When Geneva Republicans Act Just Like Democrats

Does even the thought of busing some Mill Creek Elementary kindergarten students really constitute a communist plot? I don't think so!

The difference between Democrats and Republicans is … well, there really isn’t one. Unless you count the level of lunacy, that is. You see, Democrats tend to act like Democrats and Republicans act like Republicans only until they get elected, at which time they immediately start to act like Democrats.

They say they want less government, but what that really mean is they want less government as long as the other guys are in charge. And it trickles right down to the fine folks who pull a GOP ballot, because they also love to shriek “less government” until they’re the ones asked to make the sacrifice.

Though I’m sure you’ll give it your best shot, please don’t tell me I don’t know where the Republicans are, because the Mill Creek subdivision is absolutely rife with ‘em. Why, you can’t swing a dead cat out there without smacking a card-carrying member of the GOP right upside the head.

So I had to laugh what’s left of my shrinking middle-aged butt clean off when I read about the plaintive pleas to the School Board . With utterly solemn and completely straight faces, those parents said the only possible and plausible answer to the kindergarten enrollment bubble at is to hire more teacher(s).

Apparently, they’re imitating their hero, 14th District Congressman Randy Hultgren, who also wants to have his cake and eat it, too. Despite slamming presidential spending at every possible press release turn, he wants to keep the obsolete Fermilab facility open with your money because, well, it’s in his district and those people vote!

When eminently reasonable School Board member Matt Henry suggested that busing some Mill Creek kindergarten students to Fabyan Elementary might be a “no-brainer” because of the proximity of the school, you’d a thunk he’d just proposed a Geneva variation of the Hunger Games to thin out the pre-K herd.

One Mill Creek parent implored the board thusly; “No matter what the enrollment issue is, a single family should not be segregated from their immediate neighbors.” Others nearly wept as they described how their children would be scarred for life if they were separated from their friends as that yellow bus pulled away from the corner stop.

You’d think that District 304 was busing them into CPS inner city schools. “Segregated!?” Really? Where’s Martin Luther King when you really need him? I’m surprised they didn’t break into a chorus of We Shall Overcome right there in the middle of the board meeting.

For goodness sake people—get a grip. Fabyan Elementary is a just a mile away.

While I will stipulate that this busing scenario, when compounded by the real prospect of new 2013 school boundaries, means that some young charges might have to make three transitions in three years, adding new teachers’ salaries—at time when taxpayers are being forced out of their homes—is far more unconscionable.

God bless the School Board for seeing that!

And get another grip, people! These are kindergarteners and first-graders. They still enjoy school, they’re eminently adaptable, and they make friends even faster than most Republicans make enemies. They’ll do just fine, no matter what happens.

Pressed to make a quick ruling, the board members thankfully stood their ground, declaring that they’d like to see the enrollment numbers, determine the actual busing cost, and consider other alternatives to adding staff before making a decision.

“We have to be able to speak to the cost,” board member Bill Wilson said, “If it’s moving from Fabyan to Mill Creek, what is that plan going to look like? We need to have a couple plans in place and be able to tell people this is what’s going to happen.”

The School Board also agreed to take a serious look at the redistricting option as the ultimate solution to this elementary-school enrollment bubble.

One Mill Creek parent added, “I realize there is a budget, and that the state is not helpful. (But) any rational taxpayer would applaud that third section at Mill Creek.”

No! Any rational taxpayer would applaud Matt Henry’s all-too-obvious answer. To force District 304 taxpayers to foot the bill for unnecessary new teachers at one or two schools would be just another form of—you got it—welfare and, yes, socialism!

C’mon! Here’s a real opportunity to work together for the benefit of all District 304 taxpayers and make it reasonably palatable to everyone, but no! That GOP motto, “There is no sacrifice too small that we can’t whine about it,” has to rear its ugly head, even if it means, gasp, acting just like Democrats!

And if we can’t look past our own self-interest on something this simple, in this vastly small town, then God help us.

Colin C. July 03, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Many years ago I invented an "educational toy" designed to help children learn about the "real world". No matter how you put it together, it was wrong. Maybe I should give one to the poor people on the school board---no, wait, they have already learned that lesson.
Martina Natoma July 03, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Jeff, you forgot to mention that your best democrat pal, our EX Congressman, Bailout Bill Foster actually wasted 100M of taxpayer money to keep the lights on for his lunch buddies over at Fermi. And you ridicule Hultgren for cosying up to those voters? As to hiring more teachers, if Matt Henry (your school board deep throat) hadn't been wasting money paying librarians 120k a year, and giving out $150,000 in pre retirement bonuses, we could easily hire and reduce class size.
Jack July 03, 2012 at 04:22 AM
A Mill Creek problem should have Mill Creek solutions -- e.g., send your Kindergardener to a private school. Or, you could round up a few other MC Mothers to volunteer their time on a regular basis to assist in managing a larger class size. It's a home-grown problem -- fix it at home.
Colin C. July 03, 2012 at 02:56 PM
This is an interesting comment for several reasons. Although many in the USA scorn intelligence and science every technological advancement that we have ever made has been based on pure scientific research. Although the collider has been closed (due to the fact that we allowed the Europeans to build a bigger one) the lab is still producing great science. See today's Chicago Tribune for current results still being produced by data generated by the Tevatron. Take a look for yourself at what is going on there: http://www.fnal.gov/ It's well worth the money. Have you been to a spectacular theater or concert production recently? Ever wonder how they get all of those stage lights to sing and dance and paint the venue with such color? They use a very complex and highly specialized type of computer lighting control system. One of the most popular lines is made by the Electronic Theater Control Co. (ETC). This system was conceived, designed, and developed by our former Congressman, Bill Foster, when he was in his early 20s. He and his brother set up the company and did very well as businessmen. Bill then went on to become a scientist at FermiLab. During his tenure in Congress he was just about the only scientist and probably the most intelligent person on Capitol Hill. But of course in this Country we have a deep seated mistrust of highly intelligent people. Better to have some "good ol' boy" running things. After all, we can trust them!
Dwight Swartwood July 03, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Jeff Ward July 03, 2012 at 03:07 PM
You tell 'em Dwight!
Pat Ryan July 03, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I read this in Samuel L. Jackson's voice.
Martina Natoma July 04, 2012 at 12:55 AM
"...he wants to keep the obsolete Fermilab facility open with your money because, well, it’s in his district and those people vote!" Colin, I think your argument is with Jeff Ward. I was countering the liberal bias of Ward's criticism of Representative Hultgren. I will question what exactly Fermi has delivered to mankind in the last 45 years, other than to be an overpriced Illinois Bison farm. Your statement about the value of publicly funded 'pure scientific research' appears biased toward the never ending, seldom challenged, funding of research by taxation, and implies that privately funded research is inconsequential. Genome research, as privately funded, succeeded massively, while publicly funded NIH research labored under government umbrella.
Jessica Hauser July 04, 2012 at 02:00 AM
I'm a product of Geneva schools, and I think it's only appropriate to remind some and inform others that in the 1970's, Sixth Street School was closed - and those students were moved to either Fourth Street or Western Avenue. As a student who was one of many who was moved, I don't remember experiencing the supposed trauma that these students will now face. I'd bet that former schoolmates would agree. Siblings are separated from each other throughout their school aged years - as one moves forward to middle school, then high school, etc. Do I doubt that doing what has been proposed will be an inconvenience to parents and families? I do not. But let's be a bit more measured in the estimation of potential trauma, if that's truly the concern
Terry Flanagan July 04, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Well said, Jessica. Sometimes I think the kids are better adjusted than the adults. They have more resilience than we give them credit for and they seem to adapt to change far better than we do. The problem occurs when we transfer our anxieties to our kids. I doubt any kids will be traumatized by whatever action the board takes, but if there is some disappointment parents ought to use it as an opportunity to teach their children how to handle setbacks in their lives, keeping in mind that other children have had to deal with far more devastating situations.
karl July 04, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Colin, the problem with Bill Foster is that he failed to realize he was supposed to represent his constituency. I still laugh when I remember how he sprinted through he Swedish Days parade with a genuine look of fear in his eyes. I have no doubt that man was intelligent, but what a miserable excuse for a public servant!
Colin C. July 04, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Martina, I agree that private industry has the capability of doing great science and research (example: Bell Labs and the transistor) but they usually only are willing to invest when there is a pretty good chance of making a profit in the foreseeable future. Craig Venter did amazing work on the genome but his company stood to profit almost immediately from the effort. His work, and much of the research carried out by private companies is based on pure research and science done in government labs or universities receiving government funding. Otherwise no one would do it. Moving from pure science to applicable technology requires a partnership. We all benefit in the end. Karl, You seem to be saying that because Foster is not a very affable guy, perhaps uncomfortable in the role of "public figure" that he was a poor representative. Thank you for such a perfect proof of my original point. My Mom always told me to "beware of charming men because that's all they have to go on". I'll take an intelligent dork over a charming "good ol' boy" anytime. BTY: I attended several talks by Foster. I have never seen any candidate that had a better command of so many of the the issues. No matter what was asked of him he seemed to know the subject in amazing detail. I did not always agree with his decisions but I never doubted his in depth knowledge of the subject in question. That, in my experience, is very unusual for a politician.
Tim July 05, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Jeff W. "And now Mill Creek is going nuts over some proposed apartments because we know who rents apartments, don't we! " Aren't you the same person who whined about the noise associated with living near a "mini mall" and train tracks, and complained about the increased traffic for the proposed B&B? Pick a lane!
Jeff Ward July 05, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Yes! But no one out there is making that argument. They're saying things like "apartment dwellers don't really take ownership in their neighborhood." And if you don't know what that means, I'll be covering it next week. Not only that, but the planned apartments won't be in earshot of any of the houses anyway and I grew up in Evanston among all sorts of apartment building and they're generally no noisier than nearby houses. Jeff
Koshka July 05, 2012 at 06:22 PM
While the school board is at it, could they please space bus stops out a little more. The kids could practice walking to school by walking at least two blocks now.
Jeff Ward July 05, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Yes! I've been saying that for years. Not only that, but I see three buses come through my part of the neighborhood. I'm sure timing has something to do with it, but it does appear that some routes are redundant. Jeff
J.O. July 05, 2012 at 06:43 PM
"So I had to laugh ...when I read about the plaintive pleas to the School Board at last week’s meeting. With utterly solemn and completely straight faces, those parents said ..." So did you read about them, or did you see their uttery solemn and completely straight faces? Either way.... Often times when people move, they make their decision based on the quality of school their children will attend. They do their research, and narrow down where they are going to live based on the quality of school. Then, they simultaneously make what is probably the largest purchase of their life and a life changing move. Furthermore, people who currently live in the community and have children attending the current school, and like that school because of the quality or the convenience, or the sense of community, or all three - would like to keep sending the current students and their siblings to that school. Both these people pay their taxes, contribute to the community, and sacrifice with the idea that what they are doing is what is best for their children. So, when that idea is thrown a curveball because the school becomes overcrowded, people get their feathers ruffled. Is it unconscionable to bus some kindergarten students over to Fabyan? No, but it is understandable that parents might be upset that what they have worked for is being changed? My question is what are they going to do with the influx of 300+ apt fams and 100 more MC fams moving in? Another school?
Jeff Ward July 05, 2012 at 07:06 PM
J. I completely agree with one caveat. When they move, unless it's to a large city, they don't look at the school - they look at the school district. Note that those real estate ads says "Geneva Schools" or "St. Charles Schools" they don't say "Mill Creek Elementary." And what? Jeff Ward take literary license and use hyperbole? That almost never happens. I will defend to my death, these folks' absolute right to make their point to the school board. But I will also have some fun with them when they go completely over the top. THERE IS NO DISCERNIBLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MILL CREEK AND FABYAN SCHOOL. Your last point is a good one if Mill Creek homeowners manage to keeps their heads from exploding at the mere thought of those multi-unit domiciles. Jeff
J.O. July 05, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Jeff, We absolutely specifically looked at Mill Creek Elementary before moving there. Probably because we were moving (at the time - potentially) to Mill Creek - and the school was called Mill Creek Elementary. And we were told our children would be attending there. "THERE IS NO DISCERNIBLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MILL CREEK AND FABYAN SCHOOL." I'm sorry, could you say that a little bit louder? And maybe there is no difference - academically. But there is a discernable difference if you already have ties to one or the other. Goodwill has value. Location has value. Community has value. Again, busing one class of Kindergarten students one year isn't going to make a hill’s beans worth of difference. But, those kindergarten students become first grade students......Even if they are going to re-zone after this year (and I don't see how they can't), I don't know how adding 400+ families over the next 3 years or so is going to decrease the issue.
Jeff Ward July 05, 2012 at 08:20 PM
J. I believe the only reason you looked at that specific elementary school is you were moving there first, and then wanted to know about that specific school. Your decision to move into D304 was based on the district as a whole. Again, my point was the overreaction by a group of Republicans who want everyone else to make sacrifices, but them! As far as the apartments, I wouldn't consider that a done deal. Though Mr. Shodeen has quite a bit of political pull, he was relying on this whole thing staying under the radar. But now that it's out I'm not so sure it's gonna happen. Jeff
John Doe July 05, 2012 at 08:29 PM
Let’s take the easy way out and use the greater good to justify our laziness. If new lines need to be drawn then do it. The plucking concept is a waste of resources. Both Mill Creek and Williamsburg have the capacity to handle the students, the staff ( if some part time teachers are raised to full time which will need to be done in a year or two anyway as older teachers retire), and the headcount to justify the extra class, so what’s the problem? Mr. Ward, you want to save 50 grand here but you support 500 grand for a new football field? Your analogies are colorful and entertaining but not productive. Oh yeah, and to save the 50 grand we probably need to spend 20 grand for the additional bussing.
J.O. July 05, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Jeff, Its an overreaction - yes. I'm not sure if that is limited to Republicans. The whole country is that way. And really about the apartments? I thought that would be more of a done deal than the school decision. Why would Shodeen send me their proposal? And the conspiracy folks are in full tilt that both the apt meeting and the school board meeting is on the same night.....
Jeff Ward July 05, 2012 at 09:09 PM
John, That turf money is a donation specifically earmarked for that project. You and I don't have to pay for any of it. Having worked in fundraising, you cannot take the money and then do something else with it. I'm not even worried about the 50 grand. I'm simply trying to point out a brand of hypocrisy that loves to infect these affluent parts. Jeff
Jeff Ward July 05, 2012 at 09:11 PM
If you meant "why wouldn't Shodeen send me their proposal," that plan went before the county board which makes it FOIAble. Put more simply, send a Freedom of Information request to the county for the plan that was presented. Or, I bet you could call county board member Drew Frasz and he could provide one. There's no conspiracy, all it takes is a little effort! Jeff
Greg H July 06, 2012 at 04:38 AM
As a parent of a child affected by this hooplah, constructive comments without dispersions are needed most at this time. I am also interested in seeing that my tax dollars are not wasted. The essential issue appears to consist of 3 parts: - allocation of labor (teachers) - fixed building assts - a dynamic school age population that will always be out of synch with the first 2 parts. We need to create a solution that provides the children with a stable, consistent learning environment that allows them to remain with their friends over the course of their elementary education. At the same time, the solution must provide parents a predictable, sustainable education plan for every neighborhood in Geneva that acknowledges the emotional ties parents have with their neighborhood schools. Bussing is not the end of the world but needs to be done in a bussing solution is equal application in a neighborhood. The schools should be organized as K thru 2 in school A and 3 thru 5 in school B. This would allow the district to better allocate finite teaching resources and better maintain optimal class sizes. In the case of Mill Creek & Fabyan, the district could solve the K & 1st enrollment problems at both schools and consolidate undersized upper classes. If the population exceeds the capacity of the 2 buildings, it would be less traumatic to align education assets or justify the need for school expansion if necessary.
Greg H July 06, 2012 at 04:42 AM
This would allow the district to better allocate finite teaching resources and better maintain optimal class sizes. This should also be sustainable as class populations ebb & wane over time by allowing teachers to more efficiently track with the student population. So in the case of Mill Creek & Fabyan, the district could solve the K & 1st enrollment problems at both schools and consolidate undersized upper classes. If the population exceeds the capacity of the 2 buildings, you could then realign zoning to balance with neighboring schools set up in a similar fashion or justify the need for school expansion if necessary. If we do not solve this now in a thoughtful manner, we are certain to have the same emotional dialog in the near term for a completely different set of schools.
Greg H July 06, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Jack, You misunderstood my comments. We have 6 elementary schools. Half should do K-2 the other half do 3-5. No adding of schools only creating flexibility with finite education resources. If and only if the population grows to the point that the existing schools can not absorb students would you ever consider building again. First we MUST make the most efficient use of the assets we have. Reducing staff redundancy and under capacity classes is the necessary first step to keeping important programs while reducing waste.
Bob McQuillan July 06, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Greg H At first glance, your "out of the box" thinking of a k-2 & 3-5 system has merit and makes sense. The argument will be that Geneva operates under the neighborhood school concept and this would be a change in philosophy. But think about it, your concept would mean that everyone in the same age group would be together for 12 years. Aren't those the types of friendships that everyone wants for their kids? Maybe grades could even be mixed to serve the educational needs of the students! Here are some other "out of the box" thoughts: 1. offer all-day kindergarten at a cost to the parents. We certainly have the building space. Figure out what it costs to run a full day program and charge those parents that want it for their child. You could hire all the teachers you want as long as the program pays for itself. 2. solve the "perceived" over-crowding at the high school by making the current middle schools a 6 & 7th grade middle school and a 8 & 9th grade junior high school. Again you have plenty of space at the two middle schools since they are both @ 70% full to capacity. This would open up space at the high school for band rooms, music rooms, etc. 3. Take one of the elementary schools and make it a charter school offering advanced placement classes that the GEARS parents want. Children would need to test into the school and there would be an additional charge to each parent for their children to attend. Pay tuition and your gifted child has everything.
Bob McQuillan July 06, 2012 at 04:04 PM
4. Keep the gifted children in a current elementary school till 8th grade and then they move to the high school, still in a gifted program. It is my understanding that Geneva does not offer a truly gifted program at the high school level. Now we could. We could offer a Charter School gifted program within the walls of the current high school (if the 9th graders were moved to one of the current middle schools). There are many things that can be done within our current framework but people need to realize one thing ... we can't sustain the current spending levels in the Geneva School District. Like it or not, Geneva is a graying community and seniors can not afford ever increasing school taxes. If parents want "the extras" for their child, they must be willing to pay for them. We can no longer expect those without children in the district to support lavish spending. If, as many say, they moved here for the schools and expect to pay higher taxes then they need to pay for the services their child is receiving. To date, I haven't seen any real solutions to our financial problems from the administration or school board other than to keep increasing taxes. I have offered the 5-5-5 plan to cut spending and now I'm offering 4 ideas to restructure how we use our facilities. They might not be viable but at least they are ideas. Kicking the can down the street isn't going to work. We need ideas & solutions not cries that our students need more and more. WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY
Chris B July 06, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I might be mistaken but I thought I read that the total cost of the turf field was a little over $1,000,000. Was all of that funded through private donation or did I misread the total figure?


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