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Proviso Probe

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A07, letters to editor Proviso school district race [D209]

Forest Park Review received enough letters to the editor that it put some in the paper and posted the rest online.

In the paper version Proviso First Party candidate Bob Cox had the following letter.
Proviso First

I want to thank the Forest Park Review editors for giving me their endorsement. I also appreciate the paper's call to the public to give the District 209 board of education election the "time of day."

Because the election process only allows sound bytes and monologues, it was unfortunate that no forum was really made available to all the candidates in the 209 BOE race.

To set the record straight, my colleagues Robin Foreman and Carla Johnson are neither bureaucrats nor politicians. Some of their qualities have gone unnoticed. Robin's experience with people and as a proven manager is valuable to the stabilization of the fragmented BOE. She will be a catalyst for remedying complacency. Carla Johnson understates her role as administrative assistant to Sen. Kimberly Lightford for the past eight years. Ask any CEO or senior executive how important their assistants truly are. She will be a conduit to the BOE in researching and monitoring state policies, and her "can do energy" is clearly an asset for the daunting tasks ahead of us.

The Proviso First Party is a team I'm proud to be on and one that will serve the entire Proviso community well. We are running because we are stakeholders in the Proviso community. We are a fresh start. I see nothing gained to align myself to anyone or anything but principles and common sense. This is common ground we the Proviso First candidates all share.

Online District 209 board member Charles Flowers, EdD, had the following letter published. He supports the Education Reformers slate.
Flowers calls for change

As a member of the board of education for Proviso Township high schools, I have been part of the minority along with Theresa Kelly and Gary Marine. We have been the minority that has questioned the decisions and actions of the board majority, led by Christopher Welch that has failed our students, teachers, schools and residents.

I endorse the slate that includes Ralph Harris, Kevin McDermott and Theresa Kelly. I appreciate that the Forest Park Review endorsed Harris and McDermott, two of the candidates needed to change the leadership of the school board. However, without electing the full slate, you will be subjecting students and taxpayers to more of the same from Christopher Welch and the board majority--an employment agency for their families and friends and continued failure of our students!

Without changing the leadership of the board of education; I know from first hand experience that it would be foolish to expect that Christopher Welch would change how he has and continues to micromanage District 209!

The Forest Park Review's criticism of Mrs. Kelly and the board minority is misleading and baseless! The newspaper seems to want Mrs. Kelly and the board minority to take responsibility for district problems that have been created by decisions driven by the board majority! Did it bother you that the current superintendent and the board majority refused to terminate the pay for play contract of $160,000 to Eugene Moore, recorder of deeds? He receives a monthly check of $15,800 as the insurance broker for the district at the expense of needed programs for under performing students and increased medical insurance premiums for employees of the District! Imagine, Mr. Moore is rewarded for services that are and have never been rendered to the district! Please forgive and excuse my outrage for wanting to use our tax dollars for students!

Christopher Welch and the superintendent (or CEO when Welch placed the unqualified and rubber stamp of Robert Libka in charge that led to an additional $9 million in deficit spending and failure to seek approval from the full board of education $10,000 to attend a graduate program to obtain the superintendent's endorsement at Western Illinois University, during work hours!) sets the agenda for board meetings. How about committee reports that are chaired by the board majority that are and have never been reported on to the full board or public. Recently, until the legal department of the Illinois State Board of Education intervened to uphold district policy that ensures that all board members in District 209 shall enjoy placing items on the agenda, the practice by the superintendent (Stanley Fields) and board president Christopher Welch has been to shut out input from the board minority! This practice supports your assertion that "the last six or seven months we can count on one hand the number of times that the word 'student' was used by an incumbent board member." Shame on the superintendent and Chris Welch for producing a board agenda focused on contracts and employment for friends and family!

It is indeed unfortunate that the actions of the board majority taints the full board. What's even more criminal to our students and taxpayers is that the Students First Party (Robin Foreman, Carla Johnson, and Bob Cox) are purporting that they intend to stop the patronage hiring and play for pay politics! These candidates are supported by the current board majority (Christopher Welch, Sue Henry, Dan Adams, and Shirley Madlock) that supports these practices! Yet you warn Bob Cox not to get to close to any of the incumbent board members! Mr. Cox has already associated and joined himself with the primary board member (Christopher Welch) that has led our students to the lowest PSAE test scores in the almost 100 year history of District 209! We can not afford to continue to have individuals make recommendations and decisions in the best interest of our students based on blind faith and personal interests! The reality is that Bob Cox is running with a slate that has a candidate (Robin Foreman) who is the aunt of Nikita Johnson-business manager for District 209 and Carla Johnson, the mother of Eugene Moore's grandson - get the picture! To add insult to injury, this group in their second glossy brochure mailer to Proviso Township residents is advocating "the board must initiate a district wide reading program in our grammar schools." Excuse me, but wouldn't that be an initiative that the feeder school boards of education in cooperation with the superintendent initiate? Have they forgotten that they are candidates for District 209?

Having an individual at the table from a specific community in no way guarantees that they will represent what is best for students. What's important is that who ever sits at the table regardless of the community that they represent, understands that all decisions that are made for students representing the 10 communities of District 209 are driven by the following question: How does it impact student achievement and learning?

The most essential step is to get the board to function properly by selecting a new president and board members that truly put students first!

The only way to get a new president of the board of education is to elect Ralph Harris, Kevin McDermott and Theresa Kelly. All the other candidates in the race have committed to voting for Christopher Welch to remain as the leader of the board of education ... this includes Bob Cox!

The question that rest with all the stakeholders involved in District 209 is can and do the students and taxpayers deserve two more years of Christopher Welch leadership? The answer is absolutely, NO!

That being said, voters would do well to show Bob Cox the door!

Charles A. Flowers, Ed.D
District 209 Board of Education member,
Suburban Cook County Regional Superintendent of Schools - Elect

There are also letters in support of the Education Reformers by Michael Brooks of Broadview and State Representative Karen Yarbrough.

And board member and candidate Theresa Kelly wrote:
Kelly for D209

While I was not endorsed by the Forest Park Review, I ask for the support of all voters who see the need to reform Proviso Township High Schools, District 209.

I am running with a slate of candidates under the banner "Education Reformers." The two candidates joining me on the slate are Kevin McDermott of Westchester and Ralph Harris of Bellwood, both excellent candidates and both are endorsed by the Forest Park Review.

I am running for re-election because I want to improve Proviso Township high schools by replacing the machine politics of school board President Chris Welch and his political boss (Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore) with fiscally responsible education strategies focused on students and their families.

Chris Welch has run Proviso Township high schools into the ground. Test scores are 90th of 90 high school districts in the Chicago area. The deficits have become untenable, even after Welch obtained a "back door" referendum to increase property taxes without the permission of the voters. Crony hiring and promotion is rampant and demoralizing to teachers and staff. A number of large contracts have been awarded to the politically connected, many of who gave large contributions to either Welch's school board race or his campaign for state representative. This is not acceptable.

There are seven seats on the board of education. Three are up for election on Tuesday, April 17.

To keep control of the school board, only one Welch supporter needs to win; to switch control of the school board all three candidates from the "Education Reformers" slate need to be elected. Do you want to wait two more years to begin the process of reforming your public high school district?

I'd like to respond to the Forest Park Review's criticisms of my service on the board of education. However, the criticisms were extremely vague and not based on factual information. I am frustrated the Forest Park Review failed to specify its reservations about my service.

The Forest Park Review has been a valuable partner in the process of improving Proviso Township High Schools. The coverage, analysis and columns in the Forest Park Review have been essential to explaining the issues facing the district. People read the Forest Park Review across Proviso Township for the coverage of District 209.

I ask all voters to support Ralph Harris, Kevin McDermott and me (Theresa Kelly), so we can join board member Charles Flowers. Give us a chance to show that Proviso Township High Schools can be better.

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1 Comments:

  • you seem desparate carl. you and karen met your match with forest park review and west suburban journal. but good luck.

    By Anonymous good luck but your wasting, at 3:21 PM, April 12, 2007  

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