citizen journalism

At the new website devoted to keeping an eye on the Illinois Energy Consortium and its no-bid business model, please read the FAQs.

Is this what we want in District 211?

District 211 has paid and is continuing to pay an expensive legal firm to defend its “right” to spend your money on electricty and natural gas without getting competitive bids. You can see the fruits of that legal expenditure here, along with the smashing replies of the plaintiff.

What on God’s green earth could the school board have been thinking?

Finally, I invite you to absorb the eloquent brief filed by Tarsitano last week in response to the legal brief (the one you paid for) of District 211.

The opening paragraph:

This is a case about no-bid vendor contracts. These vendor contracts involve an expenditure of at least $9.5 million of taxpayer funds. They contain no prices, pricing methodology or price escalation protection. These vendor contracts literally obligate the defendant school district to pay whatever amount the vendor in its sole discretion decides to charge. Tarsitano requests a declaration that the District’s no-bid vendor contracts are unlawful as having not been publicly bid under the School Code. The District’s response is to ask this Court to create and extend statutory protection from competition for one of its vendors.

Yes, we live in a school district where your school board and your school board superintendent are using your tax dollars to pay attorneys to argue a case before a judge which, if they win, will mean that your school board will be able to buy electricity and natural gas without having to get competitive bids.

Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote.


Lots of email this morning…

Here’s a first-person account of last Thursday’s District 211 school board meeting sent to me by Claudia Bailey, one of the candidates for District 211 school board.

She writes:

The April 12th Board meeting began with an awards ceremony; then the students and their parents immediately left. So the audience went from 200 people to a few dozen people for the actual board meeting. After speakers and as the night progressed, maybe 10 people remained in the audience, before the board broke for closed session.

There were certain things that happened at the board meeting that left a big impression on me. First, where was Martha? Sixteen years on the 211 board, and she was not at her last board meeting. At the end, I guess you really don’t care what happens at 211.

Secondly, the district lawyer; did she really come freely or was she asked to come? She expressed herself in a deadpan way, and she immediately left when the speeches were through. Not a great performance.

Thirdly, Dr. Thornton, when you are at the table with the school board, you are working. You do not grandstand during a forum that is meant for citizens to speak to the board. There was not a huge crowd to listen to you. If you want a crowd maybe you should have another referendum, people came then.

My last impression was not a good one. There were two department chairs that attacked everything the teacher’s union said. According to the male department chair, everything about class sizes was fine, and so on and so forth. But why did they look more like members of a funeral procession, then part of a megawatt school district? There were no feelings in the comments or nice/happy expressions from the female department chair. I’m sorry.

Thank you, Claudia!

I asked for input on any campaign activity you all had run into and lo and behold, I got an email this morning with a fairly complete report on the Quinn-Varnek-Neal campaign signs being taken down, apparently in an organized fashion, over the weekend.

This link is to a first-hand report in words and pictures from someone who must be close to the Quinn-Varnek-Neal campaign, but I don’t know who wrote it.

If you wrote it and you’re reading this, and you don’t want it posted, email me and I’ll take it down.

The Carnival of Education is a weekly collection of the best blog posts from around the education-oriented blogosphere. This week’s Carnival of Education is here.

For parents and teachers of high school-aged students, one of the interesting links in the Carnival was about a study mapping sexual and romantic relationships in one public high school in Ohio.

Here’s the original link.

Please note the correction at the end of this blog entry.

Another question from a reader:

Do you know, or perhaps some of your readers may know, if there are solid primers available describing how school financing really works in Illinois.? The rules, the laws, how tax caps come into play, how a school district budgeting process is supposed to work, disclosure of how well past budgets were adhered to, where does local control stop and start, etc.

Great question. Anyone have any recommendations?

District 211 school board member Bill Lloyd has an excellent, thoughtful post on measuring student achievement.

This type of post–and Bill’s other posts at his new blog–set a benchmark for open communication between a board member and the stakeholders of District 211. It fosters sharing and dialogue.

Speaking of which, we’re on day 6 of the six other school board members maintaining radio silence about these questions.

What are they trying to hide?

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