Home: Western Springs
Profession: I am Co-owner of Palmer Place Restaurant & Biergarten in LaGrange with my brother Steve. Palmer Place has been family owned and operated in LaGrange by the Palmer family since 1976. We are active in our business and many community organizations and charities in the greater LaGrange area.
Community / Political experience:
LT Community Advisory Council member ’09/’10 & ’10/’11
LT Community Advisory Council Mission Statement: The LTCAC is constituted to bring together a wide variety of parents and community members for the purpose of providing input to the LT Board of Education. By studying and discussing timely educational issues, and communicating their ideas and feelings to the Board, the Council supports and strengthens the partnership of school family and community.
District 106 Educational Foundation member 1998 to 2010
Foundation President ’01/’02 & ’02/’03. The mission of The District 106 Educational Foundation is to involve the entire community in the enrichment of educational programs at Highlands School. Through the volunteering of time and talents, the Foundation has raised over $700,000 in the last 15 years which has been donated to educational enhancements in the district.
Helping Hand Center Countryside, Foundation Board member 2002 to present
Helping Hand Center is a non-profit social service agency dedicated to helping people of all ages with mild to severe disabilities. The mission of Helping Hand Center is to assist persons with disabilities to achieve their highest level of independence through quality programs and services.
Other / Professional experience:
Highlands School District 106 Board of Education member, 2007 to present
My experience on the District 106 Board has been very rewarding. I’ve been fortunate to serve with six wonderful members and friends. We have worked together with our administrators and faculty to make significant changes to the educational experience of our students. Some of the highlights would be the implementation of the 1 to 1 Apple laptop program in 2008, implementation of the Professional Leaning community model, enhanced educational differentiation, strategic plan development and implementation.
District 106 Finance Committee member, 2010 to present
The District #106 Finance Committee is comprised of 2 Board members, 2 community members, and the District Director of Operations. The Finance Committee is an advisory group that studies and reports, at the request of the superintendent, on district initiatives and issues that impact the district. Specifically the finance committee will:
Recommend efficient and responsible fiscal management practices in support of an excellent educational system.
Provide input to the superintendent on annual budget plans that support district goals and Board policies.
Make recommendations to ensure proactive planning for the financial future of District 106.
The district has been recognized many times by the Assoc of School Business Officials International (ASBOI) for excellence in financial reporting and by the ISBE for the management of the district’s money. The district has attained financial recognition status which states that the district’s finances are exemplary in five areas that indicate good fiscal health, including revenue to expenditure ratios, cash on hand and debt management.
District 106 Administrative Council member 2008/2009
The Administrative Council was comprised of 2 Board members, administrators, and teacher representatives. The goal of the council was to facilitate open and productive discussion on topics of concern for any of the constituency’s that comprise the council. This forum fostered better communication across the district and allowed district problems to be addressed in a more collaborative way.
Superintendent search/interview committee member; candidate interviews & site visit 2009/2010
The Board began the search process for a new District Superintendent in 2009. We partnered with the Illinois Association of School Boards to solicit candidates for the position. It was a very inclusive process by the committee, who sought input from administrators, teachers, parents, and the community. A candidate profile was created from the input received and a new Superintendent was hired in 2010.
District 106 Collective Bargaining Committee member 2007
The district entered into collective bargaining with our teachers in summer of 2007. We used the interest based bargaining model during negotiations and found the experience to be very positive for all parties. A five year agreement was reached with several other district issues including health insurance, sick days, and stipends bargained and brought to closure.
District 106 Policy Review Committee member
The Policy review committee was charged with keeping district policies currant with all state and federal mandates.
District 106 Strategic Planning Committee member 2008/2009
In 2008 the Board partnered with the Consortium For Educational Change to begin the process of developing a new District Strategic Plan. The first several months were spent gathering input from all the stakeholders in the district. A committee of representatives of each stakeholder group met several times with a facilitator from C.E.C. to come to agreement on district goals in a very collaborative way. The outcome is a District Strategic Plan that is a living document that is still used today as a template of district priorities.
LaGrange Highlands Elementary & Middle Schools 1968 to 1975
LTHS class of 1979
University of Denver 1979 to 1983, Daniels College of Business
List the top challenges facing this board and how you would address them: One of the top challenges facing this board is a proposal from the Gov. Quinn to dramatically reduce the number of school districts in Illinois from 869 to no more than 300 in 2 years. The Chicago Tribune reported that if passed, a commission could redraw district boundaries possibly without voter approval or review by state lawmakers.
I strongly oppose Gov. Quinn’s school district consolidation plan. A state mandated plan that is rushed to implementation in 2 years is a recipe for disaster. The marriage of various smaller districts means the blending of many budgets, assets, debt obligations, staff cultures, various curriculum’s, collectively bargained agreements, parent & student expectations and much more. Complicated district integrations need to be approached and planned for carefully to insure that classroom instruction does not suffer.
John T Polacek
Home: Indian Head Park
Community / Political experience: Board Member, Lyons Township High School, District 204 since 1989
Other / Professional experience:
Chairman of the governing board of the Morton College Dental Assisting Program
Chicago Dental Society Patient mediation committee”
Education: BS, DDS
List the top challenges facing this board and how you would address them:
Improvement of student performance – Continue to support PLC program
Maintain the proper balance on spending by balancing the school budget
Continue to maintain and improve the facilities