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U-46 to be in attendance at IAB conference

By Seth Hancock
  A week after voting to approve renewal of membership with the Illinois Association of School Boards (IAB), costing $41,339, the Board of Education in School District U-46 voted unanimously on a $2,110 expense to send board members and U-46 CEO Tony Sanders to the organization’s annual conference at its meeting on Monday, June 26.
  The IASB conference will be held this November in Chicago and along with Sanders board members Traci Ellis, Sue Kerr, Melissa Owens and Donna Smith were listed as planning to attend the full weekend.
  Although a 7-0 vote, the IASB membership came with a 5-2 vote on June 19. Board members Phil Costello and Jeanette Ward voted no.
  Costello said that “in light of my opposition to IASB,” he wanted to give his reasoning for supporting the expenditure to send board members and Sanders to the conference.
  “First of all, I do respect and support what the board has done,” Costello said. “That’s what our goal is, which is to say we act as a board. I won’t be going to this conference. I hope that the board members who will be attending do get the benchmarking and networking opportunities that have been identified by many of you.”
  Ward said she has “also voiced my past disagreement with sending funds to the IASB” but agreed with Costello that the board has approved the membership so she would support the ability for members to attend the conference.
  Board member Veronica Noland said: “I find a middle ground in that I choose not to stay overnight and choose to simply attend the educational sessions and forgo the networking of the evening. That’s a personal choice that I make. I will support this because I believe that each board member can make that individual decision, and I support the value of IASB and the continuing education not only just for board members but for top-level staff as well.”
  At the June 19 meeting, Costello and Ward both voiced their reasoning for opposing membership in the IAB.
  Costello said: “I think that the IASB could be a portal and a repository for benchmarking and best practices, and they’ve lost that opportunity…. I just don’t see those dollars going into the classroom.”
  Ward said that “last year I voted no because I didn’t find a value in the services that they provide” and “they haven’t changed my mind.”
  Last year, Costello attended the IASB conference and told The Examiner after that it was both “interesting and disturbing at the same time” and “the whole process seemed rather sanitized.”
  At a board meeting shortly after the conference, Costello elaborated more on his experience at the conference when he said the IASB appears to want to protect the current education system rather than looking at how to fix problems plaguing it, and that the organization ignores the effects the policies it pushes for will have on taxpayers.
  Costello said he “was disappointed with the presenters’ core knowledge and expressed interest in charting only positive news, which seems counter-intuitive to me” and added he’s “apprehensive about relegating our voice to a group that cannot hold our legislators individually responsible for their voting records. They implicitly do not represent the interests of our taxpayers which contradicts this group’s usefulness to me.”



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