The school year is drawing ever closer and things in Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 seem as chaotic as ever.
With a new board majority in control, several administrators hired in the wake of the 2015 election have fled rather than face what would appear to be inevitable termination at the end of the 2017-18 school year.
On Monday, two more director-level employees cut the cord. Curriculum Director Natacia Campbell is skipping out to become human resources director at another school district – a decision that screams “get me out of here” from someone whose entire career has been spent as a teacher and curriculum director.
And the district is now without a technology staff, with the departures of both Technology Director John Williamsen and the district’s network administrator, whose resignation was also accepted by the school board on Monday.
The school district’s superintendent cited a lack of support from the new school board majority as a reason for the sudden departures, but the new board can hardly be blamed for raised eyebrows regarding administrative hires in the past two years.
The district is still saddled with an assistant superintendent, whose presence the new board apparently is attempting to keep down to a minimum. And while the departing administrators might have expressed surprise at the tenor of political discourse in District 103, we can’t say we’re entirely sympathetic.
The tenor of the political discourse was established in 2015 by the folks who hired them. The outrage and eventual reversal at the ballot box that followed what amounted to a hostile takeover of District 103 was in reaction to that. And while Campbell may have been well received as her year-long tenure progressed, the same cannot be said for several other administrators hired in the past two years.
In the meantime, the district now faces $20,000 in fines from the Illinois Department of Public Health due to lax or non-existent record keeping and best practices regarding the presence and removal of asbestos from school district buildings.
And the person that the district ought to be relying on to address building maintenance is one of the administrators in whom a majority of the school board doesn’t have a ton of confidence. In fact, it was work the maintenance director allegedly green-lighted in February that led to the state’s Department of Public Health to begin poking around in the first place.
The administrative structure of District 103 remains broken, and over the next year it will be critical for the school board to seek elementary school pros to fill these key positions and allow the board to refocus on delivering quality education to students.
There’s another election just around the corner in 2019. District 103 can’t afford another reversal at the polls, so this school board needs to succeed in picking people who want to serve as change agents to reinvent District 103 as a 21st century school district.
That, of course, should be everyone’s goal. But, as we know too well, that isn’t everyone’s goal.