Hononegah School Board election: setting the record straight
I am a member of the Board of Education of the Hononegah high School District #207. I also serve on the Board of Directors of the state level Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB). In addition, I am also honored to serve on the Talcott Free Library board.
One might ask why have I chosen to serve in unpaid positions on each of these boards….. The answer is simple; I believe that a quality education of our young people is the best path to a successful and fulfilling life, career and citizenship and that my experience as a retired international business executive as well as the parent of two amazing children contribute to this goal. Similar motivations can be seen among other members of the current board of education. Please note that below are my thoughts and mine alone and do not represent any of the boards on which I currently serve. This may be a bit long and I appreciate your patience.
This April 4th, the communities of Rockton, Roscoe, S. Beloit and Shirland will be voting for four positions on the Hononegah High School District #207 Board of Education. Across social media and in a number of opinion columns there have been statements made that, in a several instances, are erroneous or outright misleading. I offer my considered thoughts below in an attempt to set the record straight.
- During the period of the pandemic we as a nation and as a local community, were challenged in keeping, among other sectors, the education of our young people on course and effective. Across the nation boards of education addressed the issues of masking and remote learning differently. They also interacted with their communities in very different ways, many effective but some disrespectful and derisive toward their constituents. Unfortunately, many boards were often lumped in with these less then admirable boards as being tone deaf with their constituency. This conflation was unfortunate. It is not representative of the Hononegah board or community.
One additional point that needs to be emphasized is that boards of education are governed to a great extent by the governor, state legislators and state boards of education through school laws. Boards are obligated to follow these school laws as did Hononegah.
- It has been alleged that Hononegah’s board of education and administration do not connect with or listen to parents and the community. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any constituent can speak to the board and administration at an open board meeting during a public comment period. It must be understood, however, that the board cannot comment as a board at that time since each individual board member has listened to their own constituents and have their own thoughts and opinions on a given topic. To speak “as a board” there has to be further discussion and often compromise in order to arrive at a consensus. Much of this work is done at a committee level, meeting of which are also open to the public. In addition members of the current board interact with the community on a daily basis; talking with neighbors, friends and others we meet during our daily lives. Members do not live in a bubble. In addition, our contact information is listed on the Hononegah web site and we are open to hear directly from any constituent.
Further, on the issue of parental/community involvement Hononegah’s administration regularly develops and submits to the board of education a ‘Five Year Strategic Plan’ for approval. The development of this plan is not the work solely of the administration. Working teams are appointed to cover the various aspects of administering a district comprising nearly 2000 students, 100’s of teachers and a sizable budget. These teams are made up of individual administrators, teachers, community leaders and last, but certainly not least, students and parents. These teams work tirelessly over weeks and months to develop the strategic plan which is then submitted to the board for review and, in some cases, revision before final approval. Again direct parental input is encouraged, welcome and valued.
- Another direct quote from one candidate currently running for the board targeting boards of education reads, “School boards? They rarely see the inside of a classroom, much less instruct students.”
Boards of Education are ‘governing entities’. It is not the role of a board of education to micromanage; to be “in the classroom”, nor is it the role of the board to “instruct students”.
- Finally, there have been instances casting aspersions and other untrue allegations toward one or more of the current board members. This behavior is uncalled for, unprofessional and unacceptable as a model for others, among them our young people, to emulate.
In closing, the current board consists of seven members comprising a broad and varied range of experiences across several fields, including education, legal and business as well as parenting. It is, by no means, a ‘rubber stamp’ board. At our meetings there is a lively interchange of probing questions, debate and discussion among the members themselves and with the superintendent, administrators and staff. Only then do we vote and the majority rules
It has been and is a board that has structured policies and strategies designed toward aiding your students to reach their full potential and Hononegah to achieve its position as the #1 high school in the Rockford metro area and in the top 10% of high schools in the State and across the United States.
It is for this reason that I support and endorse Vote 1,2,3 on the ballot for Dave Kurlinkus, Evan Schoepski and Mary Lewis for Hononegah’s Board of Education in the upcoming April 4 election.