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Proviso Probe

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July board meeting D209

Last night the Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education held its monthly (regular) meeting at Proviso West High School.

The agenda proposed cutting a number of support staff positions. Only one person was terminated when the superintendent withdrew the proposal.

Two attorneys (Myron Mackoff and __ Travis) who are representing Emanual "Chris" Welch in two civil matters (Odelson & Sterk v. Proviso Insider and Welch v. Nyberg) attended the board meeting and made the case in executive session that Welch being sued for defamation (O&S v. PI) was sufficiently intertwined with his duties as a member of the board of education that District 209 should pay his legal bills. Board member Theresa Kelly registered a concern to me that this presentation was not on the agenda distributed in advance.

In open session Welch floated the idea that since he didn't bill the district for defending himself against past ARDC complaints that this somehow makes it alright to bill the district for his legal defense in the case of O&S v. PI.

Kelly questioned hiring a PR firm for $8,000 for one month as a temporary measure until a contract can be written.

The Proviso West cafeteria was quite hot, maybe 10-20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. The board went into closed session (another location, presumably cooler) for close to three hours. One woman fainted while the board was in executive session and the paramedics were called.

Both Chuck Fieldman, of the Pioneer Press, and Josh Adams, of Forest Park Review, left before the board reconvened in open session. Before Fieldman left he suggested that the meetings be scheduled so that the July and August board meetings are at Proviso East and PMSA. At those locations the meetings are in rooms with air conditioning.

When I relayed this suggestion to Proviso West Principal Alexis Wallace she responded that she wanted to have people see how hot Proviso West is without air conditioning. Although, it seemed like most of the building was fine there's something that causes the heat to be higher in the cafeteria.

I raised the issue of paying deans hourly money on top of a salary with Wallace. She explained that since the deans were on 10-month contracts they got paid hourly for participating in the student registration process. I said that this made no sense. If registering students is part of their duties every year then it should be part of their contract. Wallace argued the deans were undercompensated because they didn't get certain perks and schools like Oak Park and River Forest High School pay more ($24,000 per year more). Wallace also used the argument that it's been that way since she arrived in the district over 20 years ago. Wallace's sister is one of the deans.

Board member Reatha "Sue" Henry is normally a reliable vote for the board majority, although she usually votes against terminations. When the minority had three votes Henry sometimes saved a person getting fired. Last night Henry abstained from the termination vote and the hiring of the public relations firm.

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  • IF the meetings were that hot, just imagine how how it is for the students and teachers during the warmer months! I appluad Wallace for wanting the public to know how conditions are within the school. Look at the board's repsonse to it. Let's just move the meetings during the summer months to a cooler place instead of fixing the problems or addressing them. Imagine what else they have to go without! have you ever tried concentrating on anything when you are sohot you are about to pass out? Impossible. I do however question Wallace's position on the paying of dean's. IF her reasoning is that other's schools pay more and she is trying to compensate with the pay, then what does she do for the teachers who are equally underpaid? Does she invite teachers to be a part of the registration process and earn that extra money? I would think the teachers would register students before the deans because of their knowledge of the courses and the student levels. Deans handle discipline, not academics. Is it also a conflict that her sister is the head dean and answers to Wallace? The board's conflicts (relatives, lovers, etc) seem to mirror the conflicts within the schools. When will that be addressed as one of the major issues with the schools
    ? As far as Welch and his legal bills, I think the district and the voters need to ask themselves how much has he done for the children and how much educational money is being used to support him and his mounting legal bills. Why do we have to pay for his ego? If people don't like you, that is just to bad! You are apublic ficgure and you accepted the position and the microscope that comes with it. If he does not want people to question his hiring/firing, lovers, family members, etc then he needs to open his own business and do those things. As long as you use taxpayers to foot your bills, you belong to the taxpayers. I also went to the meeting and was amazed to see the highly qulaified teachers that were hired for PMSA and how much they were paid. What message are we sending to the teachers and students at the other two schools? The money and the resources should be distributed evenly amongst all the schools. This almost appears to be modern day segregation within PTHS209. Remember seperate but equal? We all know that they were seperate but nowhere near equal!
    BTW Carl, what did you think of the new supt?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:49 PM, July 22, 2008  

  • In the future use a pseudonym. It gets confusing with more than one "anonymous" in a discussion.

    I was also struck by the woman who noted issues about driver's education.

    Is it true PMSA gets nicer cars than East and West?

    What possible justification is there for giving PMSA nice cars and giving less nice cars to the other schools?

    I haven't verified that "separate and unequal" exists between the driver's ed programs, but no one from the board or administration refuted the claims.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 5:14 PM, July 22, 2008  

  • Dave says: I taught t West and one year I brought a thermometer to school. It was 100 degrees in my classroom on the second floor! It really is too hot on some days for students to learn.
    As to the poor underpaid deans...EVERYONE is underpaid at Proviso. If you compare teachers' salaries to surrounding school districts, you will find a $10,000 to $20,000 difference. I read the board agenda. How laughable is it when you see a guy with a PHD making $54,000?
    PMSA will soon be exposed. The ACT scores will do it. I heard that Moyer (principal of PMSA) wanted to delay testing of his little darlings. Of course, he couldn't. The state mandates the date when the tests are given. Let us see what this 40 million dollar school produces. Bet me the scores are at or below 20. That's still several points below surrounding schools.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:03 AM, July 23, 2008  

  • I can't believe the NERVE of WELCH to bring his attorney's into the 209 board meeting to advocate for him and have the taxpayers pay for slanderous comments on his annonymous blog! Well, if Welch can avoid paying his fees,at least deny 209 from paying for the other 3 defendents.Emily Robinson and the 2 district 88 employees,have nothing to do with 209,why should we pay for their lawyers and settlements???

    By Anonymous welcher, at 6:08 AM, July 23, 2008  

  • While I understand the outrage of the heat in the classrooms, there would be plenty of outrage if the district spent money on installing air-conditioning for both schools (East is over 90 years old). There would be people screaming about the money being spent on this, that, or the other.

    IF they cared about the students, every room would have fans (not teacher-bought), there would be water bottles purchased for students (not just the one who could pay for them), and there would be early release days for ones with temperatures above 90, at least until October.

    It's kind of damned of you do, damned if you don't thinking, but that's the hole that has been dug. Nobody trusts anything anymore.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:22 AM, July 23, 2008  

  • Curious asks:

    WHy are there so many more people getting paid for registration at West than at East?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:24 AM, July 23, 2008  

  • I taught at PW for three years. The early months of the school year were unbearable. I tried daily to dress professionally and it became very strained with 28-30 teens sitting close together, often times after physical education, in a third floor classroom, in a brick building where the outside temp was already ninety. I think Mrs. Wallace's move was aggressive and important. It is just a matter of time before a student or adult in that building gets seriously injured from the heat exhaustion. I think A/C or a later start date would be a small price to pay in comparison to the medical bills of injured students or staff.
    The board meeting, the students and staff are there for 40 plus hours weekly with no relief in sight until mid to late October. Let us not forget the hellified stink from the landfill across the street. It's lovely to sit in a room where the air is stale and humid and be greeted with the wretched odor- which still remains.
    Maybe all three campuses could pile into PMSA!!!!

    By Anonymous Missing PW, at 9:58 AM, July 23, 2008  

  • Has anyone brought Welch's use of taxpayers' money for a personal lawsuit to the attention of the States Attorney?

    By Anonymous What a Crock, at 4:22 PM, July 23, 2008  

  • FYI........
    Why go to the States Attorney's office the office you need to go to is the FBI, agent Joseph Karmac
    @1-847-290-0525. Here is an agent waiting for more information on the person who pulls the strings (Gene Moore). He pullsstrings on Chris Welch, Sue Henry,and the rest of his montly crew. Now we hear that Karen Yarbrough has gone to Moore for jobs for the people supporting her for State Representative, how does anyone think Henderson Yarbrough (her husband & Mayor of Maywood) got his other job downtown and has a political job?. How the spider spins his web?
    Carl, I know how disappointed you must be in Karen Yarbrough. We still can say Maywood is #1 in Crime.

    Was a long time resident of Maywood, and glad I moved to Las Vegas, Neveda.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:01 PM, July 24, 2008  

  • I taught at west for a few years. It gets really hot in the entire school, except main office. It does get difficult to teach and to learn when its so hot.

    Hard to blame Wallace for the Deans getting hourly pay. If they are 10 months, they wont work for free. Dont forget, they already took the furlough last year. The Board of Education approves the hourly pay too. Proviso West is a larger school with more students. This is why they probably have more deans working registration.

    By Anonymous Former Pissed Off Teacher, at 7:23 PM, August 17, 2008  

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