“Politicians and Diapers must be changed often, and for the same reasons” — Mark Twain
2017 is off to a great start here in Highland Park. The days are getting longer, the sun feels a little warmer and the contentious NSSD112 school board is going to be “almost” fully replaced shortly. Notice I said, “almost.”
Let’s review the school board math. There were three school board members that voted for the referendum, but wisely opposed BDR3 (Karla Livney, Samantha Stolberg and Eric Ephraim). Both Karla and Samantha have decided not to run again and Eric’s term expires in 2019. I believe they should be thanked for their service, applauded for trying to slow down the process and for arguing to develop a better solution to our school problems. Additionally, Eric deserves a special dispensation since he appears to have been the “voice of reason” throughout the entire process and will provide important continuity for the new school board members.
Conversely, there were four board members that supported the ill-fated referendum and steadfastly defended BDR3 at almost any cost to the community. Two of these board members (President Michael Cohn and Jacqueline Denham) have already resigned. A third member, Jane Solmor-Mordini, is running for re-election. She will face the voters in April. I’m not much of a handicapper, but I don’t like her chances for re-election. Who knows, stranger things have happened!!
Then there is a fourth board member, Yumi Ross, (whose term ends in 2019) that quietly supported the referendum, supported BDR3, until the horse had left the barn, and now wants to continue to sit on the school board for two more years. Huh?? She has been on the wrong side of major issues on the school board and taken no responsibility or ownership for her bad decisions. Ms. Ross had the extraordinary power, with her vote, to end much of the acrimony over BDR3 and she choose to consistently punt (what were you possibly thinking?) She showed no independence and no leadership. Voting “present” and warming a chair cannot be misconstrued as good governance. It is, time for Ms. Ross to resign now as well. What are you waiting for? I cannot come up with a reason as to why Ms. Ross deserves a hall pass.
The overreach and failure of this current school board is simple astonishing. Who precisely asked them to reform education in Highland Park for the 21st century or whatever other drivel they were espousing? It was enlightening to recently hear Karla Livney admit that they had made the problems too complex and that there are simpler, better solutions. They had tried to be all things to all people. Putting out a plan that closed one third of the schools was ridiculous. Exactly how did they think the public was going to react? Instead, they have lost the opportunity to do anything productive for Highland Park. They may have been better off if they had followed the advice that we give our kids on the best way to eat an elephant…one bite at a time.
As a 20-year resident, I can honestly say that I have never known the names of any school board members prior to this current crop. It is simultaneously sad and ironic that many of us now know the names of all of these board members the same way we know the Cubs lineup. As we have all learned, the school board seats are too important, too valuable, to be left for just ceremonial placeholders. We need the best seven minds in the community, that are willing and able to make the effort and time commitment, to solve our future school issues.
Peter Henry, Highland Park
O’Keefe Henry Direct, Inc.
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