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  1. Casting the difference between the two slate of candidates in terms of a cold war where the opponents are allied along generational lines is an extremely bad analogy because it strikes negative connotations on several fronts. Plus, suggesting that those with kids in the schools, or that will have soon, have more at stake than those that don’t, is a poorly conceived argument. Every home owner in the district, whether or not they have kids in the schools, has a big stake in the future direction of the 112. While I am sure the messenger had good intentions, his message needs sharpening. Regardless of the makeup of the next board, it will face many tough issues, starting with the district’s financial issues and which, if any, schools will be closed. Effectively handling those issues will have nothing to do with what generation board members are a part of and everything to do with their problem-solving skills. In an off-year election, which typically sees low voter turnout, and nine candidates running for four seats, every vote is going to be extremely valuable.

  2. On the day of the election last year, Art Kessler and I stood outside the HP Community house, each of us supporting opposing sides of the $198M referendum election. Over the course of our 4-hour shift, in between urging people to vote our way, we traded good-natured barbs and predictions about the outcome of the day. For the record, I was right (unfortunately, we didn’t make a bet on it). One of the things we discussed was the specter of BDR3. We both agreed that it would be disastrous for the district. There is no doubt in my mind that Art clearly opposed the BDR3 plan from the beginning.

    My only concern, based on Art’s statements at the March 6th Reconfiguration 2.0 meeting, is his recommendation to hold a board vote to close schools in July of 2017 prior to any reconfiguration proposal and referendum. Although I understand his motivation for decoupling a decision about school closures from a referendum ask, I’m still left with questions. Art explained to me at the Caucus forum last week that it seemed likely that many people opposing *any* school closures would vote against a referendum, regardless of its merits. He felt that a 9-month buffer between closure decisions and an election could help the community become reconciled to the decision. (Art, feel free to correct me if I’m misstating your position here).

    I said to him that it is equally likely that many people would view the move as a betrayal, and would likely remember it when considering a referendum vote (regardless of timing).

    Most importantly, I wondered how he could square the community’s repeated demands for engagement in these decisions with his desire to apparently take their priorities out of the equation?

    Art is a good man, and it’s clear to me that he cares about the children in the district, but I’m not yet convinced that this approach is the right one for Highland Park, Highwood, and Ft. Sheridan.

    • Val, thanks for giving me an opportunity to explain. Regarding the timing of the closings, I am in no way implying that a future school board should disregard the community’s demands for engagement. My role on 2.0 has actually been to coordinate engagement efforts with the community. If all goes well, by May, 2.0 should have configurations options figured out based on the engagement that is happening now and will be going back out to the community for the second round of focus groups, community forums, and surveys to get further feedback from the public on those configurations. I am hoping that this will give us a clear indication of what the community is willing to support. That would form the basis for recommendations to the Board upon which the board can make some decisions. In no way am I advocating to take the community’s priorities out of the equation. Quite the opposite. 2.0 is working very hard to engage the community in this process. To that point, please attend the Community Forum sessions at Elm Place March 22 and 23 at 7:00 and be part of the process. 2.0 is also conducting an important survey right now which everyone will have the opportunity to participate in April 3. Then stay tuned in May for more chances to make your voice heard. We can’t do this without you.

  3. Peter – I want to point out some inaccuracies in your letter. While 50 is rapidly approaching, I am 49 and will cling to that every day that I have left. More importantly, I have a 4th grader at Indian Trail and 7th grader at Elm Place so I very much am more Pig than Chicken in your analogy. Regardless, I don’t think you need to have kids in the school system to altruistically care deeply about what is in the best interest of kids and the community at large. As those on the Reconfiguration 2.0 Committee and leadership of CARE can attest, I have been working non-stop since the day the referendum failed through my personal efforts and my efforts on 2.0 to find common ground and address the very real educational and financial challenges that we face in a balanced way that respects our community’s values. I believe the only way that we are going to solve this is by engaging the community in the solution, something that was not done consistently in the run-up to what became the failed referendum. To address Jeff Hamburg’s wildly inaccurate reply above, I spoke in opposition to BDR3 with every board member and I believe that the school board should not close any more buildings than are recommended by the Reconfiguration 2.0 team in alignment with the feedback they get through their extensive community engagement efforts. To everyone still reading this far, come out to Reconfiguration 2.0’s community forums March 22 and 23 at Elm Place so that you can voice your own opinions on Reconfiguration and be part of the process.

    • Art — sorry for missing your age. Hang on to those last few days, they are good ones. I saw something online that said you went to MSU from ’75-’79. I didn’t know you were a child prodigy? As for the balance, your previous stance is fairly well documented. I will send in a correction to any other factual errors like the Wall St Journal does…it should show up in 2 weeks buried in the back in mouse type.


  4. Peter- You said it all. I can only try adding to your insight. True, board members with kids in the schools indeed bring a vital PERSPECTIVE to the task, as you say. But moreover, Alex Brunk, Brent Ross, Lisa Hirsh, and Julie Campbell also share a community-oriented VISION for Highland Park schools–one held by the overwhelming majority of voters. I’ll add Steve Welhouse’s name to their list of names. Candidates Kessler, Jenks, Lasko, and Mordini, however, take a very different view. For starters, their support for the referendum and BDR3 was fervent and well-documented. Now, as 2.0 Committee participants and aspiring board members, they are swinging for excessive closures ahead of the next referendum. Success would leave us weighing our newly cramped, degraded school system versus a $100+ million spending plan to mend it. Voters, both older and younger, have seen those lousy options before.

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