The more we cover Triton College, the more concerns we have. And those concerns should extend to Forest Park residents as well. A sizable chunk of Triton’s property tax revenue comes from our local taxpayers.
Is it money well spent? That’s very hard to say since Triton is one of the most closed bodies of government we’ve ever come across.
Governance issues have long been an issue at Triton, and that was even before the Rosemont takeover of the board in the early ’90s. Any board that keeps the same chairman for almost 15 years (Mark Stephens, son of Rosemont Mayor Donald Stephens) raises significant questions. And there has been little turnover of the other board members during the same decade and a half.
That isn’t healthy-and it may partly explain why attendance has fallen significantly during Stephens’ and this board’s tenure.
Triton’s board has operated in a notably opaque manner with very little oversight or accountability-with the exception of one League of Women Voters observer who regularly noted their questionable procedures.
That needs to change. In fact, a lot needs to change at a community college once touted as a state model. The accrediting agency needs to assert its authority and investigate this situation. The Triton board has violated the spirit as well as the letter of the Open Meetings Act on a consistent basis. They appear to go beyond the traditional school board role of setting policy and instead exert control over day-to-day operations, thanks to a series of submissive, toe-the-line administrators, hand-picked for their reluctance to rock the boat.
Voters have a chance to do something about all this next April when two Triton seats are up for election. Oak Park and River Forest voters represent a sizable chunk of the district’s electorate. Now is the time for prospective candidates to start thinking about running.
And about voting. We will continue to cover Triton until then so voters will have more background for casting their ballots.
Triton College needs a change.