LETTERS TO THE EDITOR – APRIL, 2013

| April 2, 2013

Dear Editor,

I believe I’d rather vote for candidates whose parties’ fondness for spending bundles of wasted money on explosions of eye-sore campaign lawn signs did not exist.  Thank you.

Marge Henderson
Harwood Heights

Dear Editor,

I wanted to take a few minutes to respond to outright lies and innuendo that have been printed recently concerning the School District 81 School Board, District Administration and myself personally.

First I would like to address the fact that this is a time where social media allows people not only to spread lies, but also allows that person to remain anonymous and almost 100% untraceable.  But no one is actually 100% untraceable today.  People may feel that vile name-calling is safe behind a computer screen because no one will know who is behind it.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, that is not always the case.  Today’s technology is not as anonymous as it seems.  IP addresses can be traced, page scrubbing can be done, email registrations for comments can be traced, and so on.  Understanding the gutter mentality that sparks anonymous blog postings and cruel comments allows most people to immediately recognize that 99% of all written on an anonymous blog is trash.  A person who can only express their ugly opinions and lies because they think they are anonymous is not a person who can be trusted on any level, let alone any level of government.   Any person who writes such vile things about someone “anonymously,” yet will approach that same person with friendship and a ‘kind’ word is not to be trusted in any case, ever.   The name-calling the bloggers resort to is childish and often times ridiculous.  Although those with a cruel sense of humor may find the posts entertaining at times, there are people who have been hurt by this type of behavior but have no way to defend themselves.  This type of behavior does not limit itself to the written word. Anonymous phone calls along the same vein have also been placed to harass individuals who serve School District 81.

Second, I would like to address the lies that have been printed and repeated, on numerous occasions, concerning the School District 81 Board of Education actions.  These are political times, and lies and innuendo will run rampant.  People who should be trusted are lying about current activities within District 81, and the lies now demand a public response.

  1. The School District 81 administration has been very diligent in curbing spending when possible.  The administration came in 4% under budget for the last fiscal year due to intelligent spending and vigilance in cost control.  The District is on good financial standing and is not supporting another referendum.  This is a LIE being told by one of the people who should know, as he sits on the Board. The District has no need to even broach the topic of another referendum.  He knows that the financial status of our district is sound and one of the few in the state that is so.
  2. This same board member has stated that he is being lied to and needs to FOIA all requests.  All FOIA request are reviewed by an attorney so that there is not any possibility of non-compliance, which can be cause for concern.  Please understand that there has NEVER been a time where a board member would need to FOIA himself, unless it is to bring negative attention to himself, as in this case.  Although there has been innuendo to suggest that a FOIA is the only way to get information,  there has NEVER been an incident of items not supplied as requested to Mr.  Stachura.   I understand that as career politicians, as he and his wife have been, this is probably just a tactic for publicity.  As it seems ‘any publicity is good publicity’.
  3. Mr. Stachura has also repeatedly suggested that the District paid for the holiday party this past December. Mr. Stachura was present at the public board meeting when the discussion took place.  The holiday party was not paid for with any funds from District 81.  Nothing more can be said.
  4. The continued education of our teachers is the most beneficial thing we have in our district.  The teachers and administrators are constantly learning and educating themselves for the benefit of our children and our community.  Our community is strong, in no small part, due to our strong school system.  Mr. Stachura insinuates that this is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Again I need to remind him that he has been present at the meetings and KNOWS that this is a lie.
  5. Mr. Stachura has represented that the School District Board approves district-owned vehicles for personal use. This is false.  Again, having been present at the meeting where this was discussed, it amazes me that it is repeated and printed.  Following employees around with a camera and then entitling the photos anything he wants on an “anonymous” blog does not make the statement true.  There is one vehicle that is not left on the grounds at night.  This is required for 24/7 availability to ensure our schools have coverage when needed.  I do not believe that there was ever a picture posted on the blog of our snow removal during a winter storm a few years ago, or our water issues being taken care of during the early morning hours last year.  I do not believe that Mr. Stachura was present with camera in hand to print those pictures.  Pity, they would have made good postings.
  6. The response to the blogger’s post about privatization of School District 81’s legal services, bus services, and food services is simple to respond to: LIES.  I will ask each board member to remind me at which board meeting this conversation took place.  It appears that although printed, yet again, we have a lie.
  7. Each School District 81 board member has signed a Board Member Ethics statement.  One of the points in that statement is that we will protect the privacy of our students and employees.  To date there have been postings of photos revealing employees’ personal home addresses, links containing personal information and documents, and threatening letters emailed to union personnel without regard to their privacy or their right to privacy.  Unfortunately, it appears that when it comes to getting what one wants in this case, there is no distinction between right and wrong, and no line is too far to cross.
  8. Back to name-calling. REALLY.  How old are you?  Any name calling of our administrators is just ridiculous.  Our administrators are thoughtful, caring, hardworking, intelligent and well educated individuals.  Our teachers are entrusted with our most precious resource, our future.  One of our village’s greatest assets is our diversity.  Our administrators and teachers are meeting and exceeding expectations when educating all of our children.  These people do not deserve to be called names, lied about and bullied for any reason.

I understand that people will do many things to be elected to a position that they believe will help them advance to higher positions, or advance their family’s political aspirations as in possibly, the village clerk position, but this is not the place to do it.   As board members most of us understand that we have made an important commitment, and that we need to attend all board meetings, not just 80% of them.  We need to attend all functions of our schools, not just those occurring during election season.  The majority of the Board understands this, and does not use our positions for political gain.

Our children deserve to have people on the school board who want to support them in their pursuit of a full, well-developed education.  The strong support our children receive now will benefit them in high school and beyond.  District 81 has communicated with our public a true picture of our schools. In the Annual Report the Community published in December of 2012, we shared that 84% percent of our students met or exceeded ISAT standards in the All category, and that 44% of students from the Class of 2017 placed into Honors Math at Leyden High School.  The community also needs to know that District 81 continues to receive the highest financial rating possible from the Illinois State Board of Education.  This is not the mark of an organization that needs an overhaul from within. It is a mark of distinction.  Most District 81 board members see what great things are happening in our schools and with our children, and we are proud.  Most of us are able to respond to the needs of our children and our residents, and we can do it with integrity and not lies and name-calling.

Thank you

MaryAnn Desecki

School District 81 – President

 

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March 26, 2013

Dear Editor:

We are but a few short days away from a very important local election, both for the Village of Schiller Park Trustees, Clerk and Mayor and the District 81 School Board.  I can’t emphasize more how important your votes are in both of these elections.

If you haven’t made up your mind yet, please consider the following facts:

  • Property taxes in this community have been raised to all-time high levels due to the decisions made by the current  School Board
  • The District Administration NOT the TEACHERS—has used the Board majority to push through exorbitant budgets, costly resolutions, improper expenditures, and both mid-contract raises and contract extensions for themselves (The recent acquisition of Ed. D. credentials to the same Administrative Team cost you—the taxpayers—in excess of $75K in tuition costs and even more in annual stipend payments)
  • The Mayor of Schiller Park has used her power and money to put together another ticket of candidates that will perpetuate the rubber-stamp approval of the current members.   This will result in guaranteed increases in tax bills with no guaranteed increases in student progress

The platform proposed by the candidates running with me includes the following commitments to the community:

  1. We will lower taxes by requiring our highly paid Administrative Team to present an annual budget that cuts unnecessary costs while maintaining a quality educational experience for all of the students.  It remains the job of the Administration to carry out the Board’s goals.

When our candidates are on the Board, the vision and direction of the District will be determined by our community, not administrators who live in upscale communities. 

2.       We will provide increased transparency in governance.  This will be evidenced by including Board and community members on standing committees, providing video-taped coverage of the Board meetings that will be Internet-accessible, and developing a more user-friendly website for information.

The current Board President does not encourage or initiate discussion on any matters brought up for vote.  She told another Board member “That’s not how we roll here.”  She selected the same two Board members to serve on the Litigation Committee and the Contract Negotiation Committee to the exclusion of other members (these 2 individuals were consequently responsible for contracts that included no input from the rest of the Board—millions of dollars of expense with the expectation of ‘rubber stamp approval.’)

I am not at all ashamed of voting “NO” on the contract as there was no input solicited from those not on the Committee.  Contrary to the propaganda put out by our opponents who believe we voted “NO” to teacher compensation, we voted “NO” based on the lack of representation from the entire Board.   When our candidates are on the Board, we will be discussing until we are satisfied with the decision.

  1. We will encourage and expect all Board members to engage in professional development through the Illinois Association of Schools Board’s training workshops and classes.  This has been an under-used resource by the current Board, but it is extremely important so that Board members learn how to approach their role.  It’s not the ‘system’ that’s broken, it’s the people in the positions!

Once the new Board is seated, we will begin proper mentoringto ensure that members understand policies and procedures of the District as opposed to the current plan of “learn it as you go.”  We will review policies with all members and insist that they be followed rather than ignored as some of them are now.  When our candidates are on the Board, the education of the Board members will be a priority in order to enable them to provide the right oversight to the District.

  1. We will insist that all visitors to the Board meetings be treated with courtesy and respect.  There have been far too many instances of bullying coming from the Board table directed at visitors and minority Board members.  If the adults in charge of the education of our children think bullying and sarcasm are okay as long as it’s between adults, IT’S NOT!

A recent event had an Administrator suggest that a concerned mother “move if you don’t like it…”  I find this response to a problem inappropriate, discourteous, and arrogant.  When our candidates are on the Board, thoughtful decisions will be made that are based on the Illinois School Code, District 81 Board Policy and common sense.

A few other thoughts that are worth sharing:

  • As a military veteran, I vowed to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States of America which guarantees “the First Amendment right of free speech.”  When elected, however, I would respectfully ask the faculty to “Keep politics out of the classroom.”  You are professionals hired to teach children, not to push candidates in this election.  Your contract is already a done deal, and there’s no referendum that requires your attention.  At some point residents may also ask why the District server was used during the referendum that resulted in $29 000 000 of debt to the taxpayers…  Why are you involved in local politics?
  • Similarly, I absolutely do not condone the ‘cross-over’ that exists between the Village Board and the School Board.  These should be two separate and distinct taxing bodies, not ‘sisters’; when our candidates are elected it will dilute the power of the Mayor to management of her constituents’ needs through the Village, not the Village and the Schools!  I understand that one ticket in the Mayoral race favors this view and the other would expect ‘business as usual.’  Let’s be responsible for our own area, and not ‘bleed over’ into another.
  • A recent event occurred involving the use of District vehicles.  I didn’t feel that it was appropriate for an employee to use a school bus to do her weekly grocery shopping.  Instead of reprimanding the employee, the Board President and Administration criticized me for making this public—and then demanded that I apologize to the employee.  I believe it is within my rights and responsibility to ask the Administration to limit the liability to the District by enforcing guidelines for proper use of equipment.

Neither do I think it necessary for the Supervisor of building maintenance and another employee to have full use of two District trucks 24/7!  If there is justification based on best practice or prior incidents, I would readily reconsider.  However, for now I agree with another resident who strongly objected to this situation and was shut down during the February Board meeting.

  • I have been criticized for ‘spending unnecessary money on FOIAs’ (information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act).  As I stated in a previous Letter to the Editor, the former Superintendent tried to push through another costly venture and couldn’t produce the paperwork that she claimed she had for grant funding.  Her comment to me was “I don’t have to show you anything!”  Not true, Former-Superintendent-with-an-outrageous-pension-voted-on-and-approved-by-her-friends-on-the-Board!  From that point on, when actions by the Administration seemed questionable, I exercised my right as a citizen to obtain the information with a lesser risk of falsification/stonewalling taking place.  Some of the information I obtained is under scrutiny now by outside authorities.
  • I was attacked by majority Board members early on in my tenure on the Board for failing to approve the hiring of the current Superintendent.  I simply objected to the ‘process’ of limiting the search to one person—the one mentored by the former Superintendent whose leadership style I didn’t find wholesome or good for the children.  My concerns have been supported by her history of hirings, appointments, and litigation costs.  She may want to do a good job, but she’s a rookie…rookie’s should not have unlimited spending every month on a credit card with the education of the most vulnerable students at risk…
  • I have also had to defend myself to assaults on my motivation for running again for this position.  There is no motivation except for the fact that I believe I bring a perspective of being a long-time resident—not a “career politician” (Hello Mr. and Mrs. D!)—who values children and public education and has the courage and discipline to cut a budget when money is tight.  May I remind the husband and wife who occupy 2 seats on the Village and School Boards:  I am not being paid for this position (unlike Mr. D who continues to be paid thousands of dollars per year for his “yes” votes and he has the worst record of attendance at the village board meetings! Does he decline to take a check when he fails to appear at board meetings??) and  have had to reschedule or forego pay at my employment due to attendance at School Board meetings.  I am willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the community and especially the children of the community—but please don’t attack me for my attendance record!
  • Finally, THE BLOGFor those of you who do not know about this, there is a blog called schillerparkblog.com.  I am not the author of this website, although the District spent hundreds of dollars a few years ago (In this covert CIA type operation) to unsuccessfully try to discern the identity (they were expecting it to be me!) of the person who hosts this blog.

The comments that have been posted on the blog go back a few years and point out the failings and successes of both the School Board and the Board of Trustees for the Village of Schiller Park.  If you know anything about me, you would know that I am “computer-challenged” and haven’t the slightest idea of how to run a blog! Whoever does run the blog, however, has been actively promoting the ideas of transparency in governance, anti-bullying, and adherence to policies.

For many in the community, this is a forum for them to vent their frustrations with the Village and the School District.  Some try to reason with the community at large.  Others are crass and vulgar.  I feel the pain, especially of residents who have attended School Board meetings with a question for the Board.  Response:   “Thanks…we’ll get back to you.”  Some have been waiting for an answer to their single question since September, 2012!

In closing, I hope I’ve cleared up some of the misconceptions that are being circulated by the entrenched bureaucrats as well as what we stand for.   Please vote for the children—the taxpayers—and for those who will represent you the best.  But most of all—PLEASE VOTE!

Respectfully,

David C. Stachura

Schiller Park Board of Education Member, D81

MSgt. (Ret.), U. S. Air Force

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Letter to the Editor:

Well my friends as you know we have another election just around the corner. By now you have had several people knock on your doors, interrupted your dinner or ball game or you’ve had to get up from the couch or recliner and answer your door. Your door, mailbox, railing and yards are filed with the usual array of literature, your phone is ringing off the hook and you’ve been asked to donate money or buy expensive fundraiser ticket. With the amount of money spent on elections we could stop world hunger. Well I say no more. There is a reason why they put a maximum amount on dollars raised for campaigns to $3,000.00 before you have to set up a committee and fill out all that tedious paper work. It’s to discourage people from spending too much on elections. I’m running for Village Clerk and I’m having a simple Charitable Political fundraiser. Simply come to Legend’s Bar at 4200 River Road  April 5, 2013 after 6:00pm and meet me. Buy a beverage, an appetizer or maybe have dinner. Or you could get a Friday night  pizza to go. A portion of the evening profits will pay for my one and only piece of literature that will advertised this event and the rest will be donated to the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago and The Autism Society of Illinois.  All are welcome including all my fellow candidates running for office or anyone interested in donating to these charities. Elections are not life and death. I believe in the political process and everyone has a right to run for office and we as citizens have a right to vote for whom ever we think will do the best job. Exercise your right to vote. If you’re happy with the way things are then keep it. If not get rid of it and move on. Unfortunately we can’t all win so even if I don’t win at least I will have done something for the good of mankind. My hope is that others will do something similar in the future elections. We need to go back to the way it was when people met those running for office at picnics, parades, fests and town hall meetings or maybe at the grocery stores. We need to have open forums and invite all the candidates the way the PTA, League of Women Voters and other such organizations have done in the past. And let’s not forget the technology we have today. We put a lot of information about ourselves on our computers and it cost nothing.

God Bless America !!!

Catherine A. Stachura

Schiller Park Resident

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Letter to the Editor

Did anyone else notice the 4 separate instances in the last print edition that mentioned something negative about the current Mayor of Schiller Park (Anna Montana)? In the Open Forum section alone, out of the 12 submissions that were printed, 3 contained negative commentary regarding Montana (who is also the incumbent Mayoral candidate for the April 9th election). In addition, out of the 4 negative submissions that mentioned Montana in the last print edition, only one was signed with a name (Mr. Gary Austin). The other 3 were unsigned.

Readers commonly turn to newspapers for unbiased, factual information. The goal of every journalist and every newspaper should undoubtedly be to preserve objectivity. The entire Open Forum section seemed to be a biased piece printed primarily for people who already agree with the Editor-In-Chief of the People & Places newspaper (who coincidentally is an opposing candidate to Montana in the Schiller Park Mayoral Election). Does anyone else find the timing of these negative submissions a bit ironic? With the Mayoral Election looming, these submissions seem to all come in at the appropriate time. Whether or not this is coincidental or was simply an overlook, readers must wonder the intentions, judgment, and character of the Editor-In-Chief of the People & Places newspaper (and potential future Mayor of Schiller Park).

Signed,

Lucine Sheridan

Schiller Park Resident

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Dear Editor,

I just wanted to let you know that the ad I’ve placed in People & Places has worked for my business.  I would like to let other local small businesses know, that I have received work directly from this ad.

Tod Schrader
Schrader Painting

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On Open Letter to District 81 Employees:

It’s clear to me that many of you have been deceived into thinking that I am the “enemy” of the teachers of D81. Nothing could be further from the truth! My ongoing battles at school board meetings are with long-term- yet uninformed- board members who have not taken the reality of the Schiller Park/Franklin Park community into consideration when casting their votes. I also strenuously object to many of the financial practices of the district, as I believe them to be inappropriate, non-transparent and unfair to the taxpayers (and to you!). Few, if any of you, know that the reason I resort to the Freedom of information Act to obtain documents is because people within the District have not been truthful, honest, and above-board when I simply “asked” for information in the past. Few, if any of you, also would not know (or perhaps choose not to remember) that the last time the Union went on strike-l WALKED THE PICKET LINE WITH YOU lN SOIIDARITY! I supported your dreams then of what you enjoy now (this was at the time my wife Catherine served on the Board—perilous times then as now!).

So before you start carving out personal time to attend meetings called by your Union leadership, practice your talking points at the Mayor’s headquarters, and get your assignments for canvassing the neighborhoods, please consider the following:

1. The Union leadership may feel it a waste of time to interview me, David C. Stachura, when considering

endorsements, but there are more individuals running than the 4 candidates they have endorsed with

“your recommendation.” ls this fair? Shouldn’t all of the candidates have been given an equal

opportunity to meet with the Union representatives before an endorsement was issued? ls this how

you would teach the children about the democratic process?

2. I would also question why any non-resident staff would consider working a political campaign in this

community. There is no referendum on the ballot that concerns D81; there is only a question of who

will represent the taxpayers. I have adamantly opposed the expenditures that benefitted a few at the

expense of the community (e.g., mid-contract raises to administrators, no-bid contracts, liability

concerns, etc.). Ask yourself this question: Would you be so trusting of such actions if they occurred in

your community/school district?

3. Another aspect that you may be unaware of is that I believe in doing my homework. I have attended

several School Board meetings outside of the District, I have taken classes and participated in

conferences through the Illinois Association of School Boards, I continue to read everything I can that

will help me become a better Board member, and I have numerous contacts in a wide variety of fields in

government, education, the military, and politics. The conclusion that these experiences lead me to is

that we are blessed to have you as teachers in the District, but that certain practices involving

transparency and financial prudence need attention.

I urge you to consider the following: Who is encouraging you to work during this election? The SPEA

leadership? The District Administration? The Village politicians? All of them?

Will you benefit directly from the outcome if the “endorsed” candidates are successful? (Nope)

Will your situation change if the “unendorsed” candidates win? (Nope)

Will the children be affected by whoever is on the School Board? (Nope)

So, if you and the children are not the ones benefitting………who will?

Respectfully yours,

David C. Stachura
District 81 School Board Member

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Category: Letters to the Editor, Opinions, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Barbara is the publisher of People and Places Newspaper which she started in August of 2011. A lifelong resident of Schiller Park, she always felt it important that residents needed to be kept informed about their communities. Since newspaper coverage for Schiller Park stopped about twenty years ago, she made it a goal to bring a newspaper back to the area. She tries to include all of Leyden Township in her reporting and wants to keep true with the mission of the paper to "inform, educate and entertain."

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