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New D46 Board Members Plan to Stir the Pot

Two newcomers and one re-elected school board member promise to keep the discussions flowing.

It was a tight race, but Shannon Smigielski and Kip Evans managed to garner enough votes to earn a seat on Grayslake’s District 46 Board of Education.  Both will join re-elected member Sue Facklam and the current term members at the May 3 board meeting.

Smigielski’s campaign appealed to voters as a fellow parent who wanted to be the voice for the community.

Evans, a retired school teacher, made no secret of his affiliation with the Lake County Tea Party, seeking more financial transparency and lower taxes.

Facklam maintained her commitment to the district and will continue for a third term.

The newcomers to the board were asked about their plans for the upcoming term:

1.       What will you bring to the table that has been missing or would be of benefit to the district?

As a new Board member, I hope to be a positive force in many areas. I hope to help bridge the divide that the community feels between them and the board. I want to encourage the community to have input and share their ideas. The district is facing some very difficult challenges ahead and one of the best ways to work through those challenges would be asking for and including community input. Grayslake is a fabulous community with a diversely skilled population. It is in everyone's best interest to utilize the talents and intellects of those who wish to share.   Shannon Smigielski -

I hope to encourage the board to be more transparent and responsive to the public.  This board should not act as the enemy of the public but rather as the representative of all taxpayers.         Kip Evans

2.   How will you handle differences of opinion on school board issues between yourself, other board members and the superintendent?

I may be slightly different than most people when it comes to differences of opinion: I welcome additional perspectives. I hope that when a decision is made that I don't agree with, the other Board Members will be able to diplomatically explain their process and reasons for reaching their decision. As long as decisions are made through diligent and thorough research, I will respect it, even if I don't agree.   Shannon Smigielski

I am coming to this board with no preconceived agenda. I am a good listener and will consider the opinion of the superintendent and all other board members before I form my opinions.       Kip Evans

3.       Do you have target issues that you plan to address?

An important issue that I plan to address is how the board interacts with the administrators, staff, and students of the schools. A community member and I spoke before the election at length about this. It is time for our board to invest; what do I mean by this?  We have seven Board members. We have seven schools.  I will be proposing that each Board member "adopt" a school.  The Board members should then invest themselves by getting to know the staff by participating at PTO functions, going to concerts/plays, observing classes, spending time with the custodians to the media assistants to the administrators. Ride a bus route! Have lunch with the kids! Take the staff out on a Friday night for pizza...say "Thank you!" and "How can I help?"  Shannon Smigielski

The recent increase in the tax levy was to pay for a shortfall in the cost of bus transportation. I want to look into the details of this part of the budget. Otherwise, I have no targets other than becoming familiar with the inner workings of the district with an eye to making improvements whenever possible.    Kip Evans

4.  In your opinion, will politics continue to impact the school board, as it did during the elections? 

If this school board and district wants to move forward and be productive, positive, and effective, then there is no room at the table for politics, grievances and acrimony.   Shannon Smigielski

I got involved with the school board because of its lack of transparency. Unless the board is willing to make changes in the way it puts out information and in the way it treats the taxpayer, politics will continue to impact its actions.      Kip Evans

GoBlue April 18, 2011 at 06:34 PM
As for property tax, it depends on where you live as to how much you pay. There are areas in Grayslake that pay a lot in taxes and others that pay less. I am in Hainesville and I do not feel that my taxes are ridiculously high. Unfortunately I do not think you can solely blame property taxes for the housing market issues. The housing markets stink all over the country right now. I believe that if the board can work through the issues and keep District 46 headed in the right direction, it will only help bring more people to Grayslake and Hainesville.
Brad Faxton April 18, 2011 at 07:44 PM
CE - but that is exactly what Kip wants to do... make a play to drastically lower taxes (just because) and then force the school to cut a HUGE amount of services (just because).
GoBlue April 18, 2011 at 08:04 PM
At this point all I can do is hope the rest of the board hold Kip and Michael in check and not allow them to take over.
Sully April 18, 2011 at 08:05 PM
i have to agree with you regarding the tea party. most of th members are so uninformed or misinformed, it's scary. here's a look at what one of the tea party governors is doing to his state- http://blog.buzzflash.com/node/12610 somehow this doesn't strike me as LESS government intrusion.
Sully April 18, 2011 at 10:39 PM
i hope so too, ce. i won't be holding my breath though. i believe there are plenty of disgruntled teachers who if they had other options, would look elsewhere for employment. carbone and evans can run rampant knowing the teachers here are in a bind. i can hear the tea baggers now, screaming, 'then let them leave!', but that's the point. there's no where else to go. these are good teachers too who deserve better. the truly uneducated and the ignorant (evans would have to be included by belonging to the tea party) don't seem to understand that.
KPS April 19, 2011 at 02:26 AM
I would encourage everyone concerned about property taxes and the funding of education to contact Suzi Schmidt and Sandy Cole. The current tax structure in Illinois leaves the funding of education on the backs of local tax payers. It results in high property taxes and an inequity of educational opportunities across communities, with the children living in wealthier communities reaping the benefits of their high property values and sales tax revenue. When we choose to live in a small community like Grayslake that does not have a lot of big businesses, that means the schools receive little revenue from sales tax and hence, the funds must come from property taxes. There is simply no way around this logic and it is the elephant in the room that no one seems to talk about or want to address. We all want every child to have the greatest opportunities for success. Reality: our per pupil expenditures are just below the state average; this school district is not spending outrageous sums on our children. It is about the tax structure and our community's minimal commercial development.
Sully April 19, 2011 at 10:18 AM
excellent point, kps! i know of schools down the north shore that offer each of its upper grade students their own laptops (that they keep for the school year-it's theirs to take home, etc...), there's no way grayslake can afford to do that. the disparities between school districts is breathtaking. yet some in grayslake want to make the disparities even greater by frugal spending policies. it will be kind of hard to compete with other students vying for college admission if the playing field is so one-sided. right now their hope is in capitalizing while in district 127, but how long are the high schools going to be able to provide for their students if the elementary district sends them less than the best possibly educated students?
Carl April 19, 2011 at 11:49 AM
In all fairness, we do need to keep an eye on how we SPEND. There is tremendous waste in CCSD 46. Unfortunately, when the Tea Party finds it, they give it back to the taxpayer rather than redirecting it appropriately in the system. That's why I continue to say that the 1st priority is the kids; not the taxpayer. What do we have to do to get rid of Blue Ribbon?
GoBlue April 19, 2011 at 01:47 PM
That is an excellent point KPS. I did not think of it from that angle. I have no idea what we should do. It is not like we have the land to bring in a bunch of new businesses. Also, if we overcrowd Grayslake/Hainesville with too much commercialization, it detracts from the small town atmosphere that caused people to move here in the first place. I am interested to hear what other posters think would be the best course of action. We can most certainly be more watchful in how we spend what we have per Carl's comments, which I completely agree with as long as the money is kept within the school system helping the children. What else can we do?
Sully April 19, 2011 at 03:10 PM
that's a question every school district in the country is asking. how about less money from the feds. for war and more for domestic spending? the priorities in this country are seriously out of whack. fewer tax cuts for multi-billionaires wouldn't hurt either. for some reason, the common folk who make up the tea party (not the rich who are funding it) think that lower taxes for the wealthy will somehow help the economy.
Brad Faxton April 19, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Not to split hairs (no pun intended), a Tea Bagger and a Tea Party member are 2 somewhat unrelated..... affiliations I gotta stop.
Brad Faxton April 19, 2011 at 06:32 PM
This does come full circle. in D46, we have far too high administrative costs. Too many admins, too many principals (sorry), too many.... list can keep going. Rearrange those costs, refocus the cost savings on the students - like bus transportation, music, curriculum etc...
Carl April 19, 2011 at 07:37 PM
And the idea of having administrators wear "two hats" is so counter-productive. A principal should not also be a superintendent. Switching between 2 jobs is as inefficient as it gets. Let a principal be a principal and let them work 2 or 3 buildings. That way, they do one job, centralize their support functions for multiple locations, and end up with multiple schools on the same page relative to culture. That's how you down-size staff.
Sully April 19, 2011 at 08:00 PM
brad- the d46 administration is far from top heavy. if you believe otherwise, you are mistaken.
Carl April 19, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Sullivan... ...until you look at the spread between teacher cost vs. Administrator cost. Much bigger gap than most districts.
Sully April 19, 2011 at 10:09 PM
however, with some administrators taking on two positions, what is the true cost? and compared to other district's administrator pay, how does grayslake stack up?
Sully April 19, 2011 at 10:12 PM
let a principal work 2 or 3 buildings? are you kidding? maybe you should shadow one of the principals and see what their day consists of. they barely have time to get through a day, and without an a.p., there's no way they could do everything needed for the good of the school.
Pmint April 20, 2011 at 06:31 AM
FINALLY someone who understands the underlying problem! Illinois ranks in the bottom 10% in the nation of states that financially support public education. That means that for the majority of expenses, the District has to find the money itself. And the state has drastically limited where that income can come from. People look at a graph of district income and are appalled that 75% of it comes from property taxes - that's the only place they're allowed to get it! I'm not suggesting that IL has any money to start funding a reasonable amount, but they regularly place limitations on what local entities can do to change their financial situations, and regularly pass unfunded mandates, which requires us to spend our dwindling resources in specific ways. Add that to the rampant housing growth in our district in the past 15 years (how many school children live in each house, townhouse and condo?) with no concurrent commercial growth, and it's the disaster we have now. I say make the state solve their own problems, and leave our local schools alone - at least until they bring something to the table besides more regulations.
Sully April 20, 2011 at 09:37 AM
i fear that with the likes of carbone and evans on the board, and with lennie jarratt on some personal crusade against the superintendent, this district is in for some rough times ahead.
Tazer April 20, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Cool story on D46 in today's Daily Herald.
Sully April 20, 2011 at 03:06 PM
cool? in what sense?
Carl April 20, 2011 at 07:32 PM
Cool that Jarratt continues to waste district funds with a silly complaint over an email. He needs to get a job and pay his mortgage which in turn will pay the taxes he DOESN'T pay ant complains about so vehemently...
Sully April 20, 2011 at 08:29 PM
i'd like to know why jarratt was sending tea party literature to mrs. correll on district email. is that not political?
Carl April 20, 2011 at 11:25 PM
It's called bait. I've read the entire thread/complaint and this whole thing is a joke. What a waste of money. It's going nowhere but the check register under "legal" instead of what's best for the district.
Sully April 20, 2011 at 11:54 PM
that was my thinking as well, carl. i'm not sure lennie is bright enough to think up a plan like this on his own though. maybe carbone?
Sully April 21, 2011 at 12:00 AM
hmmm... timely, and interesting- lennie's bosses- http://www.thenation.com/print/article/160062/big-brothers-thought-control-koch
Carl April 21, 2011 at 02:04 AM
Actually, the bait came to Ellen from that AFP dude...Joe something...Lennie's not that bright. He has a new puppeteer...used to be Bruno.
Carl April 21, 2011 at 02:06 AM
Awww...it's just their favorite double-standard...
Carl April 21, 2011 at 02:17 AM
A word about the ethics complaint... As usual, the DH took it all out of context. Ellen was checking with counsel because Smigelski threatened a slander/libel action; not if the "Meet & Greet" was appropriate. Facklam was concerned because she didn't feel it was warranted. District counsel is certainly an appropriate go-to when a board member is threatened with such.
Sully April 21, 2011 at 02:44 AM
i've been wondering- what does the herald have against d46? it seems that any press the district receives is negative.

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