About 5 years ago Chris Getty, mayor of Lyons, IL, decided he would take over the Lyons Elementary School District 103. He ran a slate of candidates for the school board and one was elected. Four years later he got four of his candidates elected, so now he controls the school board. Does anybody care?
District 103 is a small district (one square mile) with less than 3,000 students sitting in the shadows of Chicago. So why does it matter? To me, it’s a test case: do people in the community care who runs their schools? I don’t think it’s right that a powerful person can just decide to take over a school district – not because he wants better schools, but because he wants more power.* Do the people care?
I’m curious to see…
- Can anyone put together a war chest bigger than Mayor Getty’s for the next school board election? Or more importantly, will anyone try?
- Once the residents of McCook, Stickney, Forest View, and Brookfield know that the mayor of Lyons is controlling their schools will they object?**
- Will the parents of District 103 stand up for the teachers who are feeling disenfranchised and are looking to teach somewhere else?**
- Will the taxpayers continue to allow an attorney, being paid $185/hr, to speak for the board president and run the day-to-day affairs of the school district?
- Is the teachers’ union going to stand up and act on behalf of the students?
Ten months from now nominating petitions for District 103 school board positions will be submitted. Can anyone stop Mayor Getty? Does anybody care?
* Similarly, I don’t think it’s right that a corporation can be given a special status as a charter school – not because they want better schools, but because they want to make a profit.
** I’d be interested in hearing from you about your concerns. You can email me (from home with a non-District 103 email address) at firstname.lastname@example.org. All responses will be kept anonymous.