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Letter to the Editor: D15 Community Communication Forum

Palatine resident and District 15 parent, Lisa Beth Szczupaj expresses feelings about representation from the school district at the forum scheduled for Saturday, January 26.

I am sitting here disgusted having just been told of the elected officials, appointed administrators and chosen decision making committee members who will NOT be attending the ONLY Community Communication Forum scheduled by the District 15 Board of Education and the Superintendent's Office to discuss the controversial Late Start/Early Release Program proposed for all District 15 grammar and middle schools for next year.   

As concerned parents, we have been told that we need to show "overwhelming community opposition" at the Forum on Saturday, January 26th in order to have a voice in this discussion.  We have heard overwhelming community opposition, have garnered it (more than 900 community member signatures in a little over a week) and are planning to be available to present it at the time that was scheduled by the Superintendent's Office and Board of Education. We, the parents and stakeholders, will be present even though the Community Communication Forum was scheduled at a time on Saturday morning when our children play their Park District basketball and soccer league games. 

What is absolutely disgraceful is the fact that I have just been told that we can expect only 2 of the 6 people on the decisionmaking committee for this change to attend Saturday's meeting.  These two representative attendees will be from the Superintendent's Office - Superintendent Scott Thompson and Deputy Superintendent James Garwood.  The other 4 representatives - Northwest Suburban Council PTA President Julie O'Hara, Lisa Nuss CTC Teachers Union President, Anne Bridges CTC Teachers Union Executive Director and Mary Beth Landerman CTC Teachers Union Exec Board Member - do not plan on attending.

What is the point of communicating the thoughts and opinions of the community to a committee entrusted with making the decision that is best for our children and families if not even half of them bother to show up to listen? Will these people truly represent what we think and the current conversation or have they already decided what they are going to do?  Do our reasonable feedback and opinions not matter?   

In addition, only three of the seven members of our Board of Education intend to come to the meeting they are hosting. Did we not elect these people to the Board of Education to represent us, the taxpayers of District 15?  How can seven members of OUR Board of Education represent US if they do not come and listen to us tell them what we think at the Community Communication Forum that they scheduled?  This Community Communication Forum was suggested under the pretext that they are interested in having the community communicate directly with them and tell them what we think as we listen to what they think. 

On top of all this, the very small group of us making the effort to get the word out has been stunned at the lack of knowledge on the street about this change; a change that has an incredible impact on the families in our community.  We feel that the effort at communicating the change has been half baked at best and has completely missed a large portion of our demographic that lacks daily email contact.  We feel, in speaking directly with many teachers in our District, that they also feel as though this potential change for them has not been well communicated and they do not understand the impact of the change or why there is such resistance by the Superintendent's Office and the CTC to consider the impact on the community.

Am I disgusted?  Yes, I am.  I ask all people indicated above:  Who do you represent?  Do you feel that you are representing them well?  Did we not elect you to do a job?  Can you show up to do it?  We, the working parents, are still going to have to show up to do our jobs whether you decide Friday afternoon, Monday afternoon, Monday morning, Wednesday afternoon or Wednesday morning.  You are all expecting us to figure out a way to still show up every single week after you make a choice that does not work for us.  CAN YOU JUST SHOW UP ONE TIME? 

Lisa Beth Szczupaj 
District 15 Resident & Taxpayer 
Palatine, Illinois   

Editor's note: Letters to the Editor are presented as they are originally submitted by our readers. Palatine Patch neither agrees nor disagrees with the opinions presented. 

WIBearsFan January 24, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Getting a sub isn't as easy as everybody thinks. Plans need to written out so the sub is prepared. For most teacher iIt's easier just to go in to teach the kids then to get a sub. Teachers don't have "summers off" as everybody thinks. They actually do job related work - from learning new curriculum because the states changed how testing is done for the next school year, taking enrichment courses because the state requires it, preparing plans, getting classrooms ready. This may not seem much but it is necessary for their jobs. If you think teachers are spoiled then you have no clue what is involved in this profession.
CURRENT PALATINE RESIDENT January 24, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Jim you are right on. Ex-Palatine Resident needs to mind their own business. My entire family were teachers and did not make even close to the salaries these teachers make, all while putting in full days and taking home papers to grade. AND THEY ENJOYED IT! Other countries put their children's educations first. Ours wants to shorten days, etc. We absolutely have to instill a strong work ethic in school. Now all our kids will know is that becoming a teacher in the NW suburbs will grant a large salary with much time off.
Becky Werner January 24, 2013 at 08:31 PM
I am sick of comments like ExPalatineRes posted. Teachers are only in the classroom 5 1/2 hours a day, 8 months a year. They're supposed to take work home because they don't put in a full 8 during the day. They complain about an extra half hour to "enrich" themselves? No company gives you company time to "enrich" yourself. I am sorry, but they do not give the hours commensurate to their pay. They don't know what hard work is. Most "professionals" are doing emails on the train and planning their day at 5 a.m. Teachers want to be paid like professionals but act like hourly janitors. Professionals do whatever it takes to be good at their jobs. That mean an occasional 12 hour day, coming in at 6 a.m. for meetings, doing emails and planning after the kids are in bed. It is at the point now where most of these teachers are so out of touch with hard work they couldn't make it in the real world. And now, they want to take 40 minutes a week from the kids and give it back to them in 10 minute increments? If you can get SO MUCH done in 10 minutes, why are the teachers get "enriched" in 10 minute increments? Do you think the superintendent breaks his staff meeting into 10 minute blocks? Or the board meetings in 10 minute blocks. But it's OK for a 7 year old to try to learn in an extra 10 minutes, but not an adult because the teachers and union DEMANDS. This current batch of teachers and the union are ruining our education system, our district and our community.
Catherine January 24, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Ditto!
Jason January 24, 2013 at 09:21 PM
From my understanding based on an email from the superintendent's office, the late start/early release was a concession made to the union in order to balance the budget. Responsibility always cost when you deal with unions & liberals. For ExPalatineRes, what is being said here is most of us who have professional jobs would love to have it as teachers do. Since I'm really blessed with work, I am often home by 4:30 and a former teacher asked me if I was a teacher since I was home so early. I said, no, I get in @ 7 & can work from home if needed. Most are not as fortunate as I am. Until unions are eliminated we will never really see the quality children deserve.
WIBearsFan January 24, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Your logic is the teacher gets to school and leaves at the same time a student does? I know teachers who get to school an hour before and stay an hour after the bell rings. They sometimes stay a bit longer. Your 5 1/2 hour day is now almost 8. Now after these teachers come home, prepare dinner, help their kids with homework then put them to bed they go back to being a "professional" and work on the remaining items that need to be completed for the next day of lessons or whatever other work related things need to be done. All said teachers put in the same amount of time as you "professionals" when you add it all up throughout the day. At least the teachers I know have an superb work ethic and do make it work in the real word. The kicker is the teachers I know get compliments from parents and letters from students about how much they enjoy school. By the way, your 12 hours days includes an hour lunch and probably a few coffee and water cooler breaks throughout the day. Not to mention you get to sit down for most of the day.
CURRENT PALATINE RESIDENT January 24, 2013 at 11:54 PM
Ex Palatine resident clearly is out of touch and should probably show up to the meeting Saturday. He/she is extremely one sided and selfish. Again, I come from generations of teachers who think this new proposal is lazy!!!
Palatine January 25, 2013 at 01:31 AM
This is a direct quote from Dr. Thompson, the brain child of this debacle from the District 15 newsletter. "He also added that early dismissal on Friday afternoons was not included as an option in the survey because the end of a long work week is not considered an optimal time for professional development." Dr. Thompson, I work for a Fortune 50 Company and we have Friday afternoon Teleconferences EVERY WEEK at 4PM CST. Last time I checked ~63% of my tax dollars go to Education in Dist 15. It's time you listen to your constituents that pay YOUR salary. Not the Teachers Union. Wake up get with the REAL world that works 365 Days a year.
Shawn January 25, 2013 at 02:36 AM
I think the reason for officials being MIA at the meeting is because this issue was included in the new contract and agreed upon by both sides and can't be taken back now. Professional Development should have been discussed more before the contract was approved and signed. I am curious if any residents knew that this enrichment provision was in the new contract and if so how was it presented. I don't think Mr Thompson and the board communicated to residents of the consequences of this provision of the contract before it was signed. I don't like it either and would have rather paid more in taxes than have multiple start/dismiss times. The teachers are not the bad guys here though. Our school board and district leaders should be held accountable for creating this mess. They did not tell the public that "Professional Development Time" = multiple start/ dismiss times before the contract was ratified. If so this outrage would have came out earlier and something else could have been negotiated such as more $$$$ instead of this "Professional development Time" It would be nice if all parties INVOLVED attended this meeting so something acceptable could be discussed.
Palatine January 25, 2013 at 02:52 AM
Shawn, so what your telling me is the organic thought process came from ---- ???? No one is accusing the "teachers" as "bad guys"? God forbid...seems there is a lot of missing transparency. Also, just the term "enrichment provision" screams opportunistic. Shawn, it seems to me you have a vested interest in the decision. May I ask where? A "Friday" early release is the most obvious and equitable decision that seems to be most vocal. But for the majority of board members to not attend - is a slap in the face. Lisa's letter is spot on.
ALK January 25, 2013 at 03:50 AM
I think you are under the assumption that teachers actually have any say in this matter. You are mistaken. Teachers want the time with their students. They don't want more meetings. Trust me on this one!
Scott January 25, 2013 at 04:15 AM
"...don't think Mr Thompson and the board communicated to residents of the consequences of this provision of the contract before it was signed" That's the flaw in the whole process; the teachers and the BOE knows the terms of a new contract, but the public *never* gets to see it until after both sides have voted to ratify it. And then it's too late for the public to object. Grayslake just settled their strike this week - the BOE knows the terms, the teachers know the terms, but the public won't know until *after* its been signed by both sides.
Shawn January 25, 2013 at 05:49 AM
Palatine , my vested interest? Your reading to far into it. My kids are in elementary dist 15 and my family will be affected. I think multiple start /dismiss times for elementary students is wrong. Friday early release would be the best for ME also. That way my family weekend plans could start earlier. It's not "ABOUT ME" though. The other side is now teachers weekend plans would be starting later interfering with their family plans. Families weekend plans sometimes start on Friday right after work or school. I doubt that Friday was even an option when teachers agreed to Professional development time vs more $$. I agree with Lisa's letter and was just stating my 2 cents. I do think the school board needs to be held accountable to the people that put them there. If you are elected, you need to attend this public discussion. People are not happy. How many would have agreed to a $20 tax increase vs multiple start/dismiss times ? BTW Bad guys refers to the teacher bashing comments of others I read here and not about Lisa's letter . I wouldn't want to be a teacher and I'm not. I'm glad to have teachers that enjoy teaching my kids. Some peoples comments about teachers work days and benefits compared to the real world seem envious. We all pick our career path in college knowing the demands and benefits of that career.
Sandy January 25, 2013 at 02:52 PM
I think the issue here is not that parents aren't embracing making time for teacher collaboration--who doesn't want a better prepared and enriched teacher for their child? But instead, parents would prefer our administrators provide our teachers with time to meet during their contractual day that doesn't create a childcare hardship for families. If the administrators and the teacher's union do the research, there are ways to create regularly scheduled weekly time for collaboration during the contractual day while students are on campus in ways that do not cost money and that result in little or no loss of instructional time. The issue of finding time has been addressed effectively and often in professional literature and is readily available for those who are sincerely interested in exploring alternatives. The National Staff Development Council alone has addressed the issue hundreds of times in its publications, and the www.allthingsplc.info website lists over 150 schools that have created time for teachers to collaborate in ways that don't require the school to be shut down, don't cost money, and don't result in significant loss of instructional time--adjusted start/end time with supervision by noninstructional staff until classes begin; shared classes; group activities, events, and testing; and more. Perhaps the administration and the teacher's union should take another look at these solutions before creating childcare hardships for so many parents in the district.
k January 25, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Very interesting! Thank you. My concern is the disruption to the children, especially at these very young ages. Routine is so important for them. Either a late start or early dismissal makes my child care situation more difficult, but my frustration is that there should be ways of getting enrichment done without detriment to the children.
Vicki Wilson January 25, 2013 at 04:22 PM
While personal preferences are interesting and childcare issues are important, my concern is the students are going to effectively lose 40 minutes of instruction. On paper, we won't because they will get it back in four 10 minute increments. However, in reality, those 10 minutes will likely disappear into thin air. We are already at the state-mandated minimum amount of instruction time. So, if any part of any day is to be taken away from the children, shouldn't logic suggest it be the least productive part of the week? Namely, Friday afternoons? Let's remember for whom the schools exist.
Scott January 25, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Given that none of the CTC members on the decision making committee (3/7ths of the committee) are attending it sounds like the Saturday meeting is an exercise in futility. If the CTC thought Friday was an option they would be there to hear about it.
LS January 26, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Scott, Isn't it 3/6ths? I am under the impression the committee is comprised of 3 CTC, 1 PTA, 2 Superintendent's Office? Did they add someone?
Abdul Javid January 26, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Can I meet you at the forum.. that is very good statement your made :-) Abdul Javid.. am running for April Election
Abdul Javid January 26, 2013 at 02:27 PM
I guess decision meeting committee eventually channelize this to board for vote rite?
Abdul Javid January 26, 2013 at 02:28 PM
I work in private company and some times my meetings go 6pm on friday.. i think every day is productive day and should be taken seriously
Abdul Javid January 26, 2013 at 02:32 PM
I agree Scott,, if we are looking for friday option.. saturday meeting may not be helpful but neverthless we need to show up as some of the parents here are driving and show of strenght will help.. this will make the board and administration caution on future decisions.. more deliberations will happen before any contract is in place affecting children ultimately.. guess show up if you can
D B L D January 26, 2013 at 06:56 PM
per article XXVII of the teachers contract this issue can be deleated from the contract. It requires agreement from the union and the District, but it can be removed. Contact everyone you can and let's get this issue truly resolved in the best interest of the students schedule. Let's remember for whom the schools exist. In the current schedule K-6th grade teachers have a 30 minute planning time 4 days a week and a full hour on the 5th day. Jr.High teachers have a 35-45 minute personal planning time and a 35-45 minute team planning time EVERYDAY. With an early release or late start a Jr. High teacher would have 2 1/4 hours of planning time and a 30 minute lunch in their 6 1/2 hour day. It will be hard for them to find the time to teach on that day. If the parents and students don't want it. The teachers are not in favor of it. Why are we doing it? ASK THE COMMITTEE Superintendent Scott Thompson and Deputy Superintendent James Garwood, Northwest Suburban Council PTA President Julie O'Hara, Lisa Nuss CTC Teachers Union President, Anne Bridges CTC Teachers Union Executive Director and Mary Beth Landerman CTC Teachers Union Exec Board Member. If the district isn't representing the interest of parents and the CTC isn't representing the teachers let them know they can leave anytime they want! DO WHAT'S RIGHT FOR THE STUDENTS or expect to be replaced.
Brenda Cyr January 27, 2013 at 01:08 AM
I attended the forum this morning. I witnessed a great deal of passion from parents and other stakeholders. My focus continues to be on how these changes will affect our children. What kind of emotional or educational turbulence will children experience as a result of scheduling changes? The changes in the Common Core Standards require that teachers need more training to teach to those new standards. The debate today was more about the "when" and "how" that time is allocated. Many parents are in favor of early release, some of late start, some say there should be no schedule changes. Many pointed out the fact that the district missed a great number of parent responses because the survey was sent via email and did not provide an opportunity for all families to respond. Mr. Thompson did say that another survey will go out and include a Friday early release option. I am anxious to see what proposals the committee comes back with after today's forum.
Diablo R January 28, 2013 at 06:16 AM
Brenda, I agree with you 100%. I would also add that I think people are majorly over-reacting. This is not that big of a deal. (see my earlier post). My wife and I have been following this for some time now, with my wife attending the public forum. For some reason, this has been misconstrued as the teachers wanting something more and it's simply not. As for the kids "not having structure", we are talking about a few minutes here and there. I know my kids won't care.
Abdul Javid January 28, 2013 at 02:19 PM
I attended forum..it was great discussion from different perspectives and couple of feedback from non D15 school. Contracts should avoid ambiguities if possible. Overwhelming opposition clause allowed this debate. Am sure it stated there because negotiations anticipated this. All of us respect and care about our teachers..their growth is our children growth. First thing i read on Friday in my private email is email update from 7th grade teacher.
Susan E. Gould January 29, 2013 at 02:31 PM
Today's Tribune has an article. Lisa Nuss (CTC) has finally emerged and issued comments. She is now defining the contract language which states "overwhelming opposition" to be (in her words) "extreme" opposition. She states that early release is a safety issue - but what about late start safety issues? She also states "we knew there would be scheduling issues for parents.... " Lisa Nuss has spoken. It shall be what the CTC union leaders demand, too bad for parents, families and children.
Bucephalus January 29, 2013 at 05:43 PM
LS made a very telling comment in that same article, which BPA kindly ignored. "In the big picture, it should be what's best for (the children) and what's best for them is what's best for their families." In this regard, what's best for the children is not what's best for their families. My taxes are going to the school district to provide the best education possible, not daycare. I want my money used well and appropriately and that means I want the kids to learn and receive a good education. I'll support whatever means achieve that end. What's in the best interest of the family is up to the family. What's in the best interest of education is up to the schools. I don't want the schools telling families what's best for them and I don't want families telling schools what's best for education.
Maryb January 31, 2013 at 02:46 AM
There is a school board election approaching. Each of the candidates should explain his/her view on the difference between "overwhelming" and "extreme".
Abdul Javid February 01, 2013 at 03:28 AM
Hi Maryb and all, Am one of the 9 candidate for April school board elections, i have been in touch with this issue, for me both overwhelming and extreme is same and vague , a poor choice of clause for a contract. If I was sitting in there, i would have suggested some quanitfialbe statements, like 60% of registered parents who participate in written survey or 70% oppose by online survey or a statement like, Committe should draft a addendum to the contract on guidelines on interpreting the "overwhelming" clause. our time having clarity on this, and I intend to work on avoiding to getting into these type of siuations. Both me and my wife signed Lisa's petition for Friday, we love and respect the teachers of our childer in 3rd and 7th grade, they are awesome. But what is vague is vague and community, teachers, administration coming together to solve is nothing wrong. Hope my position is clear on this. Thanks for asking. Abdul Javid

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