New Lyons-Brookfield District 103 school board members Marge Hubacek and Shannon Johnson had a two hour get-to-know-you meeting Monday afternoon with Superintendent Carol Baker at the district’s administration building.
Hubacek and Johnson had been critical of Baker during the recent school board election campaign. Baker has also come under criticism from parents who are supporters of Hubacek and Johnson.
That criticism has only increased in the wake of Baker’s distribution of an online ad for that featured suggestive photos of the adult granddaughter of longtime board member Joanne Schaeffer.
At last week’s school board meeting, parents presented to the school board a petition of “no confidence” in Baker, signed by 100 people.
Hubacek, who was elected school board president shortly after being sworn in on April 27, said she’s willing to give Baker the benefit of the doubt and described Baker as “receptive” to hearing about the new board majority’s concerns.
“I’m going to take her at her word until I can’t,” Hubacek said. “And hopefully that will never happen and it’ll turn out to be a good relationship.
“I’m going to give her a chance, but I’m going to hold her accountable. Everyone’s going to be held accountable.”
Baker reportedly told Hubacek and Johnson that her hands were tied during the year she has led District 103 by a school board majority that was politically controlled.
“I don’t assume people are lying to me until I find out they are,” Hubacek said. “I don’t assume people are trying to pull something fast until they do.”
Johnson said she, too, will give Baker a chance to prove herself, but was skeptical of Baker’s protestations.
“My take is that she’s trying to make nice,” Johnson said. “I think she knows the writing on the wall is that we’re not happy with her. She’s trying to get us on her good side, and I kind of see through her B.S. She was trying to make up every excuse in the book and it’s not flying for me.”
Johnson said that Baker’s actions will have to match her words.
“I told her flat out, ‘I’m hearing what you’re saying, I’m hearing what you’re claiming but until I see you doing something about it, I’m not going to believe you,'” Johnson said.
For her part, Baker said in an email that she thought the meeting went well.
“We had an open conversation about working together for the best interests of the kids in the school district,” Baker said. “I look forward to getting back to the business of running the school district and focusing on improving instruction so that all students can succeed.”
Last month the old school board, with a majority of members elected with the help of Lyons Village President Christopher Getty, extended Baker’s contract until 2021.
Baker received harsh criticism during the public comment period of last week’s school board meeting focusing largely, but not entirely, on her distributing the online ad, which was seen as a last-minute ploy to hold onto the board majority by embarrassing Schaeffer and convincing her to resign.
“I don’t understand how you can go home at night, look your children in the face, go to bed and look yourself in the mirror knowing that you did that to another person,” Helen D’Ambrosio told Baker last week. “You owe Joanne an apology and you owe these parents and taxpayers of this district an apology for your bad behavior.”
Going forward, Hubacek said that she wants transparency to be a hallmark of the new school board and the district.
“I want to be so transparent that people call us Saran Wrap,” Hubacek said. “The only things I don’t want people to get is the stuff that we can’t legally give them.”