The petition, started by Mary Zarembski, calls for Board President Bill Walsh, Vice President Alison Swanson and Secretary Laurie Pasteris to step aside because of what Zarembski said has been 12 months of ineffective leadership, lack of transparency and an inability to communicate with the public. The petition also calls for more senior members of the board to fill those leadership roles.
Zarembski, a mother of two students, said she moved to the district eight years ago because of what she said was a progressive school system with vision. She started the petition last week because those ideals have disappeared, she said.
“The final straw really was the way in which the board hired the new assistant superintendent for business,” she said. “It was done with a complete lack of transparency. On top of that they’ve given the new hire such a raise. I really question their fiscal policy.”
Paul O’Malley, the new assistant superintendent of business, . His base salary is $180,000. He replaces , whose base salary in his final year was about $139,000.
Walsh has seen the petition and said this week that stepping aside has never crossed his mind.
"Just because there are tough challenges and issues to address, that is no reason to quit, thus I have never considered stepping down as president," he said. "It is important to remember that officers of the board of education have no additional voting power or influence, on issues. The officers are just one of seven on the board."
So far, about 230 people have signed the petition, which is being hosted on the site change.org. One of those signers is Julie DiCaro of Aurora. She said she’s never met Zarembski, but decided to sign the petition based on the recent redrawing of district boundaries for Homestead Elementary School and proposals that would eliminate bus service for many Homestead students.
“A lot of us started paying more attention during the redistricting,” she said. “It’s absolutely our fault for not paying more attention during the election. That’s a mistake I won’t make again.”
Zarembski said she didn’t call for the board members to resign outright because she respects that they were elected.
“Elections have consequences. I get that,” she said. “But there has to be a balance. That’s where leadership comes in. The question is how do they plan to get all the stakeholders to work together? I think it’s important to let them know that we’re paying attention to what they do.”
Swanson urged parents to contact her directly with issues, and in the meantime plans to remain focused.
"While I respect every American’s right to free speech, my first responsibility is to the voters who entrusted me to represent them and the 17,000 children in the Oswego District 308 School District," she said. "... As a community I would encourage you to have a direct conversation regarding important education matters. It will help eliminate the miscommunications. As always, I try to respect everyone’s opinions and appreciate all constructive concerns and criticisms. I would also encourage you to contact your state representatives regarding proposed funding cuts."