District 116 kindergarten students to attend Lake Villa location
There was never any doubt by those who attended the Monday night Round Lake Area School District 116 Board meeting that the $178,000 annual lease agreement for the use of Pleviak Elementary School in Lake Villa for the next ten years would not be approved. If terms had been worked out prior to the last Board meeting it would have already been signed, sealed, and delivered by now. Even with a larger than usual turnout at Monday night’s meeting, with numerous parents voicing their objections, it failed to sway one single board member who walk in lock-step on almost everything that comes up for a vote. In fact, Superintendent Constance Collins already had a lengthy prepared speech ready to read immediately after the motion and second were made to approve the lease agreement.
The vote, along with Dr. Collins comments begins at the 37:55 mark in the following full-length video below. One interesting thing that Dr. Collins mentions is that the process of locating a place within the district for early education began back in 2010 and that the conversation to lease Pleviak Elementary School began back in November of 2013. One of the people who spoke up at the meeting told me that even though his child is now registered for kindergarten he STILL has not received any notification regarding students possibly being bussed to Lake Villa. When it comes to transparency this Board would earn a failing grade as the following example clearly shows:
In Dr. Collins remarks (beginning at 43:48) she states “We are prepared, following the Boards vote, to begin implementing the plan. The first step will be to communicate with our families, staff, and community members………..” This might be an indicator of why the conversation in the hallway during the Closed Session turned to finding candidates to run against those coming up for re-election to the Board who don’t wait until after the fact to communicate.
A question was asked regarding almost $316,000 being paid to the architectural firm of Fanning & Howey and how it was being paid. During the public comment period the Board just sits and listens, offering no answers or responses. However, prior to the Closed Session I was told that they have allocated $500,000 from the General Operating Fund and that this amount will be reflected in the upcoming proposed budget. This is in anticipation of once again trying to get area voters to approve a massive $29 million referendum this coming November. If that fails like it did this past March, this half-million dollars will simply deprive other areas that need attention of getting any funds. It’s like betting on a long shot in a horse race with someone else’s money.
During the agenda approval process, Board President Nanci Radford MOVED the second Public Comment, which was scheduled for AFTER the vote on the lease agreement, to just prior to the Closed Session. What was discussed between the first Public Comment portion and the (now moved) second Public Comment was not likely to generate any additional comments. The one person who did speak at the second comment portion stayed until after the Board came back from Closed Session and could have added his comments as well as any others who would have liked to express their dissatisfaction with the final vote.
One thing worth noting that was on the agenda for everyone to see was the “Approval and Suspension Without Pay and Termination of (name omitted here)“. This seemed quite odd since these types of disciplinary, performance, and dismissal issues usually remain behind closed doors in the Closed Session. I’ve since been told that this had to do with a teacher who was not aware of his/her dismissal and showed up for work today only to be denied access to the classroom even to gather his/her personal belongings. Another teacher who came to his/her defense was also terminated on the spot. It kind of makes you wonder what the morale is among the teachers at District 116, doesn’t it?
UPDATE Tuesday 9:00 PM
I just returned from the school business center on South Rosedale where a number of parents had gathered to protest the Pleviak lease that was approved last night as well as the firing of a popular teacher. I may have some photos later this evening of some of the protest signs and of the teacher(s) exiting the building with their personal belongings. From what I understand the teacher referred to in last night’s agenda is certified through 2017 but was being forced into taking another certified course in order to remain in the school system. The teacher told me that this was just one of many ongoing harassment issues brought upon the teacher by the current administration and the teacher also mentioned the number of other Spanish teachers who have been terminated over the last year. When this teacher arrived at the school the teacher was barred from going to the classroom and also from retrieving personal items. That is when another teacher, who spoke up and tried to assist, was abruptly given an early termination. At that point the school officials called the police and four officers showed up. The teacher was told that (s)he could no longer be on school grounds and given a time this evening to return for personal belongings. The second teacher was allowed to retrieve personal belongings during the normal classroom hours. I may have some photos later on to show the protest as well as the removal of personal belongings but first want to be sure that both teachers are in agreement with sharing the photos.
Apparently, much earlier in the day, parents had started calling the administration office to meet with someone there but nobody would pick up the phone. I was also informed that Superintendent Dr. Collins circled the area where the protest was going on, slowed, but did not stop or go into the business offices. She may have been making sure that the teacher barred from the school grounds was not beyond a certain fence line that indicates the school property line but then again, who knows what her reason was for not wanting to talk to parents. You certainly could not have driven past and not seen them considering the large number that was out on the sidewalk and along the parked cars.