Snollygoster in District 103? It’s Your Choice

 

 

u-turn
Graphic Courtesy of the HikingArtist.com

Snollygoster (Def.): A politician who puts politics ahead of principle

On April 4th the good people of Lyons, McCook, Stickney, Forest View and Brookfield will be voting to elect school board members for Lyons Elementary School District 103.  I endorse Sharon Anderson, Shannon Johnson and Marge Hubacek.

Why? Because for the past 2 years the board members that snollygoster Chris Getty put in place haven’t made decisions that are good for children.  In fact, they made decisions that are good for Getty, which are ultimately bad for children.

When you hire Getty’s buddy at $1,000+ per day and hire a bunch of unneeded custodians you are taking money away from children.  That’s what snollygosters do – they make decisions that are good for themselves and not for the good of the children.

If the people of Lyons want to continue voting Getty in as mayor, that’s their choice.  But do the people of Stickney, Forest View, McCook and Brookfield want Getty and his henchmen to continue making poor decisions regarding their children?  I hope not.  I would urge them to vote for Anderson, Johnson, and Hubacek.  Their commitment is to the children, not to the politicians.

 

PS – I had an old D103 friend contact me the other day and asked why I haven’t been writing any Education Under Attack articles.  I told her I’ve been retired and away from District 103 for almost five years now.  It’s not my fight anymore – it’s the community’s.  I hope they take their responsibility for their children seriously and vote in school board members who will put children first.

STOP THE WASTE & BE ACCOUNTABLE: Part 6 of 13

lion-office-jungle-law-illustration-by-frits-ahlefeldt

Graphic Courtesy of Hikingartist.com

I had to call the Lyons School District 103 Admin Building the other day.  A very nice woman picked up and greeted me with “Village of Lyons.  Oops, sorry (giggle).  School District 103.”

It got me wondering how many people have left District 103 since Mayor Getty’s school board began just over a year ago (see HERE, HERE or HERE for more).  The list:

  1. Assistant to the superintendent
  2. Payroll Coordinator
  3. Benefits Coordinator/Receptionist (see above)
  4. Director of Technology
  5. Network Administrator
  6. Infrastructure Support
  7. Director of Curriculum
  8. Title I/ELL Coordinator
  9. Director of Special Education
  10. Director of Buildings and Grounds
  11. Principal of George Washington Middle School
  12. Assistant Principal, George Washington Middle School
  13. Principal of Costello School

Those 13 who left collectively had about 200 years of experience in education.  Most of the replacements for the above staff are friends of Getty, former (and current) Village of Lyons employees, or recommended to Getty by his friends.  They collectively have about 50 years of school experience.

It’s not clear if they understand if they are working for School District 103 or the Village of Lyons.  Or perhaps it is clear.

Stop the Waste & Be Accountable – Part 5 of $461, 494

money-heap-how-much-is-enough

Under “Action Items” on the February 25, 2016 Lyons Elementary School District 103 board agenda was listed, ” XIII E. Motion to Approve Contract Extension for Kyle Hastings as Assistant Superintendent.”

Let’s look at this in a little more detail:

  1. This was not a “contract extension” as Hastings will no longer be the superintendent.  The board ended his current contract and created a completely new position of Assistant Superintendent (which the district never had before) and hired Hastings.
  2. No board members had an opportunity to review the many-paged extension contract before the board meeting.
  3. Hastings receives an 11.1% increase in pay, going from $900 per day to $1000 per day.
  4. Hastings’s contract is four years long – unheard of for school administrators.
  5. Hastings will receive an automatic 3.25% increase in each of the next three years of his contract.  That means in year-four of the contract his salary will be almost $121,000.
  6. Assuming Hastings also receives board-paid health insurance at about $10,000 per year, his first year income will be $110,000 for 100 days of work.  This is about $2.30 per MINUTE of work.
  7. Over the course of the four-year contract Hastings will receive $461,494 in compensation for 400 days of work.
  8. He says he is going to take over the work of Jason Gold.  Mr. Gold’s title was “Coordinator of ELA and Math Initiatives, and Teacher/Principal Retention and Development.”  Hastings isn’t certified to be the ELA coordinator or to evaluate teachers and principals.  He has little or no knowledge of K-8 mathematics.
  9. Hastings said he will also help out in “human resources.”    The board has already hired two people to do the job of the one person (Judy Pohanka) who was doing human resources for many years.  What this probably means is that Hastings’ job will be to check with Mr. Getty before each new staff member is hired.
  10. Getting back to the numbers, Hastings making $110,000 for 100 days of work is equivalent to $253,000 per year for a superintendent working 230 days.

So why the huge contract?  Four years?  A total of $461,484?  Does Hastings have dirty pictures of Getty?  Does Getty owe Hastings for some big favor worth about a half-million dollars?  Or is Getty “paying forward” for some big future favor?  Does it have anything to do with Kyle Hasting’s son Michael Hastings, senator of the 19th Illinois Legislative District? Looking for more turf to control, Chris?

 

 

On the horizon: At the March 24, 2016 board meeting they set up a committee to review the district’s insurance contracts.  Hey, doesn’t Chris Getty own an insurance company?

Does District 103 Matter?

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Graphic Courtesy of hikingartist.com

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 education.under.attack@gmail.com.  All responses will be kept anonymous.

 

 

 

STOP THE WASTE & BE ACCOUNTABLE! Part 2 of $175

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As predicted here at educationunderattack.info there’s a new chair at the school board table – a $175/hr chair.  From now on an attorney from Odelson & Sterk will be seated next to the board president at board meetings.  Interim superintendent Kyle Hastings seemed surprised that the board had somehow muddled through the past 40-50 years without an attorney advising them during board meetings.  So if the meeting goes three hours the district pays $525 for the attorney to sit and watch District 103 kids sing, or to listen to a report on the drainage problems at Robinson, or hear a parent complain about state testing, or … you get the idea.

More predictions!

1) Mr. Hastings will not be making $800/day like those wasteful interim superintendents who preceded him.

2) Mr. Hastings will collect a check for every working-day from now till June 30th.  Isn’t he a mayor somewhere, too?

STOP THE WASTE & BE ACCOUNTABLE!

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Graphic courtesy of http://www.hikingartist.com

That’s what the pink flyer Mayor Getty’s assistant handed me said.  “THE OLD SCHOOL BOARD IS ONLY INTERESTED IN WASTING YOUR MONEY!!!”  So what are the new Lyons District 103 school board members going to do to STOP THE WASTE?

First order of business at Thursday night’s special board meeting was to fire the law firm that served District 103 for 40 years and hire in Odelson & Sterk.  Now I’ve been wondering why the new board members wanted to change the board meetings from Monday to Thursday.  Here’s my guess:  Burt Odelson can’t be there on Mondays.  He’s often at North Riverside or Park Forest’s board meetings on Mondays.  Let’s play this out a little bit and assume it is Burt’s intent to be at each of District 103’s board meetings (or send one of his other attorneys).  The board meets twice a month (24) plus multiple times for goal setting or student disciplinary items (10) for a total of 30 meetings Odelson & Sterk could bill the district for.  Two hours per meeting at $175/hr.  So if I’m right, District 103 could be spending an additional $10,500 per year.  The previous law firm rarely attended board meetings.

The second order of business was to fire the 2 interim superintendents (who had already quit) and hire Mr. Hastings as interim.  If they are so interested in stopping waste why didn’t they bring Dr. Vladika back?  She’s at home collecting a paycheck.  If Mr. Hastings works 38 days till the end of June at $800 per day (we don’t really know what he will be making but that’s what the 2 interims were making) that would be a total of $30,400.

I guess the waste is OK if the money is being spent on your guys.

Can’t Take a Joke?

blind-leading-blind
Courtesy of http://www.hikingartist.com

I hear some people in Getty’s camp were quite upset about the fake To Do list I posted yesterday.  I used to read Mad Magazine and they had stuff like that all the time.  Or how about that funny IRS Form 1040 they run in the Tribune every April 15th?

I’m not sure if they were upset because they thought I actually went into the dumpsters and found the document (in which case they thought it was real) or if they were upset because to was too close to reality (alright I doubt anyone would let them rename the middle school).  Either way they are incensed that Mayor Getty would be depicted in a negative way.  Which brings me back to the flyer I was handed as I went into Monday’s board meeting.

First of all, let’s be clear on where the flyer came from.  Mayor Getty’s assistant Kyle Hastings handed me the flyer.  The flyer was created to make the outgoing board look bad.  Why?  Four of them were leaving the board: one after 10 years of service, one (who was nominated by Mayor Getty) after 6 years of service.  Did the “old school board” do anything to Mayor Getty?  The “old school board” was going to be seated for 15 minutes after the flyer was handed to me.  What was the point of telling all the attendees that the “old school board” was terrible?

Let’s look at the flyer itself:

DID YOU KNOW?

Since the April 7th Election:

• THE OLD SCHOOL BOARD HIRED 3 SUPERINTENDENTS.

-AT A COST OF OVER $400,000 ANNUALLY!

The old school board hired Dr. Vladika as superintendent on January 23, 2012.  On March 30, 2015 the board accepted Dr. Vladika’s retirement.  Her last day was April 20th. The old board moved quickly to fill the gap, hiring two people who had previously acted as interim superintendents in District 103 to do it again.  Cost:  Dr. Vladika $35,500 (estimated salary and benefits of $500/day for 71 days).  Two interims worked 5 1/2 days @ $800 per day for $4,400.  Total – $39,900 or less than one-tenth of what was on the flyer.

• THE OLD SCHOOL BOARD RUSHED THROUGH THE HIRING OF A PRINCIPAL WITHOUT LOOKING INTERNALLY.

-AT A COST OF OVER $100,000 ANNUALLY!

Obviously they don’t know how schools work.  Administrators are given their contracts for the next school year in the spring so you have to hire them from their old district before they sign a contract with a new district.  Wait too long and you don’t get the best candidates to apply.  Yes they looked internally but found a better candidate externally (didn’t they want the best candidate?)  Yes, they paid the best candidate $100,000 – do you think the person was going to work for free?  Look at the salaries of other principals in the area and you’ll find $100,000 is a bargain.

THE OLD SCHOOL BOARD CREATED MORE THAN 12 NEW POSITIONS

You got them there – yes the board approved the addition of UP TO 12 local kids to work mowing the grounds and painting the classrooms over the summer.  The board has approved similar hirings most summers.

THE OLD SCHOOL BOARD IS ONLY INTERESTED IN WASTING YOUR MONEY!!!

THE NEW SCHOOL BOARDS INTENT:

STOP THE WASTE AND BE ACCOUNTABLE!

Show us the “waste” they’re talking about (they better not create any waste along the way).  And let’s see how accountable and transparent the new board members will be.

√ Takeover Board of Education

Outside Flyers

I went to last night’s school board reorganization meeting in Lyons.  As I approached the entrance to the building there were six people, several of them Village of Lyons employees, passing out copies of the agenda with a flyer attached.  The flyer was designed to make the current board of education look bad, with gross inaccuracies, lies and statements like “STOP THE WASTE & BE ACCOUNTABLE!”  Why did they felt the need to rub salt in the wound?  Give a parting shot to those who were leaving the board?  Getty’s henchmen were now the majority of the board and they don’t need to intimidate anyone to do whatever Getty wants them to do.  Kyle Leonard, Getty’s flunky assistant, was passing out the flyers and I pointed out one of the inaccuracies on it and he told me, “Don’t take that too literally.”  When I pointed out another inaccuracy he pointed to the door and said, “Go inside and take a seat!”  When I persisted, he started to get angry at me and again told me to go inside.

Once inside I was amazed at the number of people there – probably 300 (we may never know the exact number as Mayor Getty took the sign-in sheets so he could check off who was there).  Some were Village of Lyons employees, others had yellow t-shirts with “Mom” on them, staff members formed clusters toward the back.  The Village of Lyons’ photographer was there snapping pictures.  I sat down beside two guys with union logos on their shirts.  I asked them why they were there and one replied, “I was told to be here. I’m like a lemming and I go where I’m told.”  He wasn’t from the Lyons area.

Shortly before the start of the meeting four people in front of me got up from their chairs and the newly elected board members were escorted in and were seated in the front row.  The Village of Lyons attorney (soon to be the school district’s attorney) Bert Odelson sat next to the new board members.

First order of business – public participation.  Twenty-three people got up and addressed the old board and new board members.  Comments were split with more than half thanking the outgoing board for their service.  Several got up and recited some of the inaccuracies enumerated in the flyer distributed at the door.  Many gave advice to the incoming board members.  They asked the new board to keep children foremost in their minds.  They implored the new board to keep politics out of the district.

Right before the new board members were sworn in flunky Kyle came up and gave them Mayor Getty’s last-minute instructions.

The rest of the meeting was rather anticlimactic.   The new board members promptly voted each other in as president, vice president and secretary although this was only the second board meeting they’ve ever attended.  They put forth their board meeting schedule without consulting with the other three board members to see if they could make the meetings.

In a violation of Roberts Rules of Order they added an Action Item to the agenda to set a special meeting for Thursday.  The purpose of the meeting is to fire the interim superintendents (who’ve already quit in disgust), hire Kyle Hastings as interim superintendent, fire the district’s law firm, and hire Burt Odelson’s law firm.

I wandered around the room after the meeting ended.  There was Mayor Getty making the rounds and congratulating his four henchmen.  As I talked to parents and staff members I sensed their fear of the future. I was told some staff members were putting their houses up for sale so they could move away from the district.  Parents vowed to keep an eye on the new board  but they realized they were powerless to stop Getty from making whatever change he wanted.

I am saddened by the events in District 103.  I don’t think the new board members are bad people, nor do I think they will speak for the parents and children within the district.  They will speak for person – Mayor Chris Getty.

Getty and Odelson

Odelson and Getty congratulate each other after the board meeting.

How to Buy a School District

Sold-sign

The Lyons Elementary School District 103 was recently purchased for $11,512.  The district, serving 2,600 students in west Cook County, has an annual budget over $30 million.  What a great deal!

How the school district was bought:

The mayor of one of the five communities the district serves, Chris Getty, decided he should be running the district.

Mayor Getty got five of his henchmen to run for the school board.

Mayor Getty helped the henchmen form the Political Action Committee (PAC) Parents for Student Excellence on 2/24/15.  It’s unusual to form a PAC for school board candidates – even in the Chicago area!

Three days later Getty’s own two PACs United Citizens Party and Citizens for Getty each gave Parents for Student Excellence $975 as seed money.  Why such an odd number?  Because the Illinois Board of Elections must be notified within two days of any donations over $1,000.  $975 keeps it under the radar.

Citizens for Getty hid more expenditures as “in-kind contributions” until after the election.  A few days before the election they spent $10,341.95 on “in-kind” printing and mailings on behalf of Parents for Student Excellence.

Not one of the five board candidates gave a penny to Parents for Student Excellence.  Nor did they bother to show up for the League of Women Voters’ candidate forum.

In addition to the $10,341.95 of “in-kind” contributions Parents for Student Excellence spent $1,169.82 on pictures of themselves (for a flyer) and a mailing service.  The PAC spent at total of $11,512.

So what did they spend it on?  They sent out flyers and emails telling the residents that the district was “in disarray,” students got “bad test scores” and that the current board engaged in “wasteful spending.”  (Riverside-Brookfield Landmark)

The PR blitz worked – four of the five henchmen were elected to the board of education.  And Mayor Getty has given them their first marching orders: fire the interim superintendents and hire his political-buddy as superintendent, fire the district’s law firm and hire the mayor’s law firm.  More firings and political hirings will come.

So that’s how you buy a school district for $11,512 – enter your own board candidates (but keep them out of the spotlight), fund their campaign with money from your PAC, use smear tactics against the other candidates, and count the votes on election night.

All figures were obtained from the Illinois Board of Election’s website.

Thanks again to the great reporting by Bob Uphues at the Landmark and his story about campaign funding.

Next time: Follow the Money – where did the money for the three PAC’s come from?

Hostile Takeover – Delayed!

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Mayor Chris Getty of Lyons doesn’t think things through very well.  Granted, he got four of his henchmen elected to the Lyons Elementary School District 103 (Cook County, Illinois) board of education in April by funding their election from his own campaign war chest.  It’s amazing what you can buy with $11,512 – a whole school district!

So the henchmen were scheduled to be sworn in on May 4th according to Illinois School Code and District 103 school board policy.  But Mayor Getty couldn’t wait – he had the village’s attorney “swear in” his henchmen as school board members (will the village of Lyons or School District 103 will be billed for attorney Odelson’s time?).  Then Mayor Getty had his flunky assistant post a school board meeting agenda on the doors of District 103’s Administrative Building.

The agenda announced a previously unscheduled school board meeting at 6 PM Thursday, April 30th in District 103’s Administrative Building.  Nobody except Getty, his attorney, and the four henchmen recognized the legality of the agenda.  Anticipating trouble (Getty’s goons are not known for their civility) the Admin Building was vacated early Thursday afternoon.

According to eyewitness reports, at 6 PM Mayor Getty and about 50 of his followers showed up at the Administrative Building only to find the building closed.  Imagine that – the building wasn’t open to host an illegal meeting!  They were incensed!  Mayor Getty spoke to his people about how unfair it was that his henchmen couldn’t meet (to fire the interim superintendents, hire Getty’s political friend as interim superintendent, fire the district’s law firm, and hire his village’s law firm).  He was so incensed that he encouraged his followers to bombard the school board meeting on May 4th.

So what did you expect, Mayor Getty?  You ignore School Code and school board policy to schedule a meeting and expect to be welcomed there with open arms?  Did you really expect the doors to be open, the seven existing board members to be in attendance, the board’s recording secretary ready to take minutes?  You couldn’t wait four days till your henchmen were legally sworn in to start the patronage?

Four days isn’t very long to wait, but it’s all the staff members in District 103 have under the district’s old philosophy – be of service to children.  After Monday the philosophy changes – be of service to Mayor Getty.