’s newest board member said she hopes to maintain student achievement while protecting taxpayer interests of a district she deeply admires and respects.
Dee Molinare replaced board member David Izzo—a recent appointee of the Will County Board—on Thursday after relinquishing her seat at Summit Hill School District 161, which she held for 10 years.
A mother of four with a freshman at , Molinare works as an adjunct instructor in mathematics and psychology at Joliet Junior College.
“I can certainly attest to the wonderful compassion and sagacity and real sense of duty that she really brought to the table there,” said Sean Doyle, a Summit Hill board member, and later added of their time working together: “She had the fortitude to make tough decisions and follow through on those decisions.”
District 210 Board President Arvid Johnson said he was impressed with the list of candidates who came forward to fill Izzo’s seat, noting “it’s a really good sign that the district is able to attract that many high caliber individuals who want to be part of the story.”
But of the 10 applicants interviewed, Molinare stood apart because of her past experience as a board member and “extensive” development training with the Illinois Association of School Boards, which awarded her their highest status, he said.
“She can hit the ground running,” Johnson said.
2011 Tax Levy
Among the first entries on Molinare’s voting record was the 2011 tax levy, which at about $74.4 million is $2.75 million less than 2010’s.
“That’s possible because of the way everyone in this district comes together,” Johnson said. “It’s the faculty, it’s the staff. They have what I like to think of as an owner’s mentality, so they find ways to do things … and yet our student achievement continues to excel.”
For instance, he said, administrative and support salaries are actually lower than they were three years ago. Assistant Supt. Ron Sawin announced Thursday that the district has saved more than a quarter of a million dollars in buildings and grounds alone in the past year.
“It’s a lot of little things we do that become institutional,” Johnson said. “People don’t waste here. What we don’t want to do is cut the academic programs. And I’ll be honest with you—it’s getting tougher and tougher.”
Supt. Larry Wyllie said the state is six months behind its payments and owes about $5 million. The district eliminated a free zero-hour class a couple years ago, and as much as the board would like to resume paying for it, it wouldn’t be fiscally prudent yet, Johnson said.
On Wednesday, the district held a public hearing for the levy, which no one attended, Sawin said. It was approved unanimously at the regular board meeting.
The levy, as Sawin was quick to point out, is only a request for money based mostly on a best-guess of the value of property within in the district, new property values and the consumer price index. Last year the district asked for about $77.1 million and received $68 million, he said.