Local News

District 233 member says board needs to reorganize to improve communications

At its recent meeting, District 233 school board heard a proposal from board member Annette Bannon to change the operating structure of the school board by removing committees. Right now, the board’s business flows through three committees that examine issues of Planning, Finance and Personnel. The work of each three-member committee is subsequently reported to the full seven-member board, but Bannon said the committees’ minutes don’t provide her with enough context. 

At its recent meeting, District 233 school board heard a proposal from board member Annette Bannon to change the operating structure of the school board by removing committees.

Bannon said she doesn’t feels fully informed about important issues because the current system of working through committees limits her knowledge and input on decisions that affect Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

Right now, the board’s business flows through three committees that examine issues of Planning, Finance and Personnel. The work of each three-member committee is subsequently reported to the full seven-member board, but Bannon said the committees’ minutes don’t provide her with enough context. The reports lack pros and cons, she said, and the more complete examinations of issues that happens at committee meetings.

Bannon suggests current committee-level discussions should be open to all board members. Working as a Committee of the Whole, she said, all board members could meet and discuss all items of business. Bannon recommended piloting the change for a period of at least six months to see how it would operate and whether it would benefit discussions.

 
Bannon acknowledged it would be an added burden, but she sees it as “worth the time until we all get on the same page.” She said she believes a Committee of the Whole structure would be “for the greater good.”
 
Board member Pamela Jackson said she didn’t want to disband committees, but she could accept “some sort of hybrid or trial” to the Committee of the Whole. 
 
Several board members strongly disagreed with Bannon’s proposal, saying a Committee of the Whole structure would be inefficient and time consuming.
 
“Every well-run, efficient organization uses committees,” member Debbie Berman said. “We spend between three and 10 hours in our committees in addition to the board meetings. If we had to do that times three and try to get all these people available every quarter we would not be able to function.”
 
Member Gerald Pauling called it “a bad idea” and wondered “what is underlying this suggestion that we move away from structures” adding he had “serious reservations” about it.
 
He said committees allow members to use their expertise. Beth Larocca countered that she is only on the Finance Committee. The committee structure is limiting her from sharing her expertise with Personnel or Planning Committees.

Member Nate Legardy said he was having difficulty seeing any benefits to the plan.

“I don’t see the logistics. We do have something concrete and it’s worked well,” he noted.
 

“I think there’s an undercurrent in this room that certain people don’t trust what is happening in the committees that they don’t sit on. That is very troubling to me,” Berman said. Board members have always worked to get up to speed on past board discussions and decisions irregardless of committee assignments.
 
Anderson thanked Bannon for raising the issue. “It’s healthy to have this dialog,” he said. “To me, I think (committees) work.”
 

Community Calendar

News by email

Subscribe to The Latest (daily headlines email)

* indicates required

View previous campaigns.

Free weekly newsletter

Subscribe to The Weeks (weekly newsletter)

* indicates required
Most read stories this week