Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Did they delete the Fourth Amendment from the Constitution?
At the risk of falling prey to that dreaded journalistic practice Rick Nagel calls “navel gazing,” I’ll let you in on an ongoing internal debate. Do I have the intestinal fortitude to tackle a topic where I will, once again, be the lone voice of reason in a vast wilderness? Is it truly nobler to suffer “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them?” Ah well! As comedian Eddie Murphy said in his famous “Kill My Landlord” poem, “What da heck!” And you wonder why so many columnists turn to Jose Cuervo. And this time the topic is the School-District-304-sanctioned high and middle school drug searches. I don’t care what any parent says. I don’t care what any school administrator…
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Officials plan to spend a month whittling capital improvements and other expenses as property tax bills soar.
School District 304 Board of Education members Monday voted to postpone approving the tentative 2011-12 budget for a month so they can look for more ways to squeeze it. “The extraordinary times we’ve looked to save money for the past several years are here,” said board member Bill Wilson. “We do have some contingencies in there (that can be cut.) I’d like to try to let taxpayers see their tax bills increase by single digits instead of double digits next year.” Many residents voiced their concerns about the this year’s sharp rise in property taxes, most of which go to the School District. Among them was Geneva Township Assessor Denise Lacure, who warned that taxes will soar beginning next year, when the district must start paying off the …
Saturday, May 21, 2011
For eighth-graders, this is the last band concert of middle school.
For my daughter Tricia, Thursday's band concert at Geneva Middle School North was the last of her middle-school years. It's a little milestone, not something for a Hallmark card (see Jeff Ward's column), but there's always a little tug for parents. I'm feeling that tug especially hard, because I missed the last three of the four songs. (And I'm pretty sure I heard every other band concert song she performed at GMS North.) See, Tricia's older sister Kathryn goes to Operation Snowball. That's the group of kids who get together every week at the Regional School Superintendent's Office to just hang out and celebrate life in a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle. Anyway, the Snowball meeting was from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the high school this …
Friday, May 20, 2011
Say it ain't so! From May 21 to the birthers to terrorists, the real abomination comes in the form of a Hallmark Card.
To quote one of my favorite music groups, “It’s the end of the world as we know it.” And it’s not Sarah Palin, rappers at the White House, Arnold and Maria, Newt Gringrich’s wide-eyed wife, Donald Trump, tornados, earthquakes, the Mayan Calendar, May 21st, or any of the other obvious signs of impending Armageddon. No! As is always the case, it’s the smaller shifts that ultimately signal the demise of western civilization. And this one is truly terrifying. After recently returning from the Batavia Target store, my lovely wife turned to me and said, “You won’t believe what I just saw!” “What?,” I inquired. “Preschool graduation cards!,” she exclaimed. And just like the birthers, who remain steadfast in their belief the president wasn’t born …
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
E-mailed threat wants dean to "suffer and die." Former student held on bond and undergoes risk assessment.
An 18-year-old from Geneva has been charged with sending a threatening e-mail to a Geneva High School dean. Daniel Diomedes was arrested earlier this month on a warrant charging him with disorderly conduct. He remains in Kane County Jail on $45,000 bail. Prosecutors allege Diomedes sent an e-mail on April 26 "stating he wanted (the dean) to suffer and die," according to court records that describe Geneva High School as Diomedes' former school. The district does not comment on student-related matters, such as when Diomedes' attended the school, a spokesman said Wednesday. Diomedes was arrested May 3 after a judge issued the arrest warrant. His attorney briefly sought a bond reduction but withdrew the request as Diomedes undergoes a risk …
Monday, May 16, 2011
Public schools are expensive things to run—and when one’s own children are long-ago grown and gone, writing that check can perhaps be maddening. But my late father, hardly a magnanimous sort, had an intriguing take on the matter.
When I spoke at my father’s funeral in October 2009, I fear that some of the attendees may have been a bit taken aback at my honest assessment of the man—especially as I contrasted him with my mother, who had died 14 years before him. Though Lois Noel Wehrmeister was never a regular churchgoer (during my lifetime, anyway), she lived her life by the Scriptural admonition that we are all our brothers’ keeper; that to do His will, we must always seek to help those less fortunate. Mom gave thousands of dollars to relatives and friends who were down on their luck, as well as to people she barely knew—and she would have given away many thousands more if my father hadn’t put a stop to it. She wasn’t this way out of any sense of obligation; it's …
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Residents and board members call for review of the five-year plan for improvements, repairs to district buildings.
School District 304 Board of Education members might trim a proposed $6.38 million capital improvement plan before approving it, officials agreed Monday. “I know you can feel the pain of the people in this community. The economy is brutal right now,” said board member Mike McCormick. “Is there any way we can backload some of this?” The five-year plan can be stretched and cut back to reflect changing economic priorities, said Facility Operations Manager John Robinson. “This is a very fluid plan. Some things can be pushed out or repaired instead of replaced. But at some point, if you try to save a dime now it will cost you a dollar later,” he said. Nearly $2.4 million would be spent repairing and upgrading heating, ventilation and air-…
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
May's a busy month at schools across the country, and Geneva is no exception.
Ah, it’s May. It’s a beautiful month, when spring not only finally (usually) gets here, but also gives way to summer. And it’s a busy month, as the schools, too, pick up the pace before the school year ends in June. One has only to look at the “events” calendar on the Geneva School District website to see a month crammed with activities: Fifth-Grade Send-Offs, field trips, Sports Days, sporting events, concerts, volunteer appreciation events, meetings and Advanced Placement tests. Pick a grade school and hit “continue,” and you see events such as orchestra and band concerts, fifth-grade picnic (or Send-Off, depending on the school), recognition of patrols, volunteer appreciation lunch, kindergarten programs, and other activities outside …
Monday, April 25, 2011
Here's a look at what's coming up, from new board members to teacher retirements.
Attached is a copy of Monday's School Board agenda, courtesy of School District 304. It should be a good meeting, with new board members sworn in and recognition of retiring board members, a Tradition of Excellence award. Also of note is a building and grounds outlay proposal, and more talk about turf at Burgess Field, following the $450,000 donation from an anonymous benefactor. Some of the more interesting items: So why not attend and participate? The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Coultrap Facility, 1113 Peyton St.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Can we afford a 4.24 percent budget increase in this economy?
At one of my City Council appearances addressing the “municipal mindset, ” Alderman Dawn Vogelsburg approached me with an interesting insight. She said, yes, magical money thinking can be a problem, but school districts are even worse. Though I reminded her that another governmental body’s failure never mitigates your own, the truth is, she was dead on. School boards can be notoriously overly generous with “other people’s” money. Until now, I’ve avoided writing about the District 304 board for two reasons. First, there’s s the inherent difficulties involved in being a School Board member. It’s time consuming, unpaid, doesn’t lead to higher office, you only hear from folks when they’re unhappy, and you have to deal with angry parents and …