Just out of curiosity, when did Elementary School District 103 request the village of Lyons for improvements on Joliet Avenue, including planters, which the district will have to maintain forever, and which will cost the District $45,000 per the intergovernmental agreement? 

Given their proximity to the street, does the location and design of those planters on the parkway (over which the district has no input or control per the agreement) pose a potential hazard to traffic on Joliet Avenue and subsequent liability for the district? 

Are the addition of those planters and the associated costs of purchasing and replacing plants, plus ongoing maintenance including water, labor and plant care products, a defensible expenditure of funds at a time when the district is cutting personnel to save money?

Who made this request to the village and what was the scope of the request? The superintendent? The board? And, if so, where is the record of a roll call vote in the board’s meeting minutes where this request (not the resultant agreement) was initially discussed and approved to go forward to the village by the board? Or did one or more board members act in violation of the School Code and their oath of office as “lone wolves” in pursuing this matter?

Normally, a project costing $45,000 would trigger School Code bidding requirements, which this agreement boot scoots around. In addition, this agreement does not allow the district to ascertain whether the cost of the improvements is reasonable or not, nor to verify that the contractors hired by the village are not debarred and have the requisite insurance and bonding. 

The agreement also does not provide the district with any means to ensure that agreement project-associated contractor and vendor employees onsite on district property have met the requirements of the School Code pertaining to background checks.

Finally, giving the village sole discretion over the satisfactory completion of the work as the agreement does, implies that the final inspection and approval of the work will be performed and granted by village of Lyons Building Department inspectors. 

According to the 2020 Village of Lyons PA 097-0609, two of the three building inspectors employed by Lyons may have the potential for conflicts of interest, one being a District 103 board member and the other, the spouse of a district board member. 

Given that the board member just mentioned is alleged to have violated board policies related to meeting procedures and the district is currently the subject of two separate Illinois Attorney General Public Access Counselor Requests For Review regarding possible Open Meetings Act violations, concern over a possible breach of fiduciary duty to the district arising from a conflict of interest is not unreasonable.

Toni Parker

Casselberry, Florida

Toni Parker is a former longtime Lyons resident.