The Examiner U-46 News Feed
U-46 board member to host town hall meetings
By Seth Hancock
Phil Costello, School District U-46 Board of Education member, has announced a plan to host two upcoming town hall meetings.
The town hall meetings will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at the Bartlett Public Library and Wednesday, March 20 at Gail Borden Library in Elgin according to Costello who announced the dates at the board meeting on Monday, Feb. 4. Both town halls are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
In November, Costello announced that he would not seek reelection to the board in the upcoming April 2 board elections. He holds one of four seats up for election.
Costello invited his colleagues on the board who are not up for reelection (Veronica Noland, Melissa Owens and Donna Smith) but they did not respond to the invite at the Feb. 4 meeting. Costello will also invite the newcomers running for the four open board seats which include Daniel Hancock, Eva Porter, Tina Rio, Ina Silva-Sobolewski and Kate Thommes.
Part of the reason for the town halls according to Costello are the upcoming elections which he said generally do not come with high voter turnout. He said the district does not hear enough from some stakeholders, most importantly the taxpayers who fund the district.
“My overriding concern is that school board elections generally do not engender significant voter turnout that other state and federal elected positions garner and yet property taxes can be more than 5 percent of a family’s household budget,” Costello said. He added: “This board needs to hear from you all, whether you’re an employee or a taxpayer, a teacher, whatever. We need to hear from you. It can’t just be in this room, it’s got to be outside of this room.”
Costello said the town halls will focus on “the key issues that challenge” the district and how to improve voter turnout, but he said attendees will be free to raise their own issues and concerns.
In his remaining months on the board, Costello said he will “focus more on district taxpayers… who generally do not get the attention they deserve…. I think we should be dealing with the larger issues, how taxpayers in this district are treated and what we’re expecting of them and what they should be expecting of the schools.”
Costello also said he will be writing a weekly blog, at u46boe-philcostello.com, as he reviews board decisions over his four years to figure out what impact the board’s decisions have had and what lessons can be learned.
“This is not acrimonious,” Costello said. “I’m not finger pointing. Hopefully I’ve never done that here. I hope that this board and following boards don’t do that.”
Costello added: “We should be discussing issues, like those that were addressed tonight both at the employee level and at the taxpayer level. These are things that we should be looking at.”
At the Feb. 4 meeting, two people spoke during public comments including a union representative sharing concerns with a policy change approved by the board that evening. A resident and taxpayer also raised concerns with the same policy as well as concerns over the high taxation in the district despite academic results continuing to decline.