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Board OKs Boundaries, Accepts O'Donnell's Resignation

Outgoing superintendent leaving over differences in leadership philosophy with board.

The School Board voted Monday night to accept the original recommendation of its boundary committee in redrawing the district’s 2012-13 attendance lines.

After another four hours of debate and public comment, the board voted 5-2 with board members Lynn Cullick and Laurie Pasteris voting no. Lessening the student population at The Wheatlands Elementary School was not addressed Monday night, and the board will discuss options for that at its March 5 meeting with a possible vote on those boundaries coming March 12.

One option being considered for The Wheatlands would be to move students from the Four Pointes or Amber Fields North subdivisions to Wolf’s Crossing Elementary School. The special education Life Skills program also could be moved to Wolf’s Crossing or Homestead Elementary School. The board will also discuss the possibility of removing kindergarten from The Wheatlands to help enrollment. 

As for the rest of the district, Monday's final vote will mean:

  • 324 students from the Homestead attendance boundaries will be moved from Bednarcik Junior High to Murphy Junior High in Plainfield.
  • 66 Churchill Elementary School students from the Prescott Mill subdivision also will end up at Plainfield's Grande Park Elementary School and Murphy.
  • 100 students from the downtown area, Saratoga Springs and Orchard Prairie will shift junior highs from Traughber to Thompson.
  • 40 Bedncarcik students from Auburn Lakes in Plainfield will move to Murphy.
  • 100 elementary students from Auburn Lakes will move from Wolf’s Crossing to Grande Park.
  • 130 Morgan Crossing and Deerpath Trail students will move from Hunt Club to Prairie Point.

Board policy on boundary variances will allow for exceptions when capacity and programming will accommodate. However, bus service will not be provided for boundary exceptions.

The board also voted 6-0, with Pasteris abstaining, to accept the resignation of Superintendent Dan O’Donnell effective June 30.

After the meeting, O’Donnell said his resignation was due to a difference in leadership style between himself and the current board.

“This board is a lot different than the board that hired me, and I think it would be better for everyone if they were to hire a superintendent who more closely matched what they have in mind,” he said. 

O'Donnell also said he has no other job prospects at the moment and will take some time to consider his options.

"I may just end up retiring," he said. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated to more accurately reflect the location of Homestead students now heading for Murphy Junior High. We regret the error. 

Lisa Udy February 29, 2012 at 09:02 PM
It's Erienna Elementary which is part of the Nettle Creek Consolidated Community School District, which is located in Morris. Google Nettle Creek instead of Morris schools.
Lisa Udy February 29, 2012 at 09:10 PM
To clarify, Nettle Creek CCSD24 is divided into two 'sub schools'. K-2 (Erienna) and Nettle Creek (3-8). There are 73 students in the entire school. You can find the school report card on the ISBE website. It appears to be a high performing school.
Jane Enviere February 29, 2012 at 09:11 PM
We have so many problems in this district, let's not waste our energy on a fight that has yet to happen - if ever. You will find people who say that they loved someone who is totally incompetent and you will find people who say that they hated someone who did a bang up job. It usually has to do with whether or not they got their way. ; ) Worry about a Pasteris candidacy if and when it happens. Until then - who wants to join me to get rid of Everyday Math. lol Kidding! Kidding. Kinda. ; )
Jeannine Zupo February 29, 2012 at 09:14 PM
@ James: Yes, I said it stinks that kids get bussed that long. However, what would be WAY worse would be Bednarcik with 150 more kids next year. Pam Jensen, principal at the school, said to me," with that many more kids next year, we would have a completely different school. There isn't room for another desk in any of the classrooms. There isn't space in the gym, lunchroom or hallways. Kids already eat at 10:30am and 2pm. There are not enough lockers." That is from your principal, not a biased parent. The school cannot hold all the incoming 6, 7, 8th graders at Wheatlands, Homestead, Grande Park AND WC anymore. We as the committee DID stand up for what was best for the 17,000 students in our district. Opening Murphy solved the problem, wake up! Putting that decision on hold would have been horrible.... don't you get it... the principals at all the district's JR Highs were involved in the committee decision! We did NOT follow leaders... in fact, we challenged them at every meeting, trust me.... where you there? Education is going to be better, not because it was bad but because it was going to get bad should we have chosen to sit and do nothing just because parents didn't want their kids to commute. For pete sake, start getting your kids excited about this change instead of beating it to death. For those of us who are embracing it. we are going to move forward making MU a great place!
Cynthia February 29, 2012 at 09:47 PM
I believe the kids at all the junior highs clean there tables. Atleast they do the same at Traughber. It is a rule set by those in charge not by the custodians. Quite honestly the kids should pick learn to clean up after themselves. Don't know why when the kids get to high school the same rule is not enforced. So basically, your child came home complaining because they had to wipe off a table and the custodian was in the same room and you sided with your child. Their getting probably getting paid 10 th 15 dollars and paying the same for health insurance as the administrators and further more they are not there to wait hand and foot on your children. Have a little respect
Jill February 29, 2012 at 10:17 PM
@Lisa, I called over to the district to get the most recent information, and there is no more Erienna. It's consolidated into Nettle Creek. He's the superintendent and principal. Here's what I also found on google search. They were recognized by the state for their high ISAT scores - Bill Status of HR0611 97th General Assembly Short Description: CONGRATS-NETTLE CREEK STUDENTS House Sponsors Rep. Pam Roth Last Action Date Chamber Action 11/9/2011 House Resolution Adopted Synopsis As Introduced Congratulates the students at Nettle Creek School District 24C on their outstanding Illinois Standardized Achievement Test (ISAT) results and designates November 15, 2011 as Nettle Creek School Day in the State of Illinois.
Julie DiCaro February 29, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Really getting sick and tired of people telling those of us with no school in our neighborhoods that we should have been prepared to see our kids moved around. When I moved in to the Wheatlands in 2000, we were told our kids would go to Wheatlands (they ended up at Homestead) and Bednarcik. We drove up Eola to Bednarcik, and the proximity to our home was one of the reasons we chose to live here. At that time, many of the communities now claiming a "right" or "special relationship" with BJHS weren't even built or were in the very early stages of being built. Saying that we could have foreseen our children going to another school is one thing, saying that I could have foreseen the BOE choosing to bus my children 40 minutes (each way) to a school in Plainfield, when other communities are much closer to Plainfield, is something else. No one could have foreseen such a stupid decision.
Julie DiCaro February 29, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Sorry--2001.
Jane Enviere March 01, 2012 at 12:29 AM
@Lisa - it's entirely possible that there was a non-disclosure agreement in place regarding the circumstances and terms of his separation. That's very common and it precludes the individual from "defending his good name". Honestly, it baffles me as to why people are so obsessed with this guy. Why get so worked up before anything even happens? The other issue is that in higher level positions (inside education and elsewhere) termination does not necessarily mean there was gross wrongdoing. Sometimes it's a philosophy difference, personality conflict or somebody wants someone that they knew from somewhere else. Termination in and of itself is just not that big of a deal in a lot of cases.
Lisa Udy March 01, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Yes, the school does have excellent scores. Now please take this next comment in the most sincere way - I am NOT being sarcastic in any way. The school had 77 students in 2010. They have NO ELL students and only two students are considered low-income. They average 10 students per grade. If any school should do well, it's this one! I am very interested to see what Dr. Pasteris could bring to our school district. This is another set of information to consider in his application.
Lisa Udy March 01, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Very good point, Jane. I'm only interested because of the connection to a current board member. This could all be an exercise in futility, because we don't even know for sure that he's applied. It's all conjecture at this point. I just enjoy the discussion.
Chloe March 01, 2012 at 01:48 PM
For the record, Dr. Pasteris was not "fired", his contract was not renewed. Google Plainfield Illinois School Board minutes, dated April 14, 2008, page 3 and you will see the devastated parents and students who went in front of the school board asking for his reinstatement. He has every right to apply for any job anywhere, just as anyone does. He would be an asset to our school community.
Michael Mraz March 01, 2012 at 05:07 PM
@Andrea B - The problem we have is that we still have 2 younger children attending Homestead. They are not old enough to be home alone while my wife spends a half hour round-trip driving our son to Murphy. I'm glad some kids have a good experience with their 40+ minute bus ride. Perhaps their child hasn't had issues with bullies on the bus? Lets give the bullies an even longer time period to torment their targets every day, that's a great idea! They picked the absolutely furthest north subdivisions to bus to the furthest south Jr. High. I'm on a mission to make sure we have 5 board members replaced next election they're up for a vote.
Michael Mraz March 01, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Sounds like we need a candidate from within the Homestead boundaries on the BoE. Let's make this happen next election.
Lisa Udy March 01, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Thank you Chloe, this is excellent information to have. It still leaves the question on the table as to WHY he was non-renewed. It appears he was well liked by the community, so at some point it was decided his deficits outweighed his assets. I agree that he has every right to apply for the job, and he may very well be the best candidate we get, but his past experience does merit a thorough evaluation. Good luck to him.
Drew Jackson March 01, 2012 at 06:39 PM
I am not sure you will ever get a straight answer about why his contract was not renewed. The best you could hope for is a one sided account or rumor of the events. Not a good source either way really. Frankly even if you did have the information and also found him to be the best choice for one of our open positions, I still would not be in favor of it. As one poster previously stated the board and the open positions all regularly work/negotiate on issues surroundings the working of our school district. For Mrs. Pasteris to be on the board and Mr. Pasteris to be a top level administrator would be an ongoing conflict of interest. It is why it is not done and frowned upon by so many boards public and private. Other districts in our area will not hire lower level administrators or even teachers insome cases if they have a spouse on the board much less one of the positions we are discussing. If Mr. Pasteris applies and is considered to be the best candidate then Mrs. Pasteris can simply resign from the board to remove the conflict.
Will Paneful March 01, 2012 at 07:24 PM
I just have one simple question. Maybe it has been discussed but I really haven't seen an explanation. Why aren't the boundries drawn by geographic distance to a school? It seems to me that 2 students could attend the same elementary school (there are more of them) but different middle schools based on how far they are from that particular school. It makes no sense to me to keep kids together just bc they go to the same elementary school. In fact it is probably better to mix up the students so they can meet new friends while saving time and money bussing kids all over the place.
Julie DiCaro March 01, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Totally agree with Michael. We've got a couple bullies in our neighborhood, and the thought of my kids being on a bus with them for 90 minutes each day makes me ill. UGH.
Michael Mraz March 02, 2012 at 12:14 AM
That would be ideal financially and makes logical sense. But, many people cling to the social relationships made early in childhood and insist they be maintained for their children. Of course, this ignores that the same problem they have is being forced upon other's children as they leave one school for another after matriculating there for a year or more. There are no good options to resolve the population density and distribution problems in relation to the location of facilities. But, the choices made for these boundary changes are oppressive to many of the affected children. We're being told to make the best of a bad situation. How about we fix the situation instead?
Julie DiCaro March 02, 2012 at 03:19 AM
I saw somewhere that there's going to be a chance to meet our candidates for state rep at Maciano's coming up. I'm trying to get info on that, if anyone has it. Let's all make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again by paying attention and getting involved in our local politics!
Alette Anderson March 02, 2012 at 06:40 AM
Here's a link w/ info on the IHSA thing. Looks like some where trying to recruit. Punishment included many staff members. Don't know his part in it other than what is written. http://mywebtimes.com/archives/ottawa/display.php?id=267493
Julie DiCaro March 02, 2012 at 09:13 PM
I think there is a real difference between asking logical questions and assaulting someone's character. Frankly, I'm already extremely uncomfortable with the insular nature of the BOE. I'm sure there are many find candidates out there who are NOT related to someone on the school board. Given the way this entire redistricting went down, I'd be far more comfortable getting some new blood in there and not adding to the country club-like nature of the existing BOE. Frankly, no matter how many parents and students were upset, I have a lot of questions about someone who was disciplined for recruiting violations.
Robyn Vickers March 02, 2012 at 10:29 PM
I think it's pretty obvious by Mrs. Pasteris' comments (and lack thereof) in the Ledger yesterday that the rumors are true and Dr. Pasteris has applied for the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning.
Donna Thill March 02, 2012 at 10:59 PM
I cannot imagine who would have a problem or complaint regarding our young people being responsible, on a rotating basis, for cleaning up after the very messes they themselves create?! Our custodians at Plank are the best I have seem around. The lunchrooms are clean every day when our students enter. Anything the kids sweep or wipe down is exactly what their table was responsible for. Our students understand, not necessarily enjoy, why they SHARE in the responsiblities of keeping our school in the clean and proud shape it is in. Substitute teachers who visit our school have also often times praised ous at Plank for including our young people in showing their pride in their community. Thanks to all our hard working custodial staff members! You Rock!
Julie DiCaro March 03, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Speaking a jargon, your post is barely intelligible. Obamaville? I guess most of us moved in during 2000-2008. That was all Bush, sweetheart. And, out of curioustiy, since you don't have kids in school anymore, exactly what kind of vouchers do you expect to get? Vouchers are for people with kids in school, Einstein.
Julie DiCaro March 03, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Put me in whatever category you want. At least I'm not ignorant enough to complain about people getting interested in local politics and blame our local issues on the person in the White House.
Walt Hines March 03, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Ladies the tit-for-tat between the 2 of you is not very becoming. Since when did having an opinion become a crime and the use of belittling words. While you might not agree with each other or like the past or present president it's your personal opinion, for now we're allowed to have that. Not everyone likes the boundary changes and some just want to move on. Honestly at this point they should have hired the professionals, paid the $25,000.00 and been done with it. IMO, I feel something is not quite right at play here. This whole fiasco stinks of .....
ayar March 05, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I have to agree with what Guy says : it's a direct conflict of interest. If Laurie really wants her husband considered, she should consider resigning from the board. After the current superintendent Dr. O was hired by a school board that had two former school board members placed there by Dr. Paul Nordstrom, regional superintendent, I don't know if it would engender a lot of community togetherness pulling a board member's spouse onboard.
Christina Spaulding March 10, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Dear Concerned Parent: I too am a concerned parent of this area for 17 years. I have been through three boundary changes and at NO time did the board ever come up with the boundaries themselves. They were always drawn up by a parent boundary committee, tweeked by district administration and then presented to the board. I would love to hear your idea on how to keep every aurora student in a school with an aurora address. If you had such a plan you should have donated your time to the boundary committee. And have you forgotten that this is the Oswego Community School District-Maybe we should build you a high school in Aurora as we currently do not have one located there. Should we follow your advice and say none of the Aurora schools should be bussed to Oswego? Sounds crazy doesn't it? As far as you calling the school board lazy, I am wondering if you would spend your Monday nights at meetings twice a month, field hundreds of emails on your own time, and spend countless hours talking to concerned parents, all the while working a 40+ hour a week job. If this board is so lazy, be sure to get your name on the ballot and donate your time. Or are you too lazy to do that?
Christina Spaulding March 10, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Jennifer- That is easy for you and your friends to say because you got what you wanted. I am sure you would be singing a different tune if Murphy was not opening. Not everyone wants to be part of "The Murph". You need to get over yourself and your self entitled attitude.

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