Time for a change — 9/23/2010

September 23, 2010:

The good news is there will be an election in April. That means people will decide to run, knock on doors, listen to voters and build their platforms. Most important, it means voters will decide the future course of Riverside Brookfield High School.

Given the $2.2 million red-ink budget just passed by the four Board members whose terms are ending, it will be easy for new faces to contrast themselves with the Board majority.

This majority has a record of ups and downs:


Larry Herbst recruited David Bonnette one day.
Jim Marciniak led the hiring of Pam Bylsma.
Larry Herbst welcomed public input from the Citizens Committee, from a Green Committee, from the FLRSPC committee, and from other groups along the way.
Jim Marciniak made personnel changes that were overdue, hugely significant and abundantly justified.


The majority:

Gave employee benefits to non-employees without a Board vote

Wasted $700,000 of our money on something called the “Paw and Cyberdog”, without so much as a curricular plan

Ignored its own nepotism policy to the benefit of one of its own members, then voted to change the policy to allow the situation it had ignored, and then refused to publish the revised policy (as of a few days ago)

Allowed our former superintendent to hold his position and draw his salary illegally

Learned that under its supervision and responsibility our former superintendent was one of half-a-dozen employees prowling around the building without proper certificates, each one of whom was in their respective position — and drawing salary from our taxes — illegally

Conducted an illegal meeting in May 2009 at which it voted to destroy official recordings of dozens of their closed meetings, with scant public disclosure of what happened at those meetings

Voted down an independent investigation of how RB welcomed a bonded-out indictee for possession of drugs with intent distribute, who made a significant drug sale in his North Riverside basement to a confidential Chicago Police Department drug squad informant, whose home was found to have a panoply of drug distribution scales, bagging machines, etc., who it further turns out has multiple arrests involving drugs, alcohol and judgment errors — inside RB as a volunteer wresting coach — only to bury their own “investigation” and hope no one would remember the access they had given this individual to our kids

Approved a contract with the teachers union, accounting for between 60 and 80 percent of operating expenses, depending who you ask, that THEY KNEW THEY COULD NOT AFFORD [not to be picky, but the Teachers union had just endorsed two of them for re-election]. This is the leak in our bow that’s making our finances imitate the Titanic on an April night long ago… blub.

Goofed up an investigation of our rangy former superintendent so that he could make a false exculpatory denial, be investigated on our dime, be found to have lied to them, us and the RB Landmark newspaper, and then… stick us with the bill for investigating his lying. [I know that sounds crazy, especially if you just moved to town, but they blithely made us pay for discovering his lie. What’s with that?]

And then — they kept him on the payroll, even after they learned he had no certificate. Who even thinks this way? And why are they in charge of our kids’ education?

Tossed 1800 signatures of district residents who demanded a referendum on a school board payday loan to cover the deficit created by their idiotic contract. The $5 million they thus acquired has become the biggest shell in their fiscal shell game ever since.

And more, and more, and more…

Yes, it has been a rough patch. Despite all of these, and the many more failures we will surely discuss between now and April, our teachers, many of whom are absolutely first-rate, have found ways to educate our kids, to their everlasting credit. Good things happen every day at RB…

but not enough of them.

I hope that from LaGrange Park, Brookfield, North Riverside, Broadview, the sliver of Lyons and Riverside candidates will rise up who have academic qualification, professional distinction, helpful experience, a record of civic involvement, and a giant appetite for cleaning up a fiscal mess to empower the teachers and our faithful administrators. Let’s get the community behind them. No district deserves what Larry Herbst, MariAnn Leibrandt, Sue Kleinmeyer and Jim Marciniak have done — in toto. This district deserves a Board that is dedicated in everything it does to creating and sustaining the finest Illinois public high school of its size.

[By the way, I am happy to debate any one or all four of them any time, not that anyone cares or would come, but I make the offer to emphasize I speak in my own voice and will gladly stand up for my assertions.]

It takes candidates. And it takes candidates who repudiate the mismanagement of the Herbst Era. Institutionally, the RB Board has never acknowledged any of these massive failures. David Bonnette, to hiseverlasting credit, has been frantically mopping up over there for 16 months, after a six-year utter abdication of leadership that was aided and abetted by the Herbst Board. Dr. Bonnette deals with the reality they created, they specialize in make-believe.

This means that politically a decision made by the voters — us — never again to allow another period like what we have been through.

The first representative act of an officeholder is circulating petitions. They are now available at the district office. Signatures are due in December.

Are you up for a challenge? Do you want to make positive change stick? This is an extraordinary chance to make a good high school great, or a great high school spectacular. It will not be easy. The Titanic sunk. But no reward will ever equal your sense of a job exceedingly well done for others.

If you can, please consider it. There are many who stand ready to help. They know — it is time for a change.

POSTED THURSDAY SEP 23, 2010 20:40 #
Explore posts in the same categories: Riverside Brookfield High School -- Turnaround

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