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Cox outlines priorities at District 209

I’ve been reflecting on some important challenges facing Proviso High School District 209. I think the general public has a handle on the controversial issues erupting over the last couple of months. There has been a noticeable increase of citizen participation and concern. However, there is polarization on old and new issues, including Dr. Fields’ exit. The post Dr. Fields era exhibited similar polarization of members in the Mundelein community. They have committed to a two year superintendent search.

I have had this question posed to me more than once in the last few weeks: “What can the community do to help District 209?” Without over simplifying, we need to keep the November 2006 Education Quality Assessment in reserve forethought. It is not wrong to be 90th out of 90, but it is criminal not to do something about it. Right behind that are large doses of open communication initiated from the district. The district’s website, www.pths209.org, is a great communication tool and information resource to use. That is why it was created.

The first fundamental priority is to constantly ask “What is the current level of student proficiency in our classrooms?” We must be able to integrate academics with workplace literacy, civic responsibility, and individual character development because they are essential elements in learning. Whatever conditions exist that retard that achievement have to be acted on. Emphasis on a school-wide work ethic needs to be set on maximum, goals need to be crystal clear and our focus on that condition must be relentless.

The second priority is an organizational function of time management. Being a large body, the entire district would benefit from target dates and calendared follow up on key matters. The BOE is considering an annual agenda in its policy review. This will help recognize the approach of benchmarks such as the superintendent’s evaluation, BOE self evaluation and other key targets. Here, we the BOE, can lead by example establishing baselines and standards.

The third fundamental priority is to balance the budget, but not at the expense of the Proviso students we serve.

Don’t touch programs that work or ones designed to improve the current system. Public education is an investment. The common obligation to these priorities is that they need to be done simultaneously and with care to create a balance that is sensitive to our human needs and homeopathic in practice.

The community can consistently ask for accountability and summary of actions from District 209 and not be limited to just controversial events like the ones we just experienced.

I heard on television a couple of nights ago that all forms of curiosity are acts of insubordination. Here’s an opportunity for all the community, the students, teachers, parents, school administrators, BOE, government, the private sector, and the faith sector to act together and commit to the process of being practicing stakeholders once again.

Please be encouraged to ask away with the expectations to be listened and answered to. These priorities warrant our curiosity simply because all our students are worth it.

Bob Cox, District 209 board member
Forest Park

Resignation questions

I attended District 209’s special board meeting when Dr. Fields’ “letter of resignation” was read by board President Chris Welch. This letter was in response to Chris Welch’s agenda item to terminate Dr. Fields. Apparently a deal was struck.

Of course, the reason indicated in the resignation letter (lack of communication) is totally implausible as a reason to terminate Dr. Fields’ employment contract. This begs the question as to the real reason. Is it because the board majority wants Dr. Fields out of the way so that they can continue their questionable decisions (patronage jobs and contracts) and misuse of our tax dollars at the expense of our children’s education? From my perspective (as a member of the advisory committee convened by Dr. Fields), Dr. Fields had initiated some much needed measurable goals that had promise of yielding an improved educational environment. Despite the fact that some of Dr. Fields’ ideas/methods were indeed questionable, I felt that he was on the right track and should have been allowed to work the “best practices” plan he had outlined, which included parent and community engagement.

Although Dr. Fields is now out of the district, he is no doubt still very much into our pockets. To ascertain how much, I plan to request, via FOIA, a copy of the separation agreement that stipulates the compensation that the taxpayers will pay him not to carry out his plan.

And, then, there’s the issue of the pending attorney general investigation.

With Robert Libka now in the leadership role, because of his lack of experience and because he is totally controlled by the board chair, I seriously doubt that he has the will or capability to successfully meet the needs of the district’s students and staff. Again, our students will suffer in this revolving door atmosphere. The board should immediately implement a national search to bring in a capable and untainted superintendent.

A local “oversight” committee will be pursuing this. All interested individuals are welcome to support this effort.

Barbara Cole
Maywood

Praise for Sydney

This letter is in response to “Giving others what she can” (Aug. 29). Way to go Sydney! You should be very proud of yourself … I know your parents are, and so is Sophie!

Heather Bosick
Sedona, Ariz.

Young donor

This letter is in response to the story, “Giving others what she can” (Aug. 29). It is such a joy to see someone with such compassion for others! You are a delight.

Lorie Ranker
Oak Park

Inspiring story

This letter is response to “Giving others what she can” (Aug. 29). Sydney, you are an angel of God. His many blessings will flow through you as long as your heart is true to him. Keep him close and continue to be an inspiration to many others. God bless!

Misti Faust,
finance manager West Suburban PADS
Maywood

Starship congrats

Congratulations to Paul McKenna and Henry Laskowski of Starship Restaurant and Catering! 1977 to 2007; 30 years! We’re glad to have you as part of Forest Park’s history. We loved being in the picture of the Aug. 29 Forest Park Review but really thought we’d see the shot of Paul McKenna and Henry Laskowski cutting the birthday cake. Can you print that picture so Paul doesn’t feel left out? Josh Adams did a great job on making the story fun to read. Henry and Paul help make Forest Park the community that it is. Congrats, you humans, on hanging in there!

Here’s to many more happy ($1.30) birthdays!

Michele Johnson and Cliff Killion
Forest Park

Historical search

St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on Hannah and Adams streets is looking for any ancestors of the founding families of the church. The 13 families are: Johann Schulz family, John Rufer family, Charles Kolley family, John Kreese family, Frank Neitzke family, Carl Kobernus family, H. Hinzenstern family, Wm. Michalsky family, Fred Schultz family, John Hacker family, Wm. Genrich family, J. Kramp family, W. Claussin family.

Also, the church is looking for information on the John Schulz family, which purchased the two lots that are the present site of the church.

We have submitted the paperwork to become a historical site and if accepted, we would like to have a small ceremony with any ancestors present. Any information can be sent to the church.

Judy Jilek, vice president St. Peter’s Church Council
Forest Park