D-64 Once Again Shows That It’s “Chinatown”


In our 01.25.15 post we wrote about Park Ridge-Niles School District 64’s announcement of the formation of a 30-35 member “Strategic Planning Steering Committee” to create a new, “community-driven” five-year strategic plan by involving our community’s “stakeholders.”

TONIGHT (04.15.15) D-64 is offering all of us “stakeholders” a preview of its “working draft” of that strategic plan’s “2020 vision” for D-64. Those previews will be held in two one-hour sessions – 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., or 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. – at Emerson Middle School’s Learning Resource Center.

For all you “stakeholders” who regularly commute home to Park Ridge on the 5:47 or 6:30 p.m. METRA trains, don’t worry: D-64 doesn’t really mind that you won’t be attending. When it comes to community involvement, D-64 has operated under a version of the old Chicago Way creed of: “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”

Those of you “stakeholders” who know how these dog-and-pony shows tend to be run won’t be surprised to learn that these preview sessions will be “led” by the District’s strategic planning consultant, Bob Ewy, formerly the director of planning and quality programs for Palatine District 15 and now a “performance coach…[who] most often works with senior leaders to develop or refine strategic plans, deploy plans, align organizational systems, develop process management and improvement methodology, develop assessment metrics, build district-level scorecards, and apply continuous process improvement principles and practices.”

And, apparently, with a sub-specialty of drafting-creative-and-self-promoting-job-descriptions-and-resume-inserts.

This draft strategic plan reportedly incorporates feedback from “more than 830 surveys” submitted in March, although after looking at the survey form we would love to see the raw data provided by the answers to those questions. A mere 830 surveys sure doesn’t sound like any kind of representative sampling of the views of over 37,000 “stakeholders” in more than 14,000 households, especially if (as we understand it) the “Surveymonkey” process did not prevent one or more people from “stuffing the ballot box” and skewing the data through multiple responses.

And, true to form for the anti-transparency crew running D-64, the “draft” strategic plan cannot be found on the District’s website so that interested “stakeholders” might read it before tonight’s festivities and show up at the preview sessions with at least some familiarity with the subject matter so that they might ask some informed questions.

Heck, we scoured the D-64 website and weren’t even able to find the names of the 40 “stakeholders” who were selected for the strategic planning committee by what seems to have been secret deliberations by the D-64 Board and/or administration until…wait for it…earlier today – when even the shameless D-64 Board and administration couldn’t justify keeping it a secret any longer, and the List was released.

Heaven forbid that the identities of those members might become known – they might suddenly be inundated with unsolicited input from their relatives, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. And THAT, dear readers, could make it a lot harder for Mr. Ewy to herd those committee members in the direction the D-64 administration desires.

Or maybe D-64 didn’t want to reveal those names any earlier than it had to so as to conceal the fact that, in typical D-64 style, the most grossly under-represented group on that Committee is the “Community” –comprised of only 7 of the 39 (18%) members. Ideally, “community” members would be just plain ol’ ordinary taxpayers with no current direct personal or economic ties to D-64 or to the local public education “establishment” – like, maybe, young married DINKs, or parochial school parents, or even a single person or two who did not grow up here.

But, not surprisingly, that’s not the case.

Of those 7 “community” members, one is current D-64 CFC member (and former D-64 board member – 2007-11) Genie Taddeo; another is retired D-207 assistant supt. John Benka; two more are D-64 parents Paul Lisowski and current D-207 Board member Paula Besler. That leaves only Jackie McNeilly, Len Stoga and Police Chief Frank Kaminski to truly represent the “community” – although Stoga appears to be the designated “community” member for every D-64 strategic plan, as demonstrated by the roster from the 2010 strategic planning committee.

Not surprisingly, we also can’t find any trace on the D-64 website of the agendas, committee packets or minutes of the meetings this committee held in order to come up with this draft strategic plan.

Because that’s what passes for “transparency” and “involving the community’s stakeholders” with the current D-64 Board and administration.

“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

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