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Lake Forest School Board Presidents Respond to Tribune Article

District 67 School Board President Julia Wold and Lake Forest High School Board President Sharon Golan respond to the recent 'Chicago Tribune' article on Lake Forest schools.

A Chicago Tribune article published last weekend reflected on questionable spending by the Lake Forest school board on former superintendent Harry Griffith, especially concerning forgiveness of a $75,000 loan to purchase a house, large travel expenses and his school-paid-for car being given to him after he retired.

Lake Forest School Board Presidents — Julia Wold of District 67 and Sharon Golan of District 115 — have offered their responses to the article through a joint statement. 

“The Tribune article lacked comparative data from other school districts regarding compensation, retirement benefits, travel expenses, etc," Golan said in a statement released Monday. "For the past two decades countless financial reports and independent audits addressing this information have been presented at public board meetings. We have and will continue to provide detailed and accurate financial information to our constituents through our board and committee meetings, website, and local press.”

The statement from the presidents also said that the Tribune article was, "missing a preponderance of facts." The statement pointed to two specific instances, including that the Board of Education's loan to school official Jennifer Hermes had not been fully paid. The statement said that the loan yielded a financial benefit to the district, and that payments were in the fourth of a five year repayment schedule.

The statement also noted that Lake Forest Bank and Trust supplied banking services to the school because it was the best of the nine bids received, and no other reason. Griffith was on the board of the bank while he was superintendent.

"The story comingled over 18 years of information from multiple school boards, a local bank, the Caucus, local citizens, etc., into one sensationalized report," Wold said in the statement. 

For more news on local schools, be sure to 'like' the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Patch on Facebook

Lake Forest resident November 29, 2012 at 02:54 PM
I was pretty pissed at the teachers when they went on strike, now I am equally pissed at the Board after reading the Trib article. The response from Golan just put me over the top. I'm not sure how residents can get involved to demand accountability and transparency. I can only think of the following: 1. attend board meetings and start asking tough questions 2. join the caucus so I can be a part of the selection process? or can we just vote in new candidates during the next election cycle? 3. make a run for the board... Other than these 3 are there other things the residents can do?
Arthur Miller November 29, 2012 at 03:59 PM
One can always make constructive suggestions, no matter what official position exists. Patch offers blog space, where contributors are identified by name, and there good proposals could be made. The internet also could enable the boards to post ALL paid bills online, something that used to happen for the school districts--but in hard copy newspapers (not cheap, surely). If ALL paid bills, including hotel and restaurant receipts as well as salaries and loans made, etc. were posted, then this visibility itself would be a deterrent to pushing the envelope on benefits and alternative compensation. Or, perhaps, all bills to be paid. Transparency. A clear policy like this would also make it clear to any future candidates for leadership staff positions that this was the rule. But Lake Forest should remember that we do have to attract, through everything, capable leadership. Being a perennial Tribune "favorite" along with Cicero, Dolton and a few other places will not help attract the best people, support real estate values, etc. We do need to fix this. But the new board candidates know this, right? Arthur Miller, the Old Educator.
Louis G. Atsaves November 30, 2012 at 03:15 AM
It is becoming clearer with each passing day that our elected school boards failed to supervise Mr. Griffith during his tenure there. The response of the school board to the Tribune article was unsatisfactory. Time to dig in and get to the bottom of all this so that steps can be taken in the future to assure the public that this will never, ever happen again. The school boards and Griffith are ultimately accountable to us!
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French Teacher December 01, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Another subject came up during the District 67 School Board meeting that hasn’t yet been addressed. The educators who spoke referred to preparing students to become global citizens. Perhaps they should be preparing students to become American citizens in a global world. The distinction isn’t trivial and may be worthy of some discussion.

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