Friday, October 15, 2010

Letter To The Editor, By Bill Conger, Topic: Community Coalition Joint Powers Meeting, Oct. 14th, 2010 Regarding ISD 2142 School District

October 14, 2010

To the Editor,

I just attended the Thursday evening meeting of The Community Coalition Joint Powers Board held at the Crescent Supper Club located just outside of the Cook city limits and must admit I was quite surprised.

Mr. Tom Watson, a consultant hired by the Coalition, assessed the state of ISD 2142 and found that a lot of what the district has been saying for the past three years is basically true. He also found that the district is one of the more financially efficient districts in the area. He found that compared to surrounding districts using state testing criteria they do one of the better jobs of education. He found that when compared to the model charter school being touted by the coalition, the district does a significantly better job at education. In short, it seemed that his findings on most issues aligned more with the ISD 2142 view than with the Coalition view.

I agree that the environment necessary to promote community growth will attract new jobs and young families with children. Building this environment is the job of city and township governments. Educating the children that live in this entire area is the job of District 2142.

Only when there is job and population growth can the school system react to growth. In the meantime, they have to react to decline. Having an aggressive plan to deal with enrollment and revenue decline is overdue and the right course of action, and is the course the district has chosen. Consolidation of district schools is the only recourse to declining enrollment and declining revenue.

It is time for the coalition to focus on the job of creating a progressive community atmosphere. This is the job that belongs to the units of government the members of the Coalition were elected to represent. They should cooperate with the school district to help them do the job it is in business to do, which is delivering the best education to all of the children in the district.

The members of the coalition in attendance were presented with facts and opinions that were contrary to their publically stated opinions and goals, and in my opinion they were visibly disturbed.

I agreed with most of the presentation and I was greatly disturbed. I am still greatly disturbed, because the Coalition has wasted a lot of time and energy trying to block the plan that was voter approved. I am disturbed because they have diverted hundreds of hours of District 2142 personnel time from pursuing a full agenda of reforms aimed at providing a better education for the students in the district. The delay in construction of the North School caused by their actions will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra costs that will translate into a lesser facility when it is finally completed. I am disturbed that the personal attacks aimed at individual school board members has made a difficult public service even worse. Public servants should not be attacking other public servants. It is just plain bad form and could backfire.

My hope is that after tonight, The Community Coalition Joint Powers Board will convert from a group opposing and obstructing District 2142’s plan into group that is actively working to attract jobs, provide affordable housing alternatives for young families and consolidating the services they do control in an effort to make northern St. Louis County an attractive place to live and a place for growth. If the district plan can be helped instead of hindered, there will be an improved educational system ready and waiting when growth does occur.


Bill Conger

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