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From Newest Member to Board President, DiSandro Replaces Markus

Nick DiSandro was elected as District 122 president on Tuesday, replacing Kathy Markus, who gave a tearful goodbye.

Less than one month ago, Nick DiSandro was in a tight three-way battle for two seats on the District 122 school board. As of Tuesday night, he was elected to lead the board as president.

DiSandro, the newest member of the board, replaces outgoing President Kathy Markus, who did not run for re-election. Board members Maureen Broderick and Sue Gillooley were elected to another term and were also sworn in Tuesday.

"It's a surprise," DiSandro said after the board meeting. "I think the entire board looked at the best option to start fresh."

The circumstances under which DiSandro became president were quite surprising. Broderick first nominated Gillooley for president, but she declined the nomination. After member Deb Kedzior nominated Kathy Miller, Broderick offered DiSandro's name. He got five of the seven votes, with only Kedzior and Miller voting against him.

Gillooley was elected vice president after no one else was nominated. Broderick was elected secretary in a 5-2 vote over Kedzior, again with Kedzior and Miller as the dissenting voters.

Improving Communication

Throughout the election, DiSandro said his No. 1 priority is bettering communication between the board and the parents and taxpayers in New Lenox.

"I'd like to see more proactive communication from the district to get more information out," he said after the meeting. He wouldn't go into any specific plans because he said he'd rather discuss them with the other board members first.

Communication was an issue multiple residents addressed during the public comment portion at the start of the meeting. For the second straight meeting, resident Phil Adair, who ran and lost for a school board seat, asked for more of a dialogue between board members and the community. He also wants more information available on the district’s website, and Superintendent Mike Sass offered to have the communications director help him find what is on the site.

“We shouldn’t have to fill out any Freedom of Information paperwork," Adair said. "It should be readily available.”

Later, resident Karen Little asked for explanation on why raises were given to school district employees, but she didn't get a response. Markus said it's board policy to not reply to public comments, leading Adair to scoff at the notion.

Besides more communication with the public, also-ran Bill Strons spoke and said taxpayers want a president and a board who will build a consensus and work together.

"You must heal the rifts and stop the attacks and petty insults," he said.

The board voted to absorb its May 11 meeting into the May 18 meeting, so the board will meet next on Wednesday, May 18 at the Haven Administrative Center.

Mary Caskey May 04, 2011 at 11:39 AM
Is the only way the board responds to the tax paying public is during elections? I bet is Mrs. Little was publicly commending the School Board during a meeting, most certainly her comments/questions would have been addressed. Perhaps they are planning to discuss Mrs. Little's questions during an "Executive Session".
Marie May 05, 2011 at 12:19 PM
I think the district should put links to FOIA-able information on their website. There are counties and townships that already do just that in Illinois. Since the previous board voted themselves iPads with the reasoning of "going green" and saving money on materials and staff time, and a priority for our new school board president is to improve communication with the community, this would make perfect sense, it can be done, and it would provide for more transparency.
K. Little May 05, 2011 at 02:38 PM
I'll admit I was rather taken aback by the tone of the response I received from then Board Pres. Kathy Markus. All I wanted to understand, as do many in the community I have spoken with, is how we found money for admin raises when just a few short months ago we had a huge deficit with minimal funds for busing, we were eliminating aids, teachers were being let go, etc. Surely the Pres. and board can see how that picture does not add up to the taxpayer and deserves an honest answer. To be told this is none of my business was a mistake. Kathy did not fully listen to my question. I did not ask for specific salaries or details. What should have been said then and over the past few years is, "we do not always have time to address these important questions in full detail at these meetings, but we invite you to meet with us at a later time to discuss your question." If that kind of answer was given, the board's reputation would be far less scrutinized. It makes me wonder about the leadership skills of all involved and their sensitivity to the taxing body they are beholden to. I look forward to a new board with fresh leadership and a proposed commitment to more open communication.

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