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Archive for the ‘OP/Ed’ Category

We have several concerns with the referendum that the Barrington School Board chose to place on the March 17 ballot, but for the sake of time, we’ll forego listing them all and get down to our primary objection, which happens to be our most timely one.

A few short months ago, District 220 issued the following press release:

“Barrington 220 is proud to announce it has been named one of the 2019 Top Workplaces in the Chicago area by the Chicago Tribune. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by research partner, Energage, LLC. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection. Click here to see the full list.”

Dr. Brian Harris, Superintendent of Schools, wrote the following of 220’s top workplace distinction:

“I am very proud of our staff for making Barrington 220 a great place to work. Their dedication and passion are reflected each day in the outstanding education we provide to our students.”

In fact, District 220 is the only school district listed on the Chicago Tribune’s list of Top 150 Workplaces in the Chicago area. We think that’s admirable, but the reality sets in all too quickly for parents, students, teachers, staff and, above all, taxpayers when considering another list.

In the most recent ranking of best high schools in Illinois by U.S. News and World Report, Barrington High School ranked 35th.

Those high schools ahead of Barrington in the Chicago area were: Adlai E Stevenson HS (6), Libertyville HS (10), Hinsdale Central HS (12), John Hersey HS (13), Deerfield HS (14), New Trier Township HS Winnetka 15), Glenbrook North HS (16), Lincoln Park HS (17), Prospect HS (18), Neuqua Valley HS (19), Buffalo Grove HS (20), Glenbard West HS (21), William Fremd HS (22), Vernon Hills HS (23), Glenbrook South HS (24), Lake Forest HS (25), Highland Park HS (26), Evanston Township HS (27), Westinghouse HS (28), Metea Valley HS (29), York Community HS (30), Naperville Central HS (31), Naperville North HS (32) and St. Charles North HS (34).

When considering the two lists we’ve shared, we must ask why District 220’s board and, more specifically, Dr. Brian Harris, can be so pleased with Barrington’s lackluster rank among other high schools.

There was a time when New Trier and Barrington High Schools were the gold standards to be considered when families were relocating to the Chicago area. As one can see, New Trier is still well respected, and we challenge our Board of Education to commit to trying to improve the Barrington High School that we once enjoyed and was so widely envied.

Passing the proposed referendum will not accomplish this. Perhaps when the Board begins such initiatives, we’ll look forward to endorsing them.

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Pritzker’s plan would replace Illinois’ flat tax with a graduated income tax projected to increase revenue by $3.6 billion a year, chiefly by hiking tax rates on the top 3% of all earners.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s speech Wednesday was billed as his annual budget address. But it was much more than that.

The budget part of the speech held few surprises and was far less ambitious than last year’s agenda. After a first year in which Pritzker passed gambling and cannabis legislation and a $45 billion infrastructure plan, the governor is taking a breather this year, relatively speaking.

The key part of Pritzker’s address was the governor’s pitch for a constitutional amendment that would enable him to change the state’s tax structure and make wealthy people pay more.

“This budget is a bridge to the future,” Pritzker said. And from there, he went on to lay out the benefits, as he sees them, from the graduated income tax.

Read more of Friday’s Tribune op-ed here if you missed it.

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A Barrington High School student addresses the 220 Board of Education February 18, 2020

The Barrington District 220 Board of Education met earlier this week, and as is the custom, the board opened their meeting to public comment. They received only one, but it was a good one:

Well, hi, my name is (student), and I am a junior at Barrington High School, and why I’m up here right now is because I’m aware that the staff members with Barrington two two-twenty are not drug tested and there has been a lot of rumors going around about teachers that have been doing illegal drugs, not like marijuana, like cocaine and meth and stuff like that.

I mean, I been hearing it going around, and there’s been a lot of rumors and most districts drug test their staff members, and I think that’s very important because these/they’re the ones supervising the children, especially in the elementary school. That’s all I have to say.”

Dr. Brian Harris, Superintendent of District 220, was asked if he had any comment before moving on. After rather long (and perhaps uncomfortable) pause, Harris stated:

Um…, Quickly…, you know there is no statutory retirement, um requirements of drug test staff, uh, except for buss drivers, AND we do drug tests on certain employees in the district that do drive our district vehicles. So, um, and it’s random, and it’s administered, so just so you’re aware.”

To view recording of the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, click here.

We don’t know if District 220 is prohibited from conducting drug testing due to the current teacher’s union contract(s). We don’t know if such testing is cost prohibitive (though it’s unlikely).

Whatever the reason, it’s inexcusable. We believe anyone employed by District 220 be subject to some form of drug testing, and the sooner this occurs, the better for all concerned.

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Detective Lana LeMons, of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, leads a rescue team down a hallway during a mass-shooting drill at Barrington High School on March 20, 2015. (Brian OMahoney / Pioneer Press)

Here’s a memory from my school days that I just can’t seem to forget.

From first grade on we were taught so-called air raid drills. We were told to duck under our desks, sit cross-legged on the floor, bend our heads down and cover our knees with our hands.

Sometimes we were told we could be in the hallway, and the older students — eighth-graders — would cover us.

This was the Atomic Age when the threat of nuclear war was a real possibility. My mother often recalled watching President Kennedy’s Cuban Missile Crisis speech, claiming when he finished she said, “We’re with you.”

Some adults had their own bomb shelters back then. But most were like my mom, willing to go up in a flash for the idea of America.

Read the rest of Randy Blaser’s column here.

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We will take the Federal Railroad Administration at its word that it wants to hear from us regarding how long we get stuck, repeatedly, at rail crossings in the suburbs.

And so, it is our civic duty to tell them.

We’re not being facetious. Being continuously hung up at crossings is a quality-of-life issue. At best, it can be inconvenient. At its absolute worst, it can be deadly, if police, fire and paramedics are prevented from getting to a scene — or a hospital — quickly.

The FRA has recently started a website asking people to report lengthy delays they experience at rail crossings, where a milelong freight is crawling past at the speed of … snails. 

Read the complete Daily Herald editorial here.

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Huntley School District 158 is expecting to flip the switch on a series of solar panels estimated to save the district $4.2 million in energy costs over the next 20 years by the end of March.

Last year, the district partnered with ForeFront Power, which agreed to design, permit, finance, install and maintain the solar energy project across all three of the district’s campuses. The renewable energy company had estimated that the installation of solar panels would offset 12.3 million pounds of carbon emissions in the first year.

Read more from the Northwest Herald here.

Editorial note: We applaud District 158’s forward thinking initiative and hope Barrington District 220 taxpayers take note before approving the March 17 referendum.

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Earlier this month, The Barrington Hills Observer celebrated our 10th anniversary. That’s right, we officially marked our launch on December 9, 2009.

Back then we had no idea what to expect, since there were no other independent websites in Barrington Hills. As time went on, some sites did crop up, but for the most part they were (or are now) Facebook variants with little original content.

Since our launch ten years ago, as of today there have been 2,576 postings to The Observer, and there have been 2,957 reader comments logged. Hundreds of residents subscribe to our postings, and the number continues to grow.

None of us imagined the reception we would get from our residents and visitors, and we’re sincerely grateful.

So today we recognize our readers, commentators and hundreds of loyal subscribers as the Shining Stars of the Decade.

We cannot thank you enough!

 

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