There seems to be a war developing between Patch, Nancy Thorner and District 115 Board of Education. Wars bring out the worst in the participants and are destructive. It often misses the point.
The remaining incumbent D 115 BOE member Todd Burgener, takes to task, Patch, for appearing, in his assessment, to be a sop and defender of regular contributor, Nancy Thorner, and Mrs. Thorner for her, “often foolish and misinformed ranting.” Mr. Burgener further scolds Patch for gross inaccuracies in their facts and for presenting, in their pieces, opinions rather than facts. Is there something wrong with opinion if it is stated as opinion?
It is time to bring some clarity, and some thoughts to what is happening at D 115. First, the arrival of new Superintendent, Michael Simeck, is a welcome relief from the narcissistic, egomaniacal, Harry Griffith; for the teachers, staff and the community. All reports to date are positive and full of thanks.
Now, there is the $5MM capital plan for the track at Lindenmeyer Field and other maintenance items. It is true that the BOE turned down the apparent gift from the Booster club for a new field and track and other accoutrements, but did so with good reason. The Booster Club had only non-backed and unguaranteed pledges that could not be assured, leaving D 115 with all the risk. Good call. Now, we are back to the $5mm new bond issued for capital projects that may or may not be worthy. In my view, with an election of a new BOE on the horizon, it is inappropriate for the lame duck BOE to agree to such new obligations.
In his letter to Patch, Mr. Burgener calls attention to the misstatement of the cost of the 2006 renovation to be $75mm when the BOE has constantly postured that it was $54MM. In this case, both numbers are wrong. It is also wrong to imply, as the BOE so often boasted, the 2006 renovation came in on time and on budget. If the foregoing is accurate, why did the BOE, in 2008, approve and secure, additional debt with an $8MM Bond Issue through Chicago based William Blair Company? How and why was this new debt kept under the radar screen? Because, the debt service did not require a referendum as it was to be paid for from current operating funds. All true, but could the District afford new debt service and principal retirement obligations when already running deficits or nearly breakeven budgets, and reserves dangerously low? And, what was the $8MM to be used for? Answer, it was to complete the renovations promised in the 2006 referendum. Little things like the Information Technology infrastructure were never implemented, and considerable spending on the West Campus Administrative facilities. So, the highly touted “on time and on budget” theme was not exactly accurate! While the 2006 plan was not $75MM it was not $54, it was closer to $62MM, about a 13% miss.
Rather than taking Mrs. Thorner to task for her “often foolish and misinformed ranting,” it would do well for the community and the BOE to actually read her well researched and well-reasoned articles and letters. Informed citizens who present and articulate their thoughts as Nancy Thorner does, is a public service and helps keep local government in line. Her efforts should be applauded, not ridiculed. Her most recent paper posted in Patch, exposing the obscene administrative overhead and waste at D 115, is an example of the watchdog devotion she exhibits to fiscally sound government, at any level.
Finally, we should honor those who unselfishly serve our communities with public service in such capacities as the Boards of Education. Their work is a thankless task, and we are fortunate to have their services.
Al Boese Lake Bluff