HIGHLAND PARK – The Reconfiguration 2.0 Community Team didn’t let a power failure put a damper on a recent meeting.
“We reached consensus working in the dark on a range of options to share with Nagle Hartray Architecture and Gilbane Building Company,” said Melissa Itkin, tri-chairwoman of the Reconfiguration 2.0 Community Team.
After Itkin finished her report at the April 18 North Shore School District (NSSD) 112 Board of Education (BOE) Meeting, Board Member Adam Kornblatt explained: “Last night the power went out in Downtown Highland Park and they (the 2.0 Team) literally were here in the dark.”
Itkin said, “People could’ve left but nobody did. We all stayed right where we were and kept working. We really made some great progress last night and we’re looking forward to the future.”
Earlier in the presentation, Itkin explained that the 2.0 Team added eight members and the team is excited for what each of the members “brings to the table.”
Itkin said the 2.0 Team held forums prior to spring break and introduced the criteria for evaluating the concepts at the forums. “We looked at the configurations against the criteria that we put up for education against the criteria that we had set up from community feedback and we’re still working on the cost piece.”
The configuration options will be presented at a June BOE meeting.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, newly elected board member Dan Jenks thanked the departing board members: President Samantha Stolberg, Karla Livney, Jane Solmor-Mordini and Lauren Klayman (who served the remainder of Jacqueline Denham’s term in January).
“I ask each of you, perhaps unfairly to stay involved,” said Jenks. “With the knowledge that you’ve gained during your time on the board, you still have a lot to contribute, and it’s going to take all of us working together to successfully address our challenges.”
He also thanked everyone on the board for their dedicated service. Bennett Lasko and Art Kessler echoed Jenk’s sentiments. Jenks, Kessler, Lasko and Alexander Brunk will officially become new board members at the next D-112 meeting on May 2.
Stolberg and Livney both offered parting remarks at their last official board meeting.
“My husband Adam and I were raised in Highland Park, went to these schools and strongly value public service,” said Stolberg. “Thank you for allowing me to serve you. While we certainly didn’t accomplish all that I had hoped for, I’m proud of what the board has done to work at sustainability without sacrificing the goals of our mission. I’m confident that the board is in good hands with existing board members Eric (Ephraim, vice president) Yumi (Ross, secretary) and Adam (Kornblatt) and incoming board members Dan, Art, Bennett and Alex.”
Livney thanked all of the cabinet members and community members. “When people say it’s a thankless job, they are wrong,” she said. “The knowledge I’ve gained from each of my relationships with the cabinet and community members has enriched me personally and made me a better thinker.”
Livney offered advice to the incoming board members:
- This district does not operate like a corporation, so take a deep breath and realize that change is hard and will take extra doses of patience.
- Learn from our capable cabinet administration. Know what you know and know what you don’t and be willing to ask.
- Be ready to be disliked. It comes with the job and often people who are hurling the insults are doing so with missing facts and emotion.
- Try harder than you ever thought necessary to be transparent.
- Don’t try to sell a referendum with a sacrifice in one part of town benefitting another part of town for the greater good. It won’t work. If I’ve learned one thing as a board member, it’s not to suggest what people should want, but to listen to what they do want.
- Solmor-Mordini who served on the board for eight years quietly listened to Stolberg’s and Livney’s farewell speeches. She was the only incumbent in the April 4 race for D-112 School Board, and she gave a gracious concession speech to DailyNorthShore after the election.
The changing of the guard will take place at the May 2 BOE meeting.