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Board Approves Cutting 22 D161 Teachers; Raises Club, Band and Sports Fees

Because of decreasing enrollment, the Summit Hill school district board reduced its workforce, honorably dismissing teachers. The board also raised fees for clubs, band and sports at Wednesday's meeting to help with the district's bottom line.

CORRECTION: An early version of this story listed the wrong fee amount for clubs. It has been changed to the correct amount, $30.

For the first time in its history, the board of education approved the honorable dismissal of 22 teachers at its Wednesday meeting as part of an overall staff reduction in the district.

The dismissals come as the district's student enrollment is projected to decrease and the board needs to cut more than $3 million from the D161 budget over the next three years. No tenured teachers were let go by the district, Supt. Barb Rains said, adding that a list of eliminated teachers would not be released in accordance with board policy.

Rains said she would provide Patch with a full list of teachers retained by the district some time Thursday.

Although the teacher cuts were approved unanimously, board member Sean William Doyle voted against the motions for non-renewal and reclassification of staff members. After the meeting, Doyle said because it was a personnel matter and the decision was discussed in closed session, he couldn't identify the staffers involed, but he said he objected to the reasoning behind the decision.

Rains also would not confirm the identity of the staffers.

Along with cutting teachers, the board also approved fee increases for clubs, sports and band. Club fees were raised to $30 per year, and sports fees were increased to $50 per year, and band was increased to $200 per year for the first child and $100 for the each additional child.

Check back later Thursday and Friday for continuing updates and read the transcript of the meeting's live blog for more details of what happened at Wednesday's board meeting.

Tracy April 03, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Thanks Are - no, saw no email here. I guess I don't understand, how does one become prinicpal or asst principal? There isn't a hiring process? Pople can step down or raise their hand and say, oh, I'll do that... How does anyone 'outside' ever get in this district? And yes, MD kids around me, who had once gone to Rogus, were not to happy to hear that they would be under Ruffalo again. And yes Sam - what happens to Hudziak? Who exactly is mapping all of this out anymore anyway? Rains? The Board? I seriously don't get how this is working now. Why all the shifting to begin with? Did we need to lose Lind? Do we know the grounds for that reclassification yet? Klein could have easily just slipped over to HW - a school w/out a prinicipal, a principal without a school - seems simple enough. This gets stranger every day.
Tracy April 03, 2012 at 02:29 PM
And wait a min... Martin's salary... he's stepping down, so I am assuming that is less pay. He is accepting less pay? Or no, and we'll be hiring a new asst sup, at the higher pay scale. Has a list been issued of the teachers going? I thought Joe was going to have that, and I assumed it would be posted in the Patch, or was that in an email I didn't get too? ANd yes, I have been following here, just didn't want to ask earlier when all the craziness was going on in the comments above, but I sincerely do have questions I'd like to know about - this principal situation. I still want to see the money bottom line being saved on MD closing and 22 teachers going (and is it me, wasn't that stated in the model of the closing of MD, that it would be only 9 teachers... help me out here)
A Concerned Parent April 03, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I heard that Santa Claus is going to give up his job at the North Pole to be principal at the Jr. High and the Tooth Fairy is going to be the assistant principal at HW. My kids are soooooooo excited!
Tracy April 03, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Is it sad that all of a sudden I thought wait a minute, there's a leprechaun out there that has to be friends with one of the board members though... Ok, obviously then, I can't be the only one wondering how this process is working. I really should say now, maybe I should be principal. Nice hours, close to home, oh wait, I mean asst sup... that will be the next fill in position available it sounds like. How long has Martin been asst sup?
Rose C April 03, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Stop! Get some facts before you post! Mr. Martin isn't going anywhere - why on earth would he agree to step down? Mr. Smalter is a teacher at SHJH - that's it! Mrs. Hudziak is still the vice principal at SHJH. Ruffalo is going to HW. Isdonas is going to Square & Carey & Klein are headed to DJR. The board votes on retaining/hiring employees - it is not their job to decide where to place them. That is the role of the superintendent. Because it is a personnel matter Mrs. Rains may have discussed it in closed session but that is pure speculation unless you are a member of the board. @ Tracy - as far as moving Mrs. Klein to HW, she may not be certified to be a middle school principal or and I'm just speculating, or she could have said 'thanks but no thanks', you should call & ask her. In regards to the teachers that were let go, Joe did say he would only receive the list of teachers that are staying. There are privacy rules to follow. Which is also why the reclassification is under wraps too. As for the 22 vs 9, we were told in a couple of board meetings & the workshop, positions would be streamlined. I hate to see teachers let go, but we knew sacrifices would be made at every building.
Rose C April 03, 2012 at 03:13 PM
@Are you kidding - who are you to say things should be handled differently? You are obviously lacking facts throughout your posts, I have a feeling this is just another instance where you didn't check YOUR facts. As for morale in the buildings - I'd check your sources. I have heard the opposite. And I have heard that the Mary Drew families moving to DJR are thrilled Klein will be moving with them. I'm guessing you are in that 10% that they say will never be happy no matter what happens.
sam April 03, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I have a question maybe someone could answer a little off the above subject. How did Mary Drew School qualify as an award winning school? What award did it win? I know that when Mary Drew was principal at Hilda Walker School, she won the Blue Ribbon Award for Hilda Walker School. I believe that was in 2001. Just curious.
A Concerned Parent April 03, 2012 at 03:25 PM
There is an email going out on Wednesday about all the principal changes if you guys can wait. At least then you will know what is rumor and what is fact. Until then, why don't we all just take a deep breath and relax. Doesn't matter who is going where as long as our kids continue to receive an outstanding education. @Rose C. -- thank you for being the voice of reason on this comment board.
Tracy April 03, 2012 at 04:02 PM
See, this is why I didn't ask questions earlier, everyone, please calm down. I asked why my kid is hearing things from teachers, that is a concern for all here. All, stop claiming what is a fact or not, cause who knows until it happens. Maybe a lot of things here are being questioned, but it sounds like many are yelling through their tone of writing. Unless anyone here is Rains or the Board, it's all hearsay isn't it? Fact is, very few here know the facts, they are just trying to piece together what looks like what might be happening. The night of the Wendy's MD fund raising, I did ask Klein 'I have to ask, cause I don't want to be an advocate to something you don't want, but it seems to make sense, are you going to go to HW if you can?' She replied 'I don't know if I will be going there or anywhere, I just know MD is closed, but I told Mrs. Rains I would go to HW, and that I am not ready to retire, really any of the schools, except SHJH.' Glad she wants to stay with D161. Now if she had a choice or was simply told you're going to Rogus, I don't know. What I do know is that my child, and the neighborhood children were upset that Mrs. Meyers is not tenured, so she's gone, and that Ruffalo is going to HW. Which made me ask them 'How do you know this?' And they replied a teacher told them, so I said 'Well, don't believe everything you're hearing right now, and not to worry about any of that, just go play.' Maybe the only people we can trust in right now is the children.
Tracy April 03, 2012 at 04:10 PM
The Summit Hill page explains the history of awards. It's consistency over years of meeting or exceeding Illinois Learning Standards. http://www.summithill.org/
Tracy April 03, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I will gladly wait for the email. Glad to hear something is coming. I disagree that it doesn't matter though. Not in the sense of the children, the kids need / will receive outstanding education. It will be an issue in the lack of ethics feel happening, cause there is one out there. Some things just wont 'look' good if some of these rumors are in fact true, don't you think? But until we see what happens, who knows. I just think some things, if they happen, (and no, I'm not spelling it out, enough people have) will not look good, but only add to the sneaky feel the board has left open in our community. I fear all he## could let loose possibly, and hope not, this community really needs to work together. There are some things that appear to be a conflict of interest to some, so let's hope the communication to explain the decisions is in the email.
Tracy April 03, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I have a student at MD and one at SHJH, the morale, according to them, is down amongst the kids. It has to do with how THEIR world is being affected, how will they go to clubs without activity buses if their parents work. How could their favorite teacher go? Why is a principal going to be a teacher now? My teacher is not tenured, but she's the best, why are they firing her mom? That's a few examples of what my kids and their friends have been asking. The kids are worried about what is happening, each have questions daily for me, that I can't answer. They are coming home with more information than parents are receiving. There are other children from MD that aren't going to Rogus. There are MD and FS 4th graders and parents who arn't thrilled to see Ruffalo going to HW. And, there are some who are thrilled. There is no right or wrong in feelings. Rose, please keep in mind, your opinions and observations are not all facts either. People are just voicing their thoughts and concerns. Please, when a parent states their child isn't happy, respect that as much as you do hearing a parent say their child is. I like hearing what you have to share, but we don't fit in a % when it comes to feelings. My kids have a right to question things and feel disappointment in what's happening. I have a right to ask why are children are hearing things through teachers. It bothers me that a teacher at each school has told each of my children that they lost their job, not very professional.
taxpayer April 03, 2012 at 05:18 PM
@ Tracy, I'm sorry to hear your kids are being affected by adult decisions. A teacher should not be discussing anything that is not educational to the children. I can understand your MD child being affected but your JH child?? If his/her teachers are discussing these matters to the students at SH, I would suggest maybe an email to the teacher. Honestly, I have a daughter at SH and she has no idea about teacher and administration moving around. I havent discussed this in front of my children nor has she said anything about teachers discussing this.
Tracy April 03, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Tax - I know, to hear the kids in JH are bothered, but the word of Lind and Mr. Cardinal has gotten around. Cardinal is his favorite teacher. And that was going across the school before the last board meeting. He's worried about clubs, not the cost, but will he personally get to be in them if no buses or participation goes down, will they cancel them all together. I just keep saying no worries until next year. My kids are getting annoyed with me now because I wont discuss much with them, cause the truth is, I don't know enough to have the discussions with them. And it does affect all the schools really, SHJH teachers make up 8 or 9 of the teachers being let go, and the kids seem to know Encore program is changing. So, makes sense it would affect the 7th graders thinking about what will happen in 8th grade. We keep forgetting it's not just MD closing, but changes throughout the whole district are happening.
caspert April 04, 2012 at 12:34 PM
@ concerned parent how do you know an email is coming on wednsday? As far as an outstanding education that changed when a school closed, clubs gone, and staff and good teachers honorably fired. Please tell me how adding more kids in a classroom is outstanding? Anything that used to set us apart from other districts is gone or will be gone next year. You are fooling yourself if you really believe it will be just as good. Really? Makes teachers jobs harder and more stressful. The reason it was so good was because of all those things that are now gone. All those suggestions given without properly being researched and this is the easy way out. It's amazing what other districts have cut but We couldn't get some of those things done I don't understand it. You have a handful of board members saying that everything was rushed and some wrong desicions are being made without proper research and info. Maybe outstanding has a new definition?
A Concerned Parent April 04, 2012 at 01:08 PM
@Caspert -- I know that an email is coming because I picked up the phone and asked. Amazing what you can find out by just picking up the phone. As for an outstanding education, I was referring to the actual education my kids have been receiving, not the clubs as I consider those extracurricular activities. My daughter is a straight-A student and had 25-26 kids in her classroom for both 3rd and 4th grade and her education didn't suffer. The classroom size guidelines aren't changing, it is still 27 kids for 3rd and 4th and 25 for 1st and 2nd. Yes, I am upset that good teachers were honorably fired, it sucks for them. However, the district is in trouble and the board had to do something, so I trust that they made the right decision. Only time will tell.
caspert April 04, 2012 at 02:24 PM
You must have a different phone line or connection? Who exactly did you call and talk to? I knew when I wrote the comment above the clubs was going to be picked out because no one really wants to address the rest of it because its true. As far as the max many classrooms weren't at the max so it is adding kids to a classroom and changing things. Honorably fired? There is nothing honorable about getting fired you can add any fancy word to it and it sucks for everyone not just the teachers. If the right descions were made then why wasn't it unanimous? Did anyone talk to the teachers and ask them what they thought? Did all board members visit all the schools and see how they run or just the ones they reside in? Teachers and staff are the ones on the front lines doing the actual work. Again things they set our district apart and put us above the rest are gone now. Why the catch phrase a 3 year plan? All smoke and mirrors. An informed researched plan with consulting individuals with a background in finances would of been a better option. Yes the district is in trouble all right. I agree with you on only time will tell. But it is at the expense of our kids.
taxpayer April 04, 2012 at 02:45 PM
caspert, I respect your opinion and If what you are saying is true that it will be stressful to have a few more kids in a class then the teachers at Rogus Kindergarten, Rogus 1-4, Indian Trail, and Mary Drew are WAY STRESSED. Classes at those schools have been over 20 kids. There was a 3rd grade class at IT last year that was at the max. I believe by adding kids to classrooms at FS and Arbury will not add stress OR to anyother school that has a handful of kids in a class. We all would love to have 15-19 kids per class but the reality is, you only get that at a private institution. I for one want to see classes evened out across the board. Schools that have low class sizes will do fine with a few more kids added to the class. The bigger schools in our district have managed, and I don't see my childs education lacking because he has 24 kids in his class.
A Concerned Parent April 04, 2012 at 03:16 PM
@caspert - I talked to the principal at my daughter's school and he told me that they were supposed to be sending out an email at 3:45 today. I don't think bit is a secret. As for using term "honorably fired" you used it first, I was merely following suit. I agree with you that things are going to change and I'm conecerned (obviously) but I'm trying to have a positive outlook. @Taxpayer - my son went to frankfort square last year and had 26 kids in his classroom. Same for his 3rd grade class. Right now they have 22 in 3rf and 4th. Qst and 2nd do, however, only have 18.
Rose C April 04, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Caspert would you really want our school board to come out & agree unanimously on every decision- especially on closing a building or ending FDK? I would suspect something REALLY shady was going on if they sat down agreed to everything without a discussion & the meeting was over in 30 minutes or less. I'm happy that these 7 people (regardless of how I may feel about them personally) actually discuss the process in front of an audience. I can understand your frustration with great teachers losing their jobs, however the State has tied the hands of school districts - google Senate Bill 7, it will turn your stomach. They have changed the rules on how teachers can be let go & re-hired in the event that the need arises. I have children at 3 different buildings & guess what I have seen several (not all) board members at assemblies & other school events at each of my children's schools. Not sure if you are aware of this but the last board removed the 'language' from board policy that board members are required to go into buildings. I remember this distinctly because it blew my mind. Why would you want to be on a school board if you have no interest in going into the buildings? I think you need to research before you rant-for the 7 years that I was in this district before KP retired, there was little to no community or teacher involvement in decision making. It sounds to me like you want the smoke & mirrors back rather than face the reality of the mess that was left behind.
Rose C April 04, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I have to ask Caspert, how do you know that 'all those suggestions were given without being properly researched?' Are you getting information from another source that the rest of us aren't priivy to? If so, please share. What is it YOU would have like to have seen cut? You're obviously upset about 1-4 clubs, really? I think so long as the class size guidelines aren't increased, why would we see overcrowded classrooms? I have heard at several board meetings that raising class sizes is not something the board or community wants to see happen. Hypothetically speaking -How would you operate this is district if you were running the show? Would you have kept all buildings open, all staff, extracurriculars, activity buses, & everything else that was cut? If so, how would you pay for all of that? Just because some parents want their taxes increased, fees raised, a $150 per student "donation", pay to ride the buses - I don't & I'd be willing to bet that alot of your friends & neighbors wouldn't want that either. Aren't you glad that you don't have to make the tough decisions? I'm glad those heartless, evil, self-centered (volunteer) board members - who are out to get us & ruin the education our children deserve - have to make these decisions. It's so much more fun to sit back & complain about how stupid they are. I bet that Borgens woman wishes she had kept her trap shut & stayed in the audience to write her ridiculous e-mails. This Monday morning quarterback thing is fun! (sarcasm)
taxpayer April 04, 2012 at 05:51 PM
@ Rose, well said. I have been in this district since 1999. I was here before there were all of these wonderful programs that we have today. My oldest did just fine. Our district was fortunate to have been able to add and enhance the education of our children when the economy was great. Unfortunately, some of those perks need to be let go. Not too often was the community notified of any changes, hiring or firings, programs added or elimated, etc. We were only informed if there was a strange car driving around the neighborhood. Because Barb Raines has opened that line of communication, people are more aware of what is going on. Unfortunately, she is feeling the heat because of it. Reality hurts sometimes but the Board and Superintendent need to make cuts that not everyone will be happy with. I have no doubt the children and the teachers will be just fine. As for the Board members visiting the schools. I can honestly say that I have seen them at my childrens schools on numerous occasions.
caspert April 05, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Well you 2 really told me. You are right about being in reality. I'm in reality it seems everyone else is busy watching rainbows and unicorns. I number 1 have every right to question things don't fault me. You are acting like others never demanded answers or questioned under K.P. Give me a break! That is not my fault or do I care. btw I'm sick to death of hearing about him its like listening to the presidential races. Guess what we are here now and the actions and the way these decisions have been made are how I'm judging others. Also the way the community is being slammed both at the board meeting and in the papers by a select few of its members. I 'm not ranting at all I'm questioning things. Sorry because you don't agree or its not your opinion that you have a problem with it. My taxes which by the way are not going down but the quality and all the things associated with district 161 is. Maybe others don't work as hard as my family does or just don't care about property values. Well the reason the country, state and school district are in these messes is because no one demands answers, accountability and questions. Maybe if more people did we wouldn't find ourselves in this situation. Lines of communication should always be open we shouldn't be bowing at anyones feet because they finally decided to do it that is the way districts should handle themselves.
informed April 05, 2012 at 02:19 AM
@Casper the friendly ghost- explain what you meant when you said "My taxes which by the way are not going down but the quality and all the things associated with district 161 is". I don't understand, Summit Hill School is STILL a great school district... sorry you and a couple people in this community feel this way.
taxpayer April 05, 2012 at 02:52 AM
I believe you must have just read what you wanted to.... I indicated in my post above, "caspert, I respect your opinion". First of all, people have demanded questions from KP, but ask those people (including me) if we got an honest answer. I also believe if there are valid questions, then by all means, question the Board. The quality of our childrens education is not going down. The curriculum isn't changing, the teachers in our district will continue to teach and educate our children to the best of their ability like they always have. Its the teachers teaching our kids, not the Board. I don't understand how people can say they understand the district needs to make cuts but then complain about the cuts that are made. I sure hope to see you "caspert" and anyone else that feel they can do better, on the ballot to run for one of the volunteer spots on the Board next year.
informed April 05, 2012 at 02:57 AM
@are you kidding me? This has to be Sean William with all the facts.
hmm April 18, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Everyone needs to become well aware of the States inability to pay their bills to our schools, they also need to be aware that the State is most likely pushing the teacher pension programs to the local districts, also the State is most likely pushing to make changes to transportation funding to districts.... YES THE REALITY IS QUALITY OF EDUCATION IN MANY IF NOT ALL WILL START TO DIMINISH. This is reality! You can only do so much financial reform within any organization. Unfortunately it is inevitable that the quality of education will degrade.
Dede April 24, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Legally, I thought positions HAD to be posted, although in this district, the decision is sometimes made before the posting.
hmm April 25, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Duster is a super himself now a days
Ready for Change April 26, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Maybe it is finally time for people to realize that the way we fund education, based on property taxes is a big problem. Why not tell legislators to switch funding of education to sales tax and then people who own homes wouldn't be overly burdened. Just a thought....

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