Mob rule in District 74
Updated: May 20, 2012 8:35AM
Evan Kleeburg is a graduate of Lincoln Hall and the husband of former Lincolnwood School District 74 board president Amy Frankel.
Lincolnwood School District 74 is being run by a mob. Hiding behind pseudonyms and invite only Facebook groups, they disgorge complaints with limited facts to support their allegations. Neither do they bring alternate ideas nor solutions to problems they have blown out of portion. Search “District 74” and look at the comments on any article; they are full of obloquy, false accusation, unfounded personal attack, and little constructive criticism.
Admittedly, there was bad judgment surrounding some financial transactions amounting to roughly $6,500, but there isn’t evidence that $1.6 million is “missing.” What has it cost the district to pursue ghost larceny? Over $40,000 in time and materials; more than six times the questioned sum. Were this the entire issue I would pay no attention.
What’s behind this I cannot say, but there is clear resentment over the handling of the Administration Building, built in 2009. And based on statements I have heard in Audience to Visitors during school board meetings there is a Luddite mentality — open fear of embracing technology as a tool for education and fear of diversity!
This fear and anger fueled the defeat of the Lincoln Hall referendum, not fact and detail. Just look at the Points of Concern with the information Open House, hosted by the district to inform the community of proposed details for a new middle school. I’ll address three of the points.
Point: All three firms presenting have a conflict of interest, they are vying for the actual work contract. Counterpoint: Who besides the experts proposing the work can present it better?
Point: Constant referral to sprinklers and ADA compliance… The building is grandfathered and does not require fire sprinklers or ADA compliance unless major renovation is taken on. Counterpoint: We don’t want sprinklers or ADA compliance in our school system? I guess that might invite the wrong kind of people into our village.
Point: Former Superintendent Mark Klaisner refused to video-record the question-and-answer section so the information is not available to the community. Counter Point: First, no matter what you think of Dr. Klaisner, he has earned his title and is due that respect. Refusing to address people by their proper designation is intentionally disrespectful; that base level of rhetoric is beneath the dignity of our village. Second, two sessions were available to the public, anyone calling the district with questions received answers. Most of this information is available via the district website. Stating the information is not available to the community is misleading and inaccurate.
It is a requirement of citizens in a representative democracy to be informed and remain vigilant of their elected officials; I applaud any citizen who does this actively. But we cannot live by fear and hyperbole. So venomous is the dissent that two qualified educators have chosen to leave our district, let’s hope other do not choose to follow them. And two vetted retired superintendents, selected by our elected officials, refused to be seated in the midst of raucous and unruly debate.
Let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture. For the 41 years I have lived here Lincolnwood has had a top school district in Illinois. We are on the cutting edge of using technology in the classroom. The past 10 years our average ISAT scores exceed state average scores by 10 percent; our students win awards for writing, the arts and their experiments go up on space shuttles. After a nationwide credit crisis and amidst headlines lamenting underfunded schools our finances are solid. We have a credit rating of AA+ according to S&P, and we are better capitalized than most districts in the state, or the nation. Educators from all over come to District 74 to see how we enhance our curriculum by leveraging technology. It is this we should be known for not what has occurred the past six months.
And where are we headed? Our district is leaderless and may be for some time. We are losing the respect of our peer districts, and threatening our leadership role in the world of education. What effects will this have on families with children considering our village as their home? Only time will tell.