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220 Green

The Barrington District 220 Board of Education will be holding two meetings today.  Both notices were posted to the district website sometime after noon yesterday (those familiar with the Illinois Open Meetings Act take note).

A special meeting of the Board will be held starting at noon at the District Administrative Center, 515 W. Main St.  beginning with closed session.  A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

The Board then meets again at 7 PM at the same location for their second regular monthly meeting. A copy of that agenda can be viewed here. This meeting will be live-streamed on YouTube.

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bhpd-logo-2-2021The Barrington Hills Park District Board will hold their regular monthly meeting this evening in-person and via Zoom at 7:00 PM. Some of the topics for discussion include:

  • Planting larger trees for outdoor arena area
  • Trainer Registrations: Who qualifies as a trainer?
  • Choose Board Member to review and select new Monitor Candidate

A copy of their agenda can be viewed here. Instructions for accessing the meeting remotely can be found here.

As a reminder, public bodies that have a website must post the agenda of any regular meetings of the governing body (i.e. County Board, Board of Trustees, Board of Commissioners, School Board, etc) at least 48 hours prior to said meeting per the Open Meetings Act.

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two-horsesThe Equestrian Commission meets this evening for the first time in a year at 6:30 PM. The agenda the commission submitted (and NO, we are NOT kidding) is as follows:

  • Public comments
  • [Vote] Minutes – June 1, 2020 (None providedas of this posting)
  • Old Business As presented (None presented as of this posting)
  • Old Business As presented (None presented as of this posting)
  • Adjournment

Click here to view and download the agenda as submitted.

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JB GerrymanderingThis decade’s redistricting process in Illinois has been marked by stumbles and self-serving partisanship.

The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the Census Bureau from providing the detailed count of populations needed to accurately apportion districts of equal population, as required by the state and federal constitutions. But the Illinois General Assembly went ahead anyway, drawing predictably partisan maps.

Despite his repeated promises to veto any partisan maps, on June 4 Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed both the gerrymandered legislative and judicial maps lawmakers sent to his desk.

Legislative map

The Illinois Constitution establishes deadlines for the General Assembly to pass a plan for redistricting their own districts. Members must pass a plan by June 30, or the responsibility is delegated to a bipartisan commission made of four Democrats and four Republicans.

If that commission cannot approve a map with five votes by Aug. 10, a tie-breaking ninth member is chosen at random from the names of one Democrat and one Republican by Sept. 5. The expanded commission then has until Oct. 5 to file a redistricting plan approved by five members.

With the complete census numbers delayed until mid-to-late August and the tabulated numbers not available until the end of September, Illinois Democrats are left with a choice: draw the maps in the General Assembly without the complete census data, or let constitutional deadlines pass and send the redistricting responsibility to a bipartisan backup commission, and ultimately to a 50-50 chance of a Republican tiebreaker. The Democrats chose to use incomplete data.

Democrats in the General Assembly revealed their proposed maps after working behind closed doors. According to public hearings held on those maps, in lieu of complete census data Democrats used data from the 2019 American Community Survey. Those estimates are based on surveys of communities over the course of five years.

Read much more here.

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Alex Stroble (seated at center) seen submitting his public comments to District 220 Board of Education members at Tuesday night’s meeting.

By way of setup, you may recall Alex Strobl, who was introduced to Observer readers during the April Board of Education election. Alex had been a candidate for the BOE but pulled his name from the ballot after some unfortunate interactions with sitting BOE members (Kazmier, Bradford and  Altshuler) attempting to groom candidates for the upcoming election. Strobl spoke out against the hypocrisy of those members in criticizing Suburban Action candidates, Karam, McGonigal and Wang for running in a PAC where sitting member and candidate Bradford was running with an agenda endorsed by the BEA teacher’s union and had been part of a selection committee for candidates, along with Kazmier and Altshuler, that included interviews of candidates Strobl and Ding. Following some public personal attacks on his character and misstatements by those sitting members, Strobl came out with his own public statements explaining the actions of Kazmier, Bradford and Altshuler during the candidate selection process. Thereafter, these three BOE members have on multiple occasions, without notice to Strobl or to the public via the posted agenda, taken the opportunity to discuss Strobl at great length in front of the public during BOE meetings, and without providing Strobl an opportunity to respond or defend himself. Altshuler took another such moment to publicly criticize Strobl following the swearing in of the new BOE on May 4th. This past Tuesday, May 18th, Strobl appeared at the meeting of the District 220 Board of Education, and attempted to read a response into the record. The following was spoken by him during his 3 minute allotted time for public comment:

“Hello my name is Alex Strobl and I am here today in person to respond to the multiple times my name, motives, perspective and character have been discussed, unannounced, in this forum, the last of which was May 4th. I am requesting the exact same time that Barry Altshuler used during the May 4th Board meeting. The nine minutes Barry spent reading his prepared statement was not on the agenda nor was I informed that I would again be discussed. The exactly nine minutes I am requesting mirrors the time Barry was provided but does not include the time that was spent discussing me during the April 6th board meeting; together that would total over thirty minutes. Over thirty minutes our elected school board spent discussing a community member who was not present nor given the opportunity to be present. I am requesting that time be provided now, and only a third of it.

I ask that you hold a vote to allow me the nine minutes requested.”

After this request, the BOE members looked mutely upon Strobl, providing no response to his request, so he proceeded:

“I am requesting that my full response statement be put into the Board notes public comment section. I apologize for speaking quickly, but some of the members of this Board seem to want to silence me. To anyone interested, I will submit the full response in the area papers as well as several Barrington Facebook groups. I am here to again share with our Barrington 220 Community that I stepped forward, sharing my letter, because of the hypocrisy I witnessed during a non-partisan school board election. As I have stated, Barry Altshuler, a board member, put me in touch with a group that acted in a capacity to vet, select and prepare candidates along ideological lines. On that call, was the School Board President at the time (Penny Kazmier) and the School Board Vice President (now President Sandra Bradford). During that meeting Sandra was never asked any questions, was introduced as a Board member, and then at the end of my interview several members stayed on to provide additional help for the group. Sandra was one of those people… here is the Zoom Call photo (holding up a paper). Candidates don’t stay on to help! Again, this was a call that I was directed to by Barry and where Penny was present. Any reasonable person can see what’s going on here and what has transpired. This hypocrisy was my motivation. The rules can’t be different for some. No school board members, which are non-partisan positions, should be a part of such things. It violates the Board’s own Code of Conduct. Barry, to compare this behavior to putting up lawn signs is disingenuous and laughable.

Members of this board have questioned the legality of what some board members have done. They have also questioned my integrity, my intention, my character, my timing, and my ability. And they won’t even give me the same time to respond. All of these things are meant to distract from the unethical behavior they engaged in. For example, much to my surprise during the May 4th meeting, Barry Altshuler decided to use the Board’s platform to distance himself and talk about me without ever letting me know. Barry posited that I must be upset with him. I was never upset. I was disappointed. And I continue to be disappointed. Just at the last meeting the Board disregarded their own written policy that encourages participation of community members in the decision-making process when at that meeting they rushed to fill Board positions which do not reflect the diversity of this community and did this without community input. They held public comment until after those positions.

(Bell rings)

Sounds like my time is up. I want to again thank those who stood up for me, Mike Shackleton, Angel Wilcox and Katie Karam. I’ll be sticking up for myself from hereon out. Do not mention my name again without calling me first.”

Whereupon Strobl provided the remaining script of his comments (see below) to the BOE secretary. Member Wang asked President Bradford if the Board was permitted to give Strobl more time, which she glossed over saying the Board would need to vote on it and that they needed to take the comments of the remaining public first. Two other residents spoke and without entertaining a vote on Member Wang’s request to allow Strobl more time, President Bradford called public comment closed.

Now, Strobl’s written comments submitted to the BOE on May 18:

“I am here to again share with our Barrington 220 Community that I stepped forward, sharing my letter, because of the hypocrisy I witnessed during a non-partisan school board election. Specifically, a Daily Herald article published on March 27th decrying party politics in Barrington’s local elections, when through experience, those pointing the finger were actively engaged in partisan politics, with the power of three board members (to include the president and vice president) and in secret. This hypocrisy was my motivation. The rules can’t be different for some.

As I have stated, Barry Alstshuler, a board member, put me in touch with a group that acted in a capacity to vet, select and prepare candidates along ideological lines. On that call, was the School Board President at the time (Penny Kazmier) and the School Board Vice President (now President Sandra Bradford). Both were there in their board member capacity.

Members of this board have questioned the legality of what some board members have done. They have also questioned my integrity, my intention, my character, my timing, and my ability. All of these arguments are meant to distract from the unethical behavior they engaged in.

I did not want to distract from this core point, namely the unethical and hypocritical behavior. As a result, I did not attend the April 6th meeting. I had made public my experience and felt that was enough. I want this unethical behavior to stop – or at the very least the hypocrisy of it to stop – and for the people of this community to be aware of what is going on in Barrington 220. The April 6th board meeting was an embarrassment. I want everyone to know that I called Penny several times during that meeting and sent her a text at 9:25PM that read “Hi Penny, I’m happy to come down right now and talk to you. This is not right.” I never received a response or a follow up. Everyone who was watching the meeting that night got to see, on full display, some of what I encountered in my interactions. The brazenness and victimization of some of the members was both shocking and sad. That said, in my mind there was a new board elected, people knew what happened, and it was time to move on.

Apparently that sentiment was not shared. And truly, to my surprise, during the May 4th meeting, Barry Altshuler decided to use the Board’s platform to continue to again have an open discussion, but not about the issue at hand, rather about me. It was a thinly veiled attempt to clear himself from any responsibility by shifting focus, and trying to close everything up. This is reprehensible and one of the many glaring hypocrisies of some of the members of the board. The same man who minutes prior lectures others on “no surprises – we have to avoid blindsiding each other” and “you should have come to hear my side – nobody asked me” uses the power of his platform and tax payer time to read a prepared and disparaging character statement about a community member. This was not on the agenda and I was not informed that I would again be discussed by the board. What Barry, Sandra, and Penny did was wrong and people have a right to know what their elected members are doing.

Barry, in the statement you read on May 4th, you questioned how I felt about you. You posited that I must be upset with you. I was never upset. I was disappointed. I was disappointed that the man who took care of my children – who reached out to me to ask me to run – never had the common decency to follow up with me because I was not part of his, or his group’s, agenda. I was disappointed that after my call with Penny – when I got to see behind the curtain – I got to see that all those people who felt their voices didn’t matter – were right. I was disappointed to see the meeting on April 6th and the brazenness of unethical members. I was disappointed that at no time did those three board members reach out to me – except for Penny – and then only to compel me to write a follow-up statement to free her of responsibility from her own actions.

I continue to be disappointed while watching the board meeting on May 4th as the board disregarded their own policy manual which (in section 3:10) states that the board values “participation by students, staff, parents and community members in the decision making process.” Yet at that meeting the four of you rushed to fill board leadership positions which do not reflect the diversity of this community. You did this without community input, holding public comment until after you filled those positions. And then I was further disappointed – but not at all surprised at this point – to watch the positions be filled straight down the 4-3 vote to include removing Angela Wilcox, a respected board member, from her current position without any discussion. Again, no discussion, no community input, just straight down the line.

Finally, I was disappointed that after this power grab Barry felt it was appropriate to use his position and time to once again speak about me – to speak at me – without ever having the common decency to inform me – a community member – that this was going to happen. These are the people that are writing Diversity and Inclusion statements – people who don’t want real diversity or inclusion. These are the people that claim to want the community to come together and then vote a straight line without any discussion that, once again, not only removes an experienced and respected member of the board from her previous position but selects a president who misrepresented her role in all of this.

Sandra has written that she was invited as a candidate to this group meeting. During that meeting, she was never asked any questions, was introduced as a board member and then at the end of my interview and after I was asked all of the ideological questions I previously referenced, several members stayed on to provide additional help. Sandra was one of those people – here is the Zoom call photo. Candidates don’t stay on to help. A call again that I was directed to by Barry and where Penny was present. Any reasonable person can see what’s going on here and what has transpired.

Attack and belittle me all you want. It does not erase what happened or what is going on in this community. Barry Altshuler put me in touch with what he called a “progressive” group that he said would help get me elected. On that call both the President (Penny Kazmier) and Vice President (and now president Sandra Bradford) were present in their board capacity. This was a meeting where a single candidate was being vetted/chosen/selected/prepared along partisan lines. At no time did the board members recuse themselves or distance themselves from what was happening – during or after.

No school board members, which are non-partisan positions, should be a part of such things. It violates your own Code of Conduct (2:80:1 & 2:80:2). It’s at best poor form and at worse an overstepping of power. Barry, to compare this behavior to putting up lawns signs is disingenuous and laughable.

The board members I mentioned – to include Barry – talk about the fact that there was 11 candidates and that I could have run with any other group. But the fact is that at least three of those 11 candidates never had a chance – they just didn’t know it. They were up against your machine and a group of parents forming in response to it. You can see that clearly by who actually got elected. And let’s think through that election. Even if I won, I did not want to lose time with my family and work so that I could show up to meetings where four members would railroad an agenda – like you just did in filling those new positions – and then put me behind a banner so I didn’t even show up on camera like what happened to Katie Karam. I am thankful there are people to fight the good fight on this board but I could see the writing on the wall.

I wanted to work with community members from all walks and all perspectives to try to solve problems for our children and community, not spend four years bearing witness to hard lined agendas. Barry and Sandra talk about unity and seemingly take every action to further divide the community. They didn’t start this polarization but they further stoked it – as evidenced by past actions and now Sandra as president and Angela removed. You seem to have no interest in uniting this community and your actions demonstrate that at every step.

I agree that it is in everyone’s best interest for the board to unify. That said, teams are built on trust not retreats. And the foundation of trust is honesty. It was never about good candidates or diverse perspectives; it was about the right agenda. It is this hypocrisy that I am here to highlight. Community members attacked other current members on this board for working with groups in the community while they were themselves doing it, in secret, and with the power of three members of the board to include the president and vice president.

I own my ignorance. I thought non-paid, non-partisan, board positions would attract a different kind of attention. In talking with people across this community I think many others suffer from that same naiveté. No one should have any misgivings about what’s going on here moving forward.

I want to again thank Mike Shackleton and Angela Wilcox for sticking up for me on April 6th and I want to thank Katie Karam for sticking up for me again on May 4th.

I will be sticking up for myself from here on out.

Do not mention my name again without calling me first. Thank you for your time.”

To watch the portion of the video queued to the comments, click here.

Related:So you wanna run for Barrington CUSD 220 Board?

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BOE

The District 220 Board of Education meets tonight at 7 PM. The meeting will be held in person at the District Administrative Center. A copy of their agenda can be viewed here.

The number of people in the room will be limited to 50, as suburban Cook County and Lake County are in Phase 4 under the State’s Restore Illinois Plan. The livestream of all meetings are viewable via the Board’s YouTube channel found here.

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bhpd-logo-2-2021The Barrington Hills Park District Board will hold their regular monthly meeting this evening via Zoom at 7 PM. Some of the topics for discussion include:

  • Swearing in New Commissioners
  • Pickleball Court at Countryside School
  • Hanover Park Tennis Club use of tennis courts at Countryside School
  • Review of outdoor arena options and next steps

A copy of their agenda can be viewed here. Instructions for accessing the meeting can be found here.

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BEA

A wave of incumbents will return to school boards across the suburbs, alongside some newcomers, amid ongoing criticism over how school leaders have handled pandemic learning and the gradual resumption of in-person classes — an issue that sparked some of the most contentious elections in recent memory.

Emotions ran high this election season due to the pandemic affecting communities across the suburbs differently, as local school boards struggled to keep pace with evolving health guidance while facing criticism from parents and teachers alike.

In District 220, where 11 candidates were vying for four board seats, two of the winners — newcomer Erin Chan Ding and incumbent Sandra Ficke-Bradford — were endorsed by the Barrington Education Association. But union-backed candidates Lauren Berkowitz Klauer and Thomas J. Mitoraj lost.

Instead, voters picked Katie Karam and Steve Wang — endorsed by the GOP-backed ACTION PAC, or the Advancing Change Together in Our Neighborhood political action committee. They, along with fellow slate member Malgorzata McGonigal, criticized the school board for staying in remote learning last fall.

“It was more emotionally intense than any election that I remember for Barrington 220,” said Chan Ding, of South Barrington. “When to reopen schools, the approach that we should take, and the national partisan nature of that debate also filtered into our local school board election. There was an anti-teachers union sentiment that we have never seen this intensely before.”

Chan Ding said that by electing two candidates each from opposing camps, voters have signaled their desire to have a wide range of viewpoints and ideologies represented on the board. “We know that our approaches are different and at the same time we know that our goals are similar,” she said.

The divisiveness seen in this election has been long prevalent in the community, said Wang, of Barrington.

“The goal is to make sure that we provide the best possible environment for our children and to make sure that our community heals from all of this divisiveness over the last several years,” he said.

Read more here.

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220 Board 2019

Members of the Barrington School District 220 Board of Education Barry Altshuler, from left, Mike Shackleton, Sandra Ficke-Bradford, President Penny Kazmier, Superintendent Brian Harris, Angela Wilcox, Gavin Newman and Leah Collister-Lazzari are pictured July 30, 2019. Shackleton, Ficke-Bradford, Kazmier and Newman were up for reelection in 2021. Kazmier and Newman did not run. Ficke-Braford unofficially retained her seat in the April 6, 2021 election while Shackleton did not. (Steve Sadin / Pioneer Press)

One incumbent and three others who would be new to the Barrington School District 220 Board of Education are emerging as top vote-getters in Tuesday’s election, according to unofficial results from the Cook, Lake and Kane county clerks’ offices.

The district, with its headquarters in Barrington, serves surrounding towns that are in part or all of each county. Also, a small portion of the district is in McHenry County but unofficial results do not include any totals from McHenry because of what the clerk’s office there called “some anomalies in [Tuesday’s] unofficial election results.”

The top four vote-getters include incumbent Sandra Ficke-Bradford, the current board vice president, with about 12% of the combined Lake and Cook county vote, and newcomers Erin Chan Ding, with about 13%, and Katie Karam and Steve Wang, both with about 12% of the vote, according to unofficial results from each county clerk’s office.

The race had been rancorous, with charges by the League of Women Voters and others of strong partisan involvement in what some expected to be a non-partisan race, and complaints by some parents and candidates over what they saw as unseemly endorsements from the Barrington Education Association teachers union. The union endorsed Ficke-Bradford, Chan Ding, Klauer, and Thomas Mitoraj.

Ficke-Bradford said she wasn’t sure if the BEA endorsement hurt or helped. Chan Ding said she thought the endorsement had little effect overall, but she found it personally affirming that the teachers group saw her as someone with whom they could work.

Read more of the Barrington Courier-Review report on the 220 election here.

Editorial note:  So far, the Daily Herald, Barrington Courier-Review/Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times or the Northwest Herald have not commented on what Alex Strobl shared with this and other publications last weekend.

Additionally, forty-five minutes of Tuesday evening’s Board of Education meeting were devoted to the topic (See “District 220 Board discusses Strobl documents”), so we’re really looking forward to their reports (though we’re not holding our breath).

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BEA 1

Though results are not yet final, the 220 teachers union was only successful in getting two of four candidates (Erin Chan Ding and incumbent Sandra Ficke-Bradford) elected to the District 220 Board of Education.

Voters throughout the Northwest suburbs sent educators a message Tuesday — for the most part endorsing the gradual reopening approach most districts have taken in response to the pandemic.

In school district after school district, candidates who put a priority on listening to the health experts were elected, apparently often with the help of teachers unions.

This was the case in Glenbard High School District 87, Stevenson High School District 125, Palatine-Schaumburg Townships District 211 and Northwest Suburban High School District 214.

But there were exceptions: In Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 and Barrington Unit District 220, voters split their choices between measured reopening candidates and those who were strongly critical of the remote learning environment.

Voter concerns about the impact of the pandemic on local students did not turn out many incumbents.

Out of 34 incumbents in contested races on school board ballots throughout the Northwest suburbs, only three appeared to have been defeated, according to unofficial tallies — Janice Krinsky in Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59, Michael Shackleton in Barrington Unit District 220, and Aurora Austriaco in Maine Township High School District 207.

Unions openly backed candidates in Glenview Elementary District 34, Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59, Glenbard High School District 87, Palatine-Schaumburg Townships High School District 211, Northwest Suburban High School District 214, and Glenbrook High Schools District 225, among others.

Those union candidates were successful virtually everywhere. The lone exception was in District 220 where union-backed candidates Lauren Berkowitz Klauer and Thomas J. Mitoraj lost.

Read more here.

Related:Here’s a SHOCKER! District 220 “TEACHERS UNION endorses 4 candidates of the 11 running for a seat on the Barrington School District 220 board.” Follow the money…

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