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QuickStory: New Voices Come to School Board's Defense, Criticize TaxFACTS

Monday night's School District 304 board meeting has a new wrinkle, as public speakers show support for board members, counterpoint to TaxFACTS citizens group.

Geneva School Board members continued their relative silence, but Geneva TaxFACTS members weren't the only voices at Monday night's School Board meeting.

For the past several months, the public-comment portions of board meetings frequently have been dominated by questions or criticism from members of the citizens group or others concerned about school spending and the so-called "" issue.

The man-bites-dog aspect of Monday's meeting were the unusual number of pro-board, anti-TaxFACTS comments.

Debbie Hanson told the board she asked to be removed from TaxFACTS' e-mail list, in part because there is too much of an "us" and "them" attitude or mindset.

Hanson said she has no problem with criticism and scrutiny of the School Board, but "it should not be a witch hunt ... but rather about problem-solving."

Hanson said she is a School District employee in the category of "support staff."

"I bring home less every year," she said. "Is TaxFACTS aware of this? (The salaries of) everyone but the teachers have been frozen. We have been cutting for five years. (Yet,) what I listen to in the meetings and read in the newspapers is that nothing has been done to reduce expenses.

"There is no 'Them,' " she added. "Once we get past that, maybe we can start doing some good."

John Rice said he and his family did not move to Geneva for the shops on Third Street but for the quality of the . "You guys have taken some pretty hard hits in the past few weeks," he said. "But we're lucky to have a board as qualified as you guys." 

"If you start trying to take these draconian cuts, you’re not going to make up that money by charging more at football games … you’re going to have to cut programs. I’m not looking for comments, (but) I did want to step up because I think it’s important members of the community speak their minds."

Kate Bochte talked about a friend who is a teacher.

"She feels beaten up—not by the board but by critics of the board," she said, adding that the result could be that the best teachers will choose to leave Geneva. "We cannot afford to lose good teachers like this, and they do not deserve to be beaten up by these critics any more than the School District and support staff need to be beaten up by critics."

Ron Stevenson suggested that the board consider changing its meeting structure to be a little more like that of the , where aldermen debate issues and the public is invited to express opinions in open discussion prior to a vote.

The School Board invites public comments in an early part of the meeting and again later in the meeting, often after action has been taken. Public comments are limited to five minutes.

"(City Council members) consider the input before they make a final decision," he said. "People feel like they have a chance to be heard. Here, we don’t feel we have a chance to be heard."

jim June 13, 2012 at 10:30 PM
A few meetings ago one of the Board members (Mat Henry) stated he may have to work another 20 years do to the high tax rate we pay in 304.My impression was the rest of us shouldn't complain because he was willing to make the sacrifice.Well Mr. Henry,Im 74 years old and living on a fixed income , I don't have another 20 years , My life is winding down and its to bad my wife and I must move from a city we had planned on making our final home. Hope you enjoy the bed your helping to make later down the road.
Ignatius Reilly June 15, 2012 at 03:17 AM
These lazy teachers and their summers off are the main reason for thisi whole problem. Pay freeze? How about pay cut. They should make no more than a McDonald's fry cook. Just the other day I saw a Geneva teacher in a new car, with a sunroof and leather seats! Really!? Do they provide the same service to our society as lawyers, lobbyists, hedge fund managers, and political consultants? Those are the real heroes. They deserve our respect.
Kyle June 15, 2012 at 03:32 AM
^Haha, enjoy your summer off 'Ignatius'
John R June 17, 2012 at 02:52 AM
@ Jeff and Justin thank you for the kind words. @ lance I'm sorry you had to move. But I do believe that people are still moving to this community because of the school district. I've been randomly looking at property taxes and the tsunami wasn't really all that horrible. But if you no longer have kids in school it does sort of stink to have to pay so much. You should have moved to the east side our taxes are still reasonable. Others need to speak up at the board meetings. The taxFacts folks have been making comments for years. They are very comfortable at the podium. Get up there and give it a whirl. I'm not going to say it was a pleasant experience but I did survive. John Rice
Lifelong Citizen July 06, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Not everyone who chooses to live in Geneva is here for the school system. I would attend school board meetings in support of taxfacts if I wasn't working 18 hour days to pay my property tax bill, which primarily funds the public schools, in which I do not enroll children.

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