Will Co. (ECWd) -
Personal Email Gave Talking Points to Board Member Before August Vote
The pit of vipers that is Lincoln-Way High School District 210 seems impossible to untangle. Just when the taxpayers expressed leery optimism over the selection Friday night of two new Board members for the embattled administration that is closing a nationally ranked high school come May, it only took a few hours to find continued concerning connections through the Freedom of Information Act.
Newly named District 210 Board of Education member-elect Chris Lucchetti wrote to a current Board member a week before the vote to close eight-year-old Lincoln-Way North High School in August, stating that the Board should keep Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way Central—the District’s two oldest schools--open, according to at least one personal email obtained via FOIA.
Wonder why? Hmmm, could it be because Lucchetti’s own kids go to Central, his brother coaches volleyball at Central, his wife is the treasurer of the Parent-Teacher Organization at the elementary school district that feeds Central? We see Lucchetti’s interest in the decision, sure. But the real questions are: Who is this Lucchetti, and why does the Board value his opinions?
The Puppet Speaks?
Words from Lucchetti’s personal email to Dr. Arvid Johnson, District 210 Board member, on Aug. 5, 2015, came out of Johnson’s mouth at the Aug. 13 Board meeting at which the vote to close North took place. Comments on District business really should have gone to then-Board President Kevin Molloy. But Molloy was probably too busy doing his work in the community to pay attention to Lucchetti’s faulty financial argument for closing a school. Why did that email only go to Arvid Johnson? He was but one of the seven voting Board members. But Johnson’s ties to the District run as deep as the water tables under Central. He was the Board president under the illustrious then-Superintendent Lawrence Wyllie. Johnson, the current President of the University of St. Francis in Joliet, still hosts Wyllie as a trustee to University of St. Francis—an utter embarrassment to that seemingly fine institution of higher education.
Here is Johnson’s speech to the community during that fateful Aug. 13 meeting:
Lucchetti appears to have been handpicked by administrators to apply for the Board position. On the face of things, he is an attractive candidate, having years of financial background – something that the other current Board members certainly cannot tout. They’ve openly admitted that they never looked at Wyllie’s budgets nor questioned them. Lucchetti is a director of Trust Investments, at Kinship Trust Company, LLC. We suspect the Board will attempt to sell him to the community as having financial acumen. But the financial logic in his email does not make sense, especially since there is no data available on the savings of a school closure. His Aug. 5 email to Johnson stated that the Board would be justified in closing any school. But District 210 has not been able to provide any backup for its claim of what it would save with the closure of a school. The Board has said it will save slightly more than $5 million by closing a school, but when FOIA’d multiple times by community group, Lincoln-Way Area Taxpayers Unite, no information exists to back up the oft-cited figure.
It’s pretty interesting to note that, if the Board members checked their own budgets, they would see that District 210 is doing better than ever, financially, while operating all four of its high schools. Community analysis of the December 2015 Treasurer’s Report concluded the District has spent $4.3 million less through December 2015 as compared to December 2014. In addition, the District has received $1 million more in revenues through December 2015 as compared to December 2014. This translates to a net $5.3 million improvement.
Why, oh why is the District not shouting this from the rooftops: “WE CAN SAVE OUR SCHOOLs, people!!” Nope. Instead, it’s business as usual. The Board is finally under the watchful eyes of the community, and because of that, it is performing its duties pretty nicely, in terms of finances. But that, unfortunately, makes the evil deeds of the past stand out even more.
Wait and See
The other chosen Board appointee, Dr. Kathleen Casey, was an administrator working under Wyllie in 2003, according to familytaxpayers.org. Casey and Dr. Tingley worked together at Lincoln-Way District 210 from 1998-2000. So the jury is out on her independence.
This was finally a time to restore the public’s confidence in District 210. But it’s the same business, as usual. Here is the content of Lucchetti’s email:
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