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Diamond Campaign Principals Have No Quarrel

Lake Forest High School School Board and Booster presidents explain position on rejection of Diamond Campaign to improve east campus athletic facilities.

A decision by the Lake Forest High School Board of Education in July not to accept a gift from the Lake Forest High School Boosters to improve east campus athletic facilities has sparked a controversy by some in the community though those most intimately involved are not part of it.

Though the Boosters’ Diamond Campaign, which would have added a turf athletic field, a new track and more did not ultimately materialize, it did help motivate the Board to consider doing some of the work.

Earlier: School Board Considers Spending $5 Million

The District is now discussing replacement of the track at Lindenmeyer Field on the east campus which may not have happened if the Boosters had not proposed it initially, according to Board President Sharon Golan.

“Because they did bring this (proposal) they made us aware of the condition of the track,” Golan said. “The entire project did not come to us in a way we were comfortable with.” She considered the track a positive part of the experience.

The removal of the bleachers at Lindenmeyer Field is already taking place. The lack of snow and cold this winter has enabled the District to dispatch personnel to handle the project who would otherwise be engaged in more seasonal tasks, according to Deputy Superintendent for Finance and Operations Allen Albus.

Past Booster President Brian Vandenberg was a strong advocate of the Diamond Campaign but has accepted the decision. He wishes it was moving forward but is also happy a new track is being considered.

“The Board should move forward with replacement of the outdated track, just as they would have had the Diamond Campaign never come along,” Vandenberg said. “I have no interest in blasting the Board, and not much interest in revisiting their decision.  Do I think they made a mistake?  Yes, absolutely.  Is it a tragedy?  Absolutely not.  We need to keep this in perspective.”

In a letter to the editor to Patch, Board member Todd Burgener voiced an opinion going forward with the proposal based on pledges from donors was not fiscally sound. .

“I don’t know the real reason, but the creditworthiness of our donors is not a credible reason,” Vandenberg said. “Maybe it was just bad timing. Maybe it was poor communication. Maybe they were reluctant to pull the trigger with the teachers’ contract unresolved.  I don’t know.”

The Board decision was made in July while it was engaged in negotiations with the Lake Forest Education Association teachers’ union over a new contract which was not resolved until September.

Golan did not give specific reasons for the decision not to go ahead. She was concerned with the overall scope of the project coupled with economic uncertainty.

“All the pieces did not come together in a way we were comfortable with,” Golan said. “This was an ambitious project with high goals which did not materialize in a way we had all hoped in the current economic environment.”

In addition to Burgener’s letter, Patch has received blog posts and letters from others expressing passionate views on the subject.

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LF Resident January 25, 2013 at 02:15 PM
The Boosters did a terrific job of rallying the community and local businesses for donations and it would have been a wonderful and needed addition to the high school. From a distance and not personally involved, I was impressed with every aspect of their drive - the original needs assessment, marketing, and susequent communications were well done. Obviously my opinion mirrors many other people - in a very tough economic time, they were able to raise a whole lot of cash. At this point, the decision has been made and we need to move on. And do I think it would be helpful (for closure) if the board gave a brief explanation as to why they elected not to move forward? Yes. But I don't think that is going to happen and for any board member to suggest that the Booster senior leadership didn't present an adequate case is in bad taste.
Jim January 25, 2013 at 08:24 PM
Mr Vandenberg, I too hope they move forward. I am slightly confused by part of this article. Is it correct that as the head of the DC you still, at this point , do not know why the proposed money was turned down? Was a smaller gift ever discussed? Who made the final decision?

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