D135 Board Member Calls for President to Step Down
Orland School District 135 board member Mary Bragg called for president John Carmody to leave the board, citing a violation of board policy about conversations between board members.
Orland School District 135 Board Member Mary Bragg called for Board President John Carmody to resign at the Nov. 12 meeting, claiming he violated a board policy about communication between board members.
The District 135 board narrowed down its list of candidates for a permanent superintendent after a series of interviews recently. Though not all members have been included on conversations about the candidates, according to Bragg.
“Too many times we have walked into public meetings without the proper information to be prepared for the meeting discussion,” Bragg said. “The board president is responsible for making sure all members are all informed. He doesn’t keep all board members informed. He calls his quorum buddies on the board and doesn’t follow up and inform the rest of us.”
Bragg cited D135 board policy 137, which prohibits use of email by a majority quorum to conduct board business. She said the conversations about the superintendent search, where she and other members were left out, begun in October. She also cited the board’s oath, recited after a new member is elected.
Bragg called for a meeting to bring all board members on the same page about the superintendent search, and was denied it, she said.
“John Carmody has violated his authority in the position as president of the school board,” Bragg said. “Any time we can request a meeting to be called. He refused to call the meeting, and wrote in an email that I was a bully and a bore, and he’ll make sure to remember to help me not get re-elected.”
Carmody declined to respond to Bragg’s insistence that he resign. He deferred to board vice president Ann Gentile, who serves as community relations liaison for the board, and she had no comment on the matter.
Tax Levy Increase Passed
The D135 board voted in favor of a 3 percent tax levy increase for the next fiscal year, with five votes in favor and member Joe LaMargo was the single vote against. Board member Lynne Donegan was unable to attend the meeting.
The 3 percent increase was put in to account for the most recent teacher’s contract, agreed upon after months-long deliberation between the teacher’s union and school district, according to staff. D135 teachers’ cost of living increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index, which sets a cap of how much a school district can increase a tax levy each year. The CPI for the next fiscal year is 3 percent.
LaMargo said that he was silenced during the Nov. 12 meeting when trying to ask questions about the possibility of lowering the levy. He has spoken against the levy before, saying district taxpayers are already paying enough in taxes.
“What I was disappointed about is that not so much that they increase the levy with that much sitting in the bank,” LaMargo said. “I was trying to have a professional open discussion so I can get these questions of mine answered. And I wanted the board members to hear that a 1.5 percent levy could be made.”
Board member Tom Cunningham said every opportunity was available for questions to be asked at the meeting.
“You get what you pay for in life,” Cunningham said about the levy increase. “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say we have to support the teachers, and come back 10 months later and say you can’t put it back on taxpayers.”
District 135 Asst. Supr. of Business Services John Reiniche said the board could have passed a lower tax levy, but a factor in Cook County’s finance system called “loss and cause” would have set the levy with a 3 percent increase regardless of the board’s decision.
“We could have levied lower, but the board felt it was disingenuous to the community in saying we’re going to a zero percent or a lesser amount, though the county would go up 3 percent,” Reiniche said. “The board wanted to be transparent, and to honor the collective bargaining agreement with the teachers’ union.”
All other motions at the Nov. 12 meeting passed with a 6-0 vote.
Looking for more school stories?