the beginning the questions would be taken from posts to the Patch. (2) Anyone paying attention at all could guess what all the questions would be. Guess we've learned who pays attention...
Jodi Stood March 10, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Many of the questions were posted on the Patch by readers prior to the forum. Obviously candidates prepared answers for the questions posted. I want school board members who do their research, are organized and prepared. Good job Cynthia!!
Amanda Luevano (Editor) March 10, 2011 at 03:24 PM
I would just like to clarify that NONE of the candidates received the questions beforehand. If you notice, many of the candidates were jotting down notes if they didn't go first. So of course it looked as though they were reading. This is pretty standard debate practice. I'm sure they all had some idea as to what questions would be asked, since the questions were being posted on Patch. We made every effort to keep this event fair, and I believe we did that last night. If you feel otherwise, please feel free to contact me. But please refrain from suggesting things that simply aren't fact. Like with anything else, that's how rumors start. And this board is not a place for that. On a side note, I would like to apologize for the poor editing of this post. I hate to use the hour it was written as an excuse, but that certainly had something to do with it. Again, I regret the errors.
Ellen March 10, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Reading from notes is different than reading from prepared statements.
Jennifer Albrecht March 10, 2011 at 03:38 PM
"Ellen", as Amanda just posted, "please refrain from suggesting things that simply aren't fact."
Patti T March 10, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Perhaps some candidates prepared more than others. I do not see anything wrong with preparing your responses beforehand to certain obvious topics. I think that is much better than some of the non-answers some people gave to certain questions. At times some were rambling trying to craft a response that ultimately had very little to do with the question. Perhaps those folks should have had some notes or responses prepared.
martin finn March 10, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Revenue/enrollment ---to me that is the crucial ratio, for 113A it is 28,000,000 divided by 2500, roughly. I think. How can I find, or, can someone tell me, the value for say, Lockport, Woodridge, Orland Park.
Patti T March 10, 2011 at 04:51 PM
Martin, there is a chart with this info on the citizens for 113a website here: http://citizensfor113a.com/ But if you do not believe that go out to the ISBE.net website and you can COMPARE the districts you want. I just went there and compared the four you mentioned. My results came up for the fiscal year 2008-09. I did this quickly so hopefully I did not make any errors. I had to total the revenue myself and divide out the revenue per pupil. My results are below. SD113a has the LOWEST revenue per pupil. District Total Revenue # Students Revenue Per pupil Woodridge SD 68 41,496,750 3,018 $13,749.75 Orland SD 135 72,302,363 5,437 $13,298.21 Lockport SD 91 6,334,613 680 $9,315.61 Lemont SD 113a 23,742,238 2,602 $9,124.61
Patti T March 10, 2011 at 04:54 PM
Sorry the spacing did not work out well on my reply. But SD113a has a revenue per pupil of $9124.61, Lockport is $9315.61, Orland is $13,749.74, and Woodridge is $13,749.75. To me, this demonstrates that our district DOES need more funding. Every comparable school around us has more revenue per student.
Beth Howell March 10, 2011 at 06:08 PM
Mr. Finn.....a good website to check out regarding other community taxes is http://tax.fizber.com. It is a website to calculate property taxes, according to the value of your home. I think you will find it useful. It was 100% correct with my taxes. It has all communities in Illinois, so you will be able to compare Lemont with other surrounding communities.
Patti T March 10, 2011 at 06:37 PM
Beth, this is a great tool. In continuing with the example from above, when I take a $300,000 home and compare the taxes in the same four towns, once again, Lemont pays the LEAST in taxes. Woodridge...... $5790 Orland .............$5850 Lockport ..........$4560 Lemont ............$4110
martin finn March 10, 2011 at 06:39 PM
I think the lemont 113A value should be 28,000,000/2500 or about $11,200.00/pupil. I don't want to quibble about that, though. My larger point is, there is a certain turmoil in the village, neighborly illwill, a school district with kids piled on top of one another, possibly some new, capable, talented teachers gone to other climates, some useful programs shuttered. The need to issue debt and lose millions of all of our dollars to interest payments (i.e. the wall Street types that are so vilified.) This is a devastating legacy and I know no one on the board (or previous boards) wanted this, but, frankly, the report card is in. Now, what role did parent organizations play in coaxing the board to lose sight of their obligations or was the board already "along for the ride" I do not know. What about the superintendent's role in getting us here, I do not know. Getting out, a way forward best for kids, parents, taxpayers, some fresh faces on the board who are not mouthpieces for one side or the other would be a good place to start. I heard some last nite.
Brenda Andrist-Gawenda March 10, 2011 at 07:06 PM
Well said, Mary Pollard. While the issues with the district are certainly not the direct fault of the community, we need to do more AS a community to ensure that the children that live there have access to a quality education so that they are well prepared for the future. To that end, every citizen needs to understand that as homeowners and taxpayers, we are primarily responsible for funding our schools. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves for passing a referendum for the CORE when our schools are underfunded and our children are suffering for it! Mismangment of funds or not, the only tangible solution to better the lives of the children in our schools is by giving the district the money that they need. I'm not so oblivious to the fact that we need to put some fresh faces on the Board but I believe we are setting the NEW Board up for failure if we do not give them resources to work with.
Patti T March 10, 2011 at 07:15 PM
When you look at the facts that we have the lowest revenue per pupil, the lowest expense per pupil, lower than average teacher costs, and yet we have good test scores - I think that makes a strong argument that there was not a lot of wasteful spending. We were spending to have good programs in place for the students. It looks to me like the Board is guilty of not coming to the community earlier to ask for a tax increase to bring up our revenues. They used deficit spending to keep the programs in place. I do not think we should look to lower our programs and quality of education. Our school should be able to afford (for example) a gifted program and if it cannot then it needs more funding. We are considered an affluent community and yet we have lower tax rates than most surrounding communities. No one wants to pay more in taxes, but when you look at the data, Lemont pays a lot less and spends a lot less on educating our kids than most surrounding communities. Is that really what we want? Unfortunately (or fortunately) Lemont does not have a Mega Mall in town to generate revenues. B/c Lemont is considered affluent, there is less in state funding. Therefore, most of the tax burden falls to the residents. When the school needs more (we are the lowest funded school per pupil around) it is our burden to pay for it. At the very least, 3rd and 4th graders should have their own classrooms and gifted students should have a program in place for them.
Tom Schatz March 10, 2011 at 07:17 PM
Jennifer, Do you know something about "Mr. Lee" that the rest of us should know? Is the real identity Mrs. Lee or something entirely different?
Tom Schatz March 10, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Martin, I was looking for you at the event last night. I wanted to be able to put a face with the name and an opportunity to speak with you in person. Any chance you'll be attending any of the other community presentations about SD113A?
Jennifer Albrecht March 10, 2011 at 07:31 PM
While I have my own suspicion of the fictitious nature of Mr. Lee, I cannot state for fact he is not who he says he is. Earlier today, an "Ellen" was writing rather snarky posts, full of slander and innuendo regarding Mrs. Kelly and the Patch. "Ellen's" post have since been deleted either from her own sheer embarrassment or for not following Patch policy. I certainly didn't mean to confuse anyone.
Brenda Andrist-Gawenda March 10, 2011 at 07:49 PM
Patti, I was not suggesting that funds were mismanaged previously but I do know that is of public concern. My point is that even if people think that is the case, at this point when programs have been lost and classes are overcrowded, it doesn't matter. The issue is still lack of funding NOW.
Patti T March 10, 2011 at 07:57 PM
I agree with you Brenda. There is a lack of funds. My response above was posted shortly after yours, but it was in response to Martin Finn's post.
martin finn March 10, 2011 at 08:35 PM
I recognize now that it takes a great deal of courage and strength to put yourself out there and run for school board, especially now in Lemont with the difficulties. I couldn't do it. For the most part, the candidates can be very proud of themselves for their performance, I think. But, as I looked around the room at all the concerned citizens and parents, and I heard endless talk of financial problems, "this area closed due to financial difficulties," "the stigma on a community due to state involvement" I also realized that being a board member is a very important responsibility. I know I am being hard on them, but, it was a funding problem is not an adequate explanation for the devastation. I have looked at that side of the equation enough to know that. I am sorry. Leadership is needed too. I also saw a few candidates I thought had some of those qualities.
martin finn March 11, 2011 at 03:51 AM
Just returned from Tea party Forum, a little different flavor from last night's but very informative. Did you know that currently about $1200 dollars of every students per pupil spending every year goes to Wall Street investors, that is, the bond holders.? Did you know that significant bond debt is coming due for both 210 and 113A in the upcoming years from bond sales in 2006 and 2001, I believe? Read that as increased property taxes regardless of what happens to the current referendum. There was an honest discussion of the need for more money for the district to repair some of the damages the kids have experienced. Which prompts this question? Where were Mr. Molitor, Mr. Taylor and Ms. Kelly? They are asking all citizens to put them in a position of trust and leadership at a very sensitive time. A choice to not show, and I think a very poor one. BTW, two nights at the community center and I still haven't seen ms murphy. When accountability is so important (is she on accountability committee?) she must have a very good reason for not being at either forum. Perhaps I missed the reason as I was 15 minutes late for wednesday event.
Amanda Luevano (Editor) March 11, 2011 at 03:57 AM
Martin, Mrs. Murphy was unable to attend the event last night because she was in contract negotiations with the district. She serves on the district's negotiating team. She did not "choose" not to attend. She was simply unable to. Thanks, Amanda
Patti T March 11, 2011 at 04:46 AM
Martin - that is not accurate. The instructional expenditure per student does not include all expenses incurred by the district. It includes "Expenditures related to activities dealing with the teaching of pupils or the interaction between teachers and pupils. " Debt services expenditures would NOT impact our "spending per pupil" figure. Back to our same four schools from above.... with the exception of Lockport (which is considered a Medium sized district whereas the other are large), Sd113a has the lowest Debt Servicing expense. When I compare their Debt servicing expense to their overall total expense I get the following percentages: District......................%Debt Servicing to Total Expense Woodridge SD68...... . 15.24% Orland SD135............. 15.54% Lockport SD91............ 5.33% Lemont SD113a............12.28% Here are the numbers to get to those percentages District......................Debt Servicing Exp...........Total Expense Woodridge SD68...... . 6,470,573........................42,467,012 Orland SD135............. 11,567,900......................74,437,070 Lockport SD91............ ....371,017...................... 69,54,804 Lemont SD113a............3,175,356........................25,867,273 I pulled this data from the ISBE.net website interactive report cards. Comparing school year 2008-2009 data.

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