Video of May 19th RLA D116 Regular School Board Meeting
It’s no secret that the current Round Lake Area School District 116 Board and their supporters were miffed at the outcome of the March high school building bond referendum, even going so far as to blame outside interference for its defeat. It’s also a poorly kept secret that they plan to take another stab at it this coming November during the general election. Tack a potential $22 million referendum win onto the $1,000,000 it’s costing taxpayers to cover the cost of “mirroring” a similar size school that has the ability to get the job done (rather than being taken over again by the State), along with a couple of hundred thousand dollars to lease a school in Lake Villa, and you can understand why your tax bill never seems to go down. It’s quite obvious that the current school board, that walks lock-step on approving motions, is way out of control when it comes to spending taxpayer’s hard earned money.
At the General School Board meeting held on May 19, 2014, they were originally going to approve a hastily announced lease with Lake Villa School District #41 for TEN years at an average cost of $200,000. This news was sprung on the general population with no input, open meetings, or prior discussion with parents or local residents. The lease in question was written about here in an earlier posting for those who may have missed it. A decision to remove the lease agreement from the agenda was made shortly before the meeting and its removal officially made by a motion due to “a couple pending items to be finalized“. If you look back over previous meeting minutes you will come up empty-handed on anything to do with a District 41 lease discussion. NADA!
However, you WILL find that the employment agreement for Superintendent Dr. Constance Collins was renewed for a term ending June 30, 2018 with no Board member voting against the motion to approve. You will also find many instances where the school health services are being modified due to the construction of the school-based clinic under construction and being leased to Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center (with few details regarding the lease itself).
The General meeting lasted for only 17 minutes before they went into closed session. During those 17 minutes a number of retiring teachers were recognized for their years of service. A nice touch would have been to have had some cake and refreshments out in the hallway for friends and colleagues, who showed up, to enjoy with them after they received their certificate of appreciation.
Getting back to the idea of busing kindergarten kids to Lake Villa, there was a lot of concern and questions brought up by those who hung around during the closed session. Some pointed out the drive time for a parent to get to the school if their child was in need, as many students are when they leave the roost for their first year in school. One person mentioned that it’s a 12 minute commute on a Google search providing they don’t get caught in traffic. My thoughts are that it’s cruel and inhumane treatment to take a frightened first year school kid who may be at the first bus stop, and send him/her on an hour-long ride. Talk about trauma for both the parents and the child. Is that the way to introduce a newbie to school? Another thing that few in the community knew was that the school district is currently leasing space at both the Park District as well as St. Paul Lutheran Church for preschool kids until minimum details of the lease agreement were released. So much goes on behind the scenes even though the school board talks about being more transparent. A number of other questions have been asked such as whether parents were surveyed to see if they were willing to have their kindergarten kids bused to Lake Villa, what is the additional costs to relocate the staff members, why is the lease for ten years, who pays for utilities and insurance, etc. These questions have all met with silence from the Board members.
One other thing worth mentioning is the breakfast and lunches that the kindergarten classes receive each day. These meals, some of them hot meals, will arrive at the Round Lake school facility and then be delivered to Lake Villa. Sometimes these meals arrive late and class schedules are disrupted which will mean more headaches for those holding the classes elsewhere. Perhaps the Superintendent and School Board should start focussing more on following their own recently adapted Communication Plan of including the parents and community as well as the overall effects this whole idea will have on a small child and his or her parents instead of just getting a lease ironed out, approved, and signed so that they can get on with pushing through the multi-million dollar high school referendum again!
In the following full length video of the meeting you will see Dr. Collins assistant, Heather, walk around and turn everyone’s mic on as well as off before the closed meeting. Yet, you won’t find anyone pulling it up in front of them so that people in the back of the room can hear what’s being said. I increased the audio by 6dB before uploading it hoping you would be able to hear what is being said, even though it adds a small overall hum.
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