news coverage

The Trib is also on the story of last night’s union meeting to decry the IEC contract:

District 211 teachers hit energy consortium.

HOFFMAN ESTATES — Angry over the decision by northwest suburban Township High School District 211 to purchase electricity from a statewide educational energy consortium without competitive bidding, teachers union representatives called on the school board Thursday to unplug the two-year contract.

“I want them to do what’s right for the taxpayers of this district and reverse their position on this energy commitment,” John Braglia, president of the District 211 teachers union, said before a school board meeting at Conant High School in Hoffman Estates.

Where it says “before a school board meeting” might be a little confusing–some people might think it means he said it at the school board meeting in front of the school board–whereas it was said at a press conference prior to the meeting.

The article goes on:

In May 2006 the district joined hundreds of districts statewide in the Illinois Energy Consortium, an 8-year-old non-profit company created by the Illinois Association of School Boards, the Illinois Association of School Business Officials and the Illinois Association of School Administrators to help schools get better rates for electricity and natural gas.

Allegedly, anyway.

The consortium has been criticized since it was revealed that about $4.5 million in fees unrelated to utility services was collected from school districts in the last three years. Concerned that most districts have hired the consortium without getting bids, real estate developer William Tarsitano sued District 211 alleging that the practice is illegal.

When you get right down to it, if they were so bent on helping school districts save money, why did they collect $4.5 million in fees? Wouldn’t they have wanted that money to stay with the districts? To go into the classrooms?


I missed the Board meeting. Were you there and are you willing to give me an insider’s view on it? Email me here.

The other big event yesterday was the press conference held by the District 211 teachers union to ask that District 211 rescind its contract with the Illinois Energy Consortium on the grounds that the contract is fiscally irresponsible and utilizes a no-bid business model.

Chad Brooks of the Daily Herald reports on that news conference in this morning’s paper in Union wants power contract unplugged.

Believing Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 is acting fiscally irresponsibly, the district’s teachers union, along with two school board candidates and a local legislator, demanded Thursday that the current energy contract be rescinded.

Union leader John Braglia is quoted in the article with this strong statement:

“This district has always had a long history of integrity, honor and commitment to the taxpayers and what we are seeing happening is a shift away from that commitment,” Braglia said. “That is very troubling to me.”

Superintendent Thornton gives his reasons for believing the contract is legal and Bill Tarsitano’s attorney Todd Rowden gives his reasons for believing it isn’t.

To my knowledge, this is the first time that the Daily Herald has said anything about the IEC lawsuit, first covered in the Chicago Tribune on March 5.

On the other hand, I received an interesting email yesterday from one of the non-incumbent candidates for District 211 school board. Editors from the Daily Herald met with all the candidates to determine who the Daily Herald would editorially endorse. This school board candidate reports that in her interview, she was asked whether she would vote to fire Roger Thornton.

Unless the Daily Herald automatically asks every single school board candidate in every single school board race if they’d vote to fire the superintendent in their District, that’s an intriquing question. But I think most readers of the Daily Herald would be surprised to know the editors are asking it. I plan to write the editors at the Daily Herald to see if I can get confirmation of this question from them.

Correction: A reporter from the Daily Herald writes to correct my mistaken claim that they haven’t been covering the District’s contract with the IEC. He says:

“We were the first paper to report on this last year when the contract was signed. We also wrote subsequent stories when Mr. Tarsitano filed his lawsuit, as well as when a judge ruled against the district’s motion to dismiss the case.”

My apologies for the significant error.

Lennie of Education Matters sent an open records request to his school districts 46 and 127 and learned that, like District 211, his school districts also did not go through a competitive bid process before signing contracts with the Illinois Energy Consortium.

Lennie has now created a website for state-wide news about the IEC and no-bid contracts. He just put it up and I can see that it will grow.

Thank you, Lennie!

As Diane Rado’s article in the March 5 Chicago Tribune also showed, many school districts across the state are caught up in this mess.

Most Dist. 211 candidates favor current pact.

Q&A: Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211.