Over a year ago I posted “Does District 103 Mater?” In it I rhetorically asked if the good people in Lyons Elementary School District 103 cared that the mayor of Lyons had taken over the school district. Well they did care, because two days ago three of Mayor Getty’s hand-picked school board members were voted out – they now have a minority of seats!
I can’t tell you how the news of this election buoyed my spirits. After watching the worst kind of self-serving and anti-individual-rights politics for the past few months, it is refreshing to find out that people still care enough about their schools to vote for those who care about children.
Democracy still works in America for those who stand up for what is right.
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.
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:
Assistant to the superintendent
Benefits Coordinator/Receptionist (see above)
Director of Technology
Director of Curriculum
Title I/ELL Coordinator
Director of Special Education
Director of Buildings and Grounds
Principal of George Washington Middle School
Assistant Principal, George Washington Middle School
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.
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:
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.
No board members had an opportunity to review the many-paged extension contract before the board meeting.
Hastings receives an 11.1% increase in pay, going from $900 per day to $1000 per day.
Hastings’s contract is four years long – unheard of for school administrators.
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.
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.
Over the course of the four-year contract Hastings will receive $461,494 in compensation for 400 days of work.
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.
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.
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?
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.
It’s been awhile since we’ve checked in on the Lyons Elementary School District 103. As you recall, Lyons’ Mayor Getty successfully funded a campaign to take over the school board. Some items for reflection and further investigation:
Open Meetings Act Flaunted? – Is it true that interim superintendent Kyle Hastings meets with the four new board members in his office immediately before each board meeting. The new district attorney is in there too (at $175/ hour), so he should know if they are violating the Open Meeting Act, shouldn’t he? Of course the “old” board members aren’t invited – probably because they know how to read an agenda and make up their own minds on important issues. It appears that some of the “new” board members don’t even bother to look at the board meeting agenda.
Replacement Already Picked? (Part 1) – Some have noted the action item on the board agenda for a “temporary part-time superintendent secretary.” I thought Marge was doing just fine. The logic is to train someone (for a year?) to take Marge’s place when she retires. Some long-time district employees have inquired about the position but were told that they would have to resign their current full-time position before they could apply for the part-time position – unreasonable at best. So current employees are effectively shut out of the process. Presumably, someone unfamiliar with the district has already been selected to replace Marge. They will be paying two people to do one job – seems like the “new” board members got upset when the “old” board did the same thing last spring.
New District Office Position Needed? – The “new” board members voted in a new position – Staff Accountant. The district didn’t seem to need one of these for the past 50 years or so. How does this help keep a lid on spending?
Marge Is Packed Up. Ready to Go? – Marge has packed up all her personal belonging from her office. Does this have anything to do with the previous items? Will she be there to train the new person?
Replacement Already Picked? (Part 2) – Nobody is more important to a superintendent than her/his secretary. So it seems odd that Marge’s replacement has already been selected. Any superintendent worth their salt would insist on selecting their own secretary. Could it be that the next superintendent has already been selected and approved the new secretary? Or will Kyle continue on for a few more years as “interim” superintendent?
Expert at PlayStation and Wii? – The “new” board’s selection to replace Bryan Drozd as Tech Director has a high school degree. Will he be able to master the sophisticated systems currently operating and successfully supervise 6 staff members? The district has posted Jakub’s position as well, seeking an individual with a bachelors degree.
The natives are getting restless. They’re putting on war-paint and gathering at the harbor. Soon they’ll sneak out to the ships and dump the tea overboard. Why? Taxation Without Representation!
The good people of Lyons, McCook, Stickney, Brookfield and Forest View elected Michael Bennett, Jorge Torres, Katie Broderick and Coleen Shipbaugh to the Lyons Elementary School District 103 board of education to represent their interests. They looked at their latest Cook County tax bill and saw that the school district takes the biggest bite of their taxes, so they wanted people on the school board to make good decisions on their behalf (STOP THE WASTE! BE ACCOUNTABLE!). That didn’t happen.
They didn’t make the most important decision they were elected for – to select the superintendent. It’s clear to me that they never even met Kyle Hastings before they tried to vote him in as superintendent (prior to when they were legally seated as board members). I’ll bet they hadn’t even read his resume before the board meeting they did vote him in.
Mayor Getty had met Kyle Hastings. He made the decision – for all the taxpayers in Lyons, McCook, Stickney, Brookfield and Forest View. He wasn’t elected as a school board member. Taxation Without Representation!
PS – Mr. Hastings will be interim superintendent for 130 odd days. Who will select the superintendent who will be in charge of the district for years?