After a three-year detour, the Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 Board of Education is poised at a special meeting on July 19 to name Patrick Patt and Robert Madonia their team of interim superintendents.
The move will bring back one half of the interim team that was unceremoniously booted from the district office back in 2015 after a slate of candidates aligned with Lyons Village Hall was elected.
That board takeover in 2015 resulted in a slew of politically motivated moves, from the installation of a new legal counsel to the hiring of Kyle Hastings as interim superintendent and then keeping him in a newly created post of assistant superintendent.
The new board installed new principals and a human resources director with no human resources experience, but with political ambitions. They brought in a new, politically connected auditor and a business manager whose tenure was notable for how quickly she was forced out.
They brought in a maintenance director, whose actions ran afoul of the Illinois Department of Public Health before the school board had to fire him. Not to worry, he promptly landed in the arms of the village of Lyons, as its public works director.
And they brought in a new superintendent, Carol Baker, who had connections to the political regime that swept into power in 2015, but who had significant qualifications as an educator, albeit at the high school level.
We’ll say this for Baker: She handled the job with poise and despite the political carnival that surrounded her, Baker focused her attention on education in a district that had plenty of problems before she got there and will continue to face challenges in the future.
Certainly, her new job as the curriculum director in Hinsdale High School District 86 is a better fit for her, and we wish her well in that post.
If she could only take Kyle Hastings with her. While almost all the main administration characters brought in during 2015-16 have been tossed overboard, fled in the face of a new board majority that was elected in 2017 or were outright fired, Hastings has survived.
In the last year or so, his contributions have been fairly marginalized by the school board. He worked just 24 days – at $1,032.50 per day! – last school year, and this year reportedly will be ratcheted down to 12 days.
But his contract runs through June of 2020, thanks to the former school board majority, so District 103 taxpayers can expect to be paying something to Hastings until then, unless he finally gets bored and takes his leave.
Now the school board needs to turn its attention to hiring a superintendent that can focus on children instead of politics, and voters need to make sure that in 2019 they keep coming out to guarantee the influence of Lyons Village Hall remains over on Lawndale Avenue where it belongs.
What the parents, students and faculty in District 103 don’t need is for 2015 to replay itself. That experience caused enough havoc the first time around.