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H-F board moves associate principal to business manager’s job

Lawrence Cook will be the new business manager for District 233 starting July 1. The school board approved his three-year appointment Tuesday, April 2, on a 5-2 vote. Beth Larocca and Annette Bannon voted against the appointment. Cook’s starting salary will be $129,202.

Lawrence Cook will be the new business manager for District 233 starting July 1. 
  Lawrence Cook is
  the new business
  manager for H-F
  School District 233.
(Provided photo)

The school board approved his three-year appointment Tuesday, April 2, on a 5-2 vote. Beth Larocca and Annette Bannon voted against the appointment.

Cook’s starting salary will be $129,202.

Cook said he “loves numbers” and is happy to find a new position in education that suits his skills. He’s excited by ”the challenge. I’m looking to get back to number crunching. I think this is what I like to do, to gather information, figure things out, problem solve.”

Ken Parchem, business manager for 13 years, left the district in June 2018. This past academic year, Mark Sheehan filled in as interim business manager. Sheehan retired from a similar position in Bloom Township District 206. He came out of retirement to assist H-F. He will continue on for several more months to help with the transition. 

Cook currently is associate principal in the South Building at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. He has been with the district since 2002 and has held various positions, including chair of the Math and Assessments Departments, dean of students and assistant principal.

Cook has his undergraduate degree in math from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and taught math for several years in Milwaukee and later at Rich Central High School. He also has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Governors State University and a doctorate in educational leadership from National Louis University.

The assistant principal’s opening will be posted for job applicants said Jodi Bryant, director of human resources and public relations at H-F.

In other business, the board granted tenure to faculty who have successfully fulfilled their roles as teachers in District 233 the past four years. They are Ben May in Applied Academics; Reginald Brown in English; Anne Calderon in English; Jodi Nardella in Math; Katie Cole in Reading; Matthew Small in Social Sciences; Ashley Keca in Special Education; Zachary Wells in Student Services; Stefanie Camilli in World Language.

The board also voted 5-2 to approve courses with enrollments of 14 or fewer students. All course requests do not mean they will be offered, Principal Jerry Lee Anderson said. It has been the board’s policy the past 20 years to review these courses.  

Larocca and Bannon voted no, saying they didn’t have enough data.

Bannon and board president Steve Anderson reached out to staff for clarification on the enrollment numbers before the vote. Larocca asked questions at the board meeting. She said she raised issues last year but got the information in the same format this year. She said it left her confused because course titles weren’t given, and she couldn’t understand why some courses weren’t being combined.

Larocca argues that some of these classes could be cut to save money. “I understand we want to offer a lot of things, but there has to be a balance,” she said.

The principal explained to Larocca that in some cases teachers are teaching more than one section in one classroom. She also explained that a number of the courses are sequenced, so they must be taught as part of the sequence. Others were special education classes that also must run because they too are sections that must be available to students.  

Bryant, the human resources director, said setting aside the special education and mandated classes, the courses that will be combined and the courses that won’t even be offered she estimated the list included 30-plus courses on the list serving about 600 students.

“Basically what it comes down to is $231,000 which is 0.0037 of 1 percent of the $62 million budget. What that does is it allows us to have that comprehensive program at the school,” Bryant said, noting that the courses are for students at all levels – Applied Academics through gifted.

Board member Debbie Berman said staff do a great job at scheduling, and she believed the “breadth and depth of courses” are what make H-F a destination school in the South Suburbs. 

“We have skilled administrators here and they work very hard at scheduling to maximize the choices for students and minimize the expense for taxpayers,” she said.


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