Teacher Union Election Campaign Continues at Prairie Grove Grade School District Meeting – Part 1

2013 Prairie Grove Grade School Board results.

2013 Prairie Grove Grade School Board results show incumbents Charlotte Kremer, Laura Domoto, Vicki Marconi and Mischelle Yantis losing to the teacher union backed candidates Laura Barker, John Bowman, Margaret Pongo and Rick Salvo.

It started with the 22-month long contract negotiations between the Prairie Grove Elementary School Board and the Illinois Education Association affiliate called the Prairie Grove Teachers Association.

Word is that there were harsh words during the negotiations until at the end they were brought into the sunlight, so to speak, and the public was allowed to watch what was going on.

Then, a minor disagreement resulted in a strike.

That it was minor is evidenced by strike’s being only one-day.

It was over before I got a chance to go out and take a photo.

Then the IEA Prairie Grove Teachers Association decided to run a slate against the four incumbents.

The candidates backed by the teachers’ union,

  • Laura Barker
  • John Bowman
  • Margaret Ponga
  • Rick Salvo

beat the highest vote getter among the incumbents, Laura Domoto, by 38 votes.  All four were elected.

Take a look at the door-to-door campaign piece of the IEA Four:

The front of the door hanger from the IEA=backed candidates.

The front of the door hanger from the IEA-backed candidates.

Sorry for the fuzziness of the copy.  (If anyone sends me a clearer copy, I shall substitute the images.)

The slate promises

The IEA campaign piece starts off with the strike.  It is almost as if the strike was part of the campaign plan.  The attorney’s fees for teacher contract negotiation, $47,442, are cited as wasteful spending.   It claims Prairie Grove Grade School District pays its administrators more than others in McHenry County are paid and high administrative overhead in the district whose student population is now about 800.  Finally, the campaign piece complains there no place “where the public is invited to participate.”

19th Century military theorist Carl von Clausewitz said, “War is the continuation of Politik by other means.”

The over six-hour meeting Tuesday night (ending shortly after one AM) certainly demonstrates that if one replaced the word “war” with “meetings” in von Clausewitz’ axiom, not much has changed since the 1800’s.

The full house attending the Prairie Grove Grade School Board meeting seems to contradict the Board winners' campaign contention that opportunities to provide input is lacking.

The full house attending the Prairie Grove Grade School Board meeting seems to contradict the Board winners’ campaign contention that opportunities to provide input is lacking.

At the first meeting, the new ruling coalition voted themselves into all of the offices, which were vacated when the incumbents lost.

Elected Board President was Margaret Ponga.

She ran Tuesday night’s marathon meeting.

(Background to the meeting from the now-outsiders’ viewpoint can be found here.)

Read the agenda and you can see why it took over six hours.

Two of the agenda items demonstrate how the teachers’ union exercised its new power in District 46:

7. Approval of the termination of all business with Ottosen Britz Kelly Cooper Gilbert & DiNolfo, Ltd effective May 14, 2013.

8. Appoint Robbins Schwartz as interim counsel to conduct all legal business until such time new legal representation has been decided by the board of education.

But, ironically, the law firm that handled the teacher negotiations fired the Board before the new Board could terminate it.

Nevertheless, the new Board majority insisted on passing a motion to terminate the Ottosen law firm.

Another irony is that the old law firm charged $195 per hour, while the new, interim one charges $235 per hour.

There will be a search for new permanent legal representation.

= = = = =
More tomorrow.


Teacher Union Election Campaign Continues at Prairie Grove Grade School District Meeting – Part 1 — 8 Comments

  1. Thanks for taking the time to report on this mess of a School Board, CAL.

    That is true dedication to stick it out for SIX HOUR MEETING!

    What a joke Margaret Ponga is…

    Id like to mention that this District has led the County in test scores and has been exceptionally run (in this citizen’s opinion) for the past 4-5 years.

    Furthermore the Superintendent that they are trying to run out of town has been reported to be a finalist for multiple Districts in a similar role.

    Why is this foolish Ponga trying to run her out of town?!?

    Seriously – what has she done wrong!?!?

    THE DISTRICT IS THE HIGHEST SCORING IN THE AREA and has won NUMEROUS AWARDS under her tenure from what I have read!

    What more are you looking for MRS PONGA?!?!

    PONGA is a gross representation of our community – a truly self obsessed, self righteous thug.

    The teachers union and voters who backed her (and her puppets) should be embarrassed to be messing up such a strong District.

    Or is it the Teachers Union who is really pulling the strings?

    Who is heading that group??

    That would be interesting to know.

    Thanks again CAL – looking forward to reading your PART TWO!

  2. So… if everything is so rosy with the district then why did the administration and the old board want to change the curriculum?

    There has been nothing but turmoil in the school since this new Superintendent got here! She was hired to keep your already low taxes lower at the expense of the students.

    You guys want cheap taxes move to another district and see what education your kids get.

    Better yet move down south!

    You can keep all that money and your kids will barely be able to read.

    You get what you pay for!

  3. To the contrary, anonymous, every single study I’ve seen has shown that there is exactly zero correlation between teacher salaries and student outcomes.

    See, e.g., https://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/loebpage.pdf .

    The argument that “We need to pay teachers more FOR. THE. KIDS.” is a load of horse manure.

    The kids of Prairie Grove have good outcomes because it’s a predominantly upper-middle-class-to-wealthy community.

    The question is whether the teachers make them better, all other things being equal.

  4. Dear Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous1; You are OBVOIUSLY a teacher union thug yourself.

    mattmac is 100% correct, there is absolutely no correlation between paying teachers more money and student outcomes.

    That is a complete fallacy put out by the “do it our way or else we will hurt you and your children” Teachers Unions.

    These people do not care about children, they care about themselves and their own pockets.

    Evidenced by the fact that they do eat their young and don’t care that the public knows that they do.

    What is going on in this now very messed up district is the Union has taken over.

    They have always wanted to regain the control they had 8 years ago under a completely ineffective superintendent.

    The last two superintendents cleaned up severe corruption and double dipping by the union, and they hated that and want their power over the district back.

    The union is behind the claim that the district has too many administrators because without administrators, no one is watching them and they can get over on the taxpayers. This is old guard protectionism behavior and is by far worse than the teamsters. These people are not teachers of anything except the examples of how they will hurt others to gain power. What a disgusting example to set for children.

    Last year at this time they donned their black shirts and demonstrated in front of children and their families as they visited the school for open house.

    An event that was supposed to be about the celebration of children and their achievements, became a sick example of power and control.

    These people are an abomination and must be exposed.

    Cal, great job, keep up the pressure and maybe the taxpayers will have a fighting chance.

  5. Nothing good will come until the board of seven can work together.

    Give it a chance.

  6. Teacher union thugs!

    No need to say anymore Unanimous7.

    Because whenever I think of well educated teachers I think of people with baseball bats and brass knuckles! LOL!

    And I also don’t deny that necessarily high pay leads to better students but how about you fire them all and put in new, inexperienced, poorly paid and see what happens.

    Seems like what you guys want.

    How do you explain that this district isn’t the highest paid by any stretch of the imagination yet still have some of the highest scores in the STATE!?

    Also how do you explain there has been little or no turnover at this school in the last decade?

    Yet no one wants to invest in those teachers.

    If this were a business and the teachers only wanted more money they would go elsewhere for higher pay.

    They do it because they care!

    I frankly don’t understand why some of them stay the way they get treated by the administration and some board members.

    Domoto is just an obstructionist.

    That is typical modern day GOP tactics.

    We lost so therefore rather then try and workout a compromise lets just go in and shout and holler.

    Good luck with that.

  7. Anony1:

    You must have been asleep, check out the real facts, there has indeed been turnover.

    Just not the highest paid baggage we really need to get off the roles!

    There have been people who have left teaching altogether at this district due to burn-out because this Union keeps it’s youngest and brightest chained to their pyramid scheme.

    The district had tossed a few overboard too (Thank Goodness).

    But then you do completely understand how difficult it is to get rid of a poor performing protected Union member.

    They don’t need baseball bats and brass knuckles, they have you.

    You do their ‘dirty work’ for them.

    Engaging in political espionage and counter distractions such as false accusations (which bye the way cost taxpayers a significant amount more in legal fees than using an attorney to negotiate a contract) when you are in pursuit of something you don’t want anyone to try to figure out – like giving high dollars to the teachers disguised as a “formula”.

    We got your number, we are crystal clear after all these years on exactly how you operate.

    “Good Luck with that” – right back at you!

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