Board Meeting 05.08.23


Photo By Katie Pfotenhauer

The new board discusses topics they would like to talk about at the board retreat for self-evaluation. The last board retreat was on July 29, 2021.

     On Monday, May 8, Kaneland Community Unit School District 302 hosted its regularly scheduled board meeting following two special meetings at 7 p.m. in the sixth-grade team room at Kaneland Harter Middle School. District Associate Superintendent Dr. Julie-Ann Fuchs, Vice President Jennifer Simmons, board member Ryan Kerry and senior and student ambassador Lindsay Yost were absent from the final meeting. Following the Pledge of Allegiance and roll call, the board members leaving bid their farewells. 

     Board members Meg Junk and Kerry are leaving the board along with President Teresa Witt.

     “This board has been one of the highest functioning boards I have served with. It is not because we all think alike but because we all think differently. We have all been willing to listen to one another,” Witt said.

     Following the recognition of leaving board members, concerned community members made public comments.

     Elburn resident, Kaneland High School physical education teacher and KHS head boys track and field coach Andy Drendel previously met with Director of Athletics and Activities David Rohlman and Director of Buildings and Grounds Mark Payton about resurfacing the track but found out it was delayed. 

     “It was brought to my attention [by a community member] that the district is now recommending that we postpone the resurfacing of the track and runways until 2028,” Drendel said. “In 1997, I was 11 years old, and I saw the track resurfaced, and 26 years later, it has not been resurfaced. I am now 36. The recommended life for a track surface is 8-10 years.”

     Due to the condition of the track, Drendel is concerned for the safety of his team. 

     “I can no longer tell our students, student-athletes, community members, parents and alumni with a straight face that we are doing what is best for the safety of our kids,” Drendel said.  

     After the public comments, Ryan Kleisner, Edmund Koch and Aaron McCauley were recognized as the new board members. 

     After the first special meeting, there was a second meeting to determine positions for the new board.

     President Addam Gonzales, Vice President Bob Mankivsky and Secretary Julie Orphal will now lead the board as executives.  

     As the new board members officially began serving their roles, the first item under discussion was the meeting dates and times. 

     “Monday is just a tough day in general for most people. [With wanting to] have the public and community a part of these meetings, I think that it is difficult to have a long weekend, go to work all day Monday and then come back out to a school board meeting,” Kleisner said. 

     While changing the date and time was discussed, the meeting time and date will remain the same. 

     Following the discussion of when the board meetings would happen, the board then discussed who would attend which committee meetings. 

     “I think that having the assigned attendance to the [committee meetings] is a great opportunity to connect with the community and be part of those discussions and hear what is going [on],” Gonzales said. “I think assigned attendance would be nice, but I do not have your schedule, and I know doing this already is a huge commitment.”

     After the second special meeting, the normal board meeting began. Following the Pledge of Allegiance and roll call, the board recognized staff members involved with the Kane County Educator of the Year event, staff members who have been in the district for 25 years and upcoming retirees.

     District Instructional Technology Coach Faye Licari was the winner for student support personnel for all of Kane County. 

     “[We are] one of the smaller districts of Kane County, and we tend to have the best attendance at the event because [we support] each other,” District Superintendent of Schools Dr. Todd Leden said.

     During the first opportunity for public comment deliveries, Kaneland Education Association President and Kaneland John Shields fourth grade teacher Kindra Schumacher suggested to the board to open up roundtable discussions after the previous board declined. 

     “The idea was to create roundtables between the school board and staff members. When I heard this idea, I thought it would be a great way for the Kaneland Education Association, as a stakeholder in the district, to sit down and have conversations with school board members about initiatives and directives they approve and share how it looks in practice,” Schumacher said. 

     Another comment was then made regarding safety. 

     “We are talking about the lowest common denominator that every person in this room should care about, and that is safety. [I do] not think anyone is going to push back on that,” Sugar Grove resident Chris Sutton said. 

     Following the public comments, the board moved to the report on the capital improvement plan, which was the first item under new business. 

     Due to the high school being the oldest building in the district, it is the one that costs the most to maintain. For 2024, the plan estimates that $1,223,000 will go into maintaining the high school. 

     The final item under new business was the approval of a board retreat for self-evaluation with a chance to review board agreements, receive formal training and set goals. 

     Board member Dr. Aaron Lawler remembers what it was like being a new board member and wants to make the transition easier. 

     “It is a one-and-done thing. Reflecting on my own experience when I first got on the board, it took me so many months to even [understand] the job,” Lawler said. 

     Following the approval of the retreat, Leden gave his report.

     Friday, May 19, is the last day of school for seniors, and on Sunday, May 21, at 5 p.m., the graduation ceremony will be held at Northern Illinois University. 

     The next board meeting will be held on May 31.