Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- In the end, Crete-Monee School District 201-U’s “Future Ready 2022” plan was never going to move forward Tuesday night at Talala School. The plan to close Talala School is officially “in limbo.” The district held its monthly meeting, but had reached consensus on suspending “the procurement of loans as we take additional time to review data and reflect on the important next stages of planning.” Or, as school board member Maurice Brown told eNews Park Forest after the meeting, “We haven’t even talked as a board as to say, ‘Okay, what are we looking for … again?'”
“So, right now, because we have not been able to — they’re trying to push forward and sell and embark themselves upon $45 million in debt,” Mr. Brown said. He added that some on the board wanted to bring that up for a vote at this meeting, “But, we didn’t move it forward to be voted on today.”
“That slows the process, or kills the process, as it is right now,” Mr. Brown said. “So, what we asked for last week [at the October 6 Meeting of the Whole] is that any plan of this magnitude, we bring it to the public for a referendum so they can provide their input.”
“That was loud and clear,” Mr. Brown added.
Was that “loud and clear from the majority of the board?”
“Yes, oh yes,” Mr. Brown replied. “That was loud and clear.”
“So, right now, what that consist of, we don’t know. We don’t know,” Mr. Brown said. “We have to go back to the drawing table.”
Board President Jennifer A. Gasbarro mentioned that a statement about the board’s plan was on the 201-U website, but one had to click through from a homepage statement that said simply, “Future Ready Message from the Board President: On Saturday, many of you saw a post from me regarding the school board’s progress towards determining the direction of our Future Ready Plan. — VIEW MORE.”
The full message was published October 11, according to the district’s website:
Dear CM 201-U Staff & Community,
On Saturday, many of you saw a post from me regarding the school board’s progress towards determining the direction of our Future Ready Plan. I shared with you that the Board of Education had reached consensus at our Special Open Committee of the Whole meeting. I witnessed firsthand the incredible collaborative spirit in which our members represented the concerns and interests of their constituents and communities. Our workshop facilitator, Dr. Robert Madonia, and Dr. Coglianese provided a robust workshop that included pairing activities, evaluation of data, comparative analysis, review of pros and cons, and a productive exchange of perspectives.
While we did reach consensus together on the District’s Future Ready option, the Board of Education has decided to suspend the procurement of loans as we take additional time to review data and reflect on the important next stages of planning. As thought partners in this process, we know that the most vital component of any successful organization is to have a strong strategic plan that supports the mission and vision.
This fall, the Board of Education will begin the strategic planning process which will inform the final phases of implementation of our Future Ready vision. Concurrently, the school board will develop a project timeline to help keep our stakeholders informed.
We continue to appreciate your trust and support of our efforts as we come together to create a bright future full of possibilities for all of our children.
Jennifer A. Gasbarro
A number of people spoke before the board opposing the plan. No one spoke in favor. PTO President Danille Perez told eNews Park Forest she was told she was not permitted to speak because she was the PTO President — a unique retraction of First Amendment rights.
As was previously reported, yesterday and through the afternoon today, the district’s website said the meeting began at 7:00 p.m. The agenda said the meeting was scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. A message left at the district office this morning asking for clarification was never returned. eNews Park Forest shared with board members after the meeting the discrepancy in times posted. Dr. Nakia Hall acknowledged the discrepancy and said it had been corrected, plus a notice had been put on the district’s Facebook page. The correction must have happened late in the day.
Dr. Hall appeared concerned, “Did you get a screenshot?”
No, but next time we will.
This is a school district that deserves closer scrutiny.
Much closer scrutiny.