Lori McConnville’s Letter of Resignation from Prairie Grove School Board

Thought readers might be interested in what this former Democratic Party candidate for the McHenry County Board had to say when she resigned from the teacher union-dominated Prairie Grove District 46 School Board:

November 11, 2014

Statement to the Prairie Grove School Board of Education and the Community of School District #46:

I was a School Board Member for almost 4 years, dedicated to serving my community and the children of District 46, working with my colleagues to improve the learning experience for our children.

Under the current conditions of this dysfunctional Board, I cannot continue.

So with a heavy heart, as of Saturday, November 8, 2014 I formally resigned my position as School Board Member of Prairie Grove Consolidated School District #46.

My decision is threefold.

First and foremost, I must get my priorities back in order and put my focus back on my business and the financial obligations that are incurred by being a small business owner.

I cannot continue to devote my time to the school board under the current frustrating conditions and give my business the attention it deserves.

The demands of the current board from my point of view are too great.

There are some things I want to be known.

It is obvious that those who hold the majority on this school board are pushing hard and fast to meet promised goals without regard to taxpayers, which is the case with the current HVAC proposal.

It is not good practice to make decisions for our community on emergency timelines, when there is no emergency.

That is how I feel about the current facilities plan and the potential to spend over $1.5 million quickly.

Three of the new Prairie Grove Grade School Board members. John Bowman.  Right, Rick Salvo(Help me out with names, please.)

Three of the new ruling clique of the Prairie Grove Grade School Board.  Board President Margaret Pongo is flanked by two elected with her, John Bowman on the left and Rick Salvo on the right.

Do you understand that there has not been a discussion at the Board level or an analysis regarding whether or not the problems of air quality and humidity would be solved with this proposal?

Is it prudent to spend this amount of money, potentially $4 million on the current elementary building considering its age?

Are the taxpayers willing to assume this debt?

Even though I understand the need to improve our facilities, I am not convinced that the decision needs to be done in the next several months.

And finally do you know that all that money could be spent without voter approval?

These are important questions that I tried to discuss, but couldn’t slow the process down long enough to get considered.

My second reason for resigning is that the leadership of this school at the Board level is not conducive to collaboration.

It is my opinion that the goals of the School Board are being driven only by the agenda of a few with complete disregard to the School Board as a governing body.

Please listen beyond the polite voice of the Board President that is in front of the community – it is a mask for control and does not represent the voice of the school board or the community as a whole.

Third, I am putting forth an aggressive action, by resigning to signal to the community, citizens, and staff, that you need to pay attention.

My decision to resign rests on a few factual examples that point to the blatant disregard of the School Board as a unified decision-making body.

  • The Strategic Plan, which was developed by the community, is NOT being used to guide decision making for this district; rather, items to be discussed are being cherry-picked and decisions are being made to fulfill promises and personal agendas.
  • There has not been thorough discussions of school finances with all board members to give a broad understanding of the past, the present and the future, and there is a real reluctance to learn about and trust the financial reporting on current issues.
  • Committees of the Whole (where the public was invited and allowed to participate) were discontinued without Board consensus, and instead the Board President is calling committee meetings without member consensus, where the public and board members not assigned to those committees are NOT ALLOWED to participate.  This gives the appearance of a process, when, in fact, the decision making is actually being led by force.
  • Margaret Ponga

    Margaret Ponga

    Direct advocating for the teacher’s union by the current President have occurred. For example bonuses of $30,000 at retirement and a request to be involved in upcoming negotiations. Actions such as this deteriorate the relationship between the school board and the administration. The working relationship between the Board and Union is harmed and make it virtually impossible for compromise.

  • The President takes it upon herself to have exchanges with companies on behalf of the school without the proper authority of the Board. This occurred with Enventure, the power plant developers, to get our school money for air conditioning. This makes me distrust our leadership to deliver the Board’s decisions, and through that experience I am concerned about the side conversations being held with Siemens, over the proposed facility changes to which the entire Board is not privy.
  • And lastly, there have been no initiatives since the change in board representation that are benefitting the direct education of our students.

These points of fact signal to me that this School Board is being covertly controlled by a few individuals, led by the current Board President, to satisfy some obscure agenda rather than the well-being of our school and community.

Lastly, I am good with my decision though I know I am angering some people, and I am not pleasing others. But I do feel a great obligation to speak my opinion and tell you what I’m seeing. Personally, I have nothing to gain by serving on a school board, other than the satisfaction of being involved in my community and participating in our democracy. My passions and goals in life are to respect the safety and security of our children, protect the environment, and do my part to ensure all voices are heard. So I’m asking you, please take your local politics seriously. The election of those who ask to serve on your behalf directly impact your quality of life, the money in your pocket, and the education of your children. Be vigilant citizens and seek information before casting your vote.

Respectfully submitted,

Lori J. McConville


Lori McConnville’s Letter of Resignation from Prairie Grove School Board — 7 Comments

  1. She’s telling is it’s corrupt.

    In this day and age…

    Anyone surprised?

  2. Look at all of these posts on Cal’s blog showing massive deceit toward the taxpayers of McHenry County.

    These must be stopped just like Oakwood Hills, and Anna may Miller’s deception on Randall & Algonquin to name a few.

    The list is long on who the voters need to get rid of but in the meantime follow the citizens’ of Oakwood Hills lead.

    D46 parents & taxpayers ought to be furious and out in droves.

    I hope Lori sent her letter to every parent at the school.

    THIS on top of Springfield trying to fraud the county’s taxpayers too!

    Sure hope Rauner does something about the teachers unions because it can all be traced back to them and their demands.

  3. HadEnough and all others who comment on this blog. Go to the Rauner website for sending recommendations on what you want done. http://makeillinoisgreat.com/

    Complaining on this blog may make you feel you are doing something to make Illinois a better place but you MUST get involved personally to make a difference.

    Your elected officials are being led around by the ring in their nose which is being held by PUBLIC UNION AND NON UNION EMPLOYEES.

    Those union AND non-union employees are EXPERTS at getting elected officials to do what they want.

    A recent example was how Donna Kurtz was manipulated in filling the County Board room with people who supported the totally unnecessary expenditure of over one half million taxpayer dollars!!

  4. Yet another example of an uphill battle faced by an elected or appointed reformer on an Illinois board or commission.

    Wearing down reformers is a strategy of the status quo practiced repeatedly on school boards all over the state.

    From the article.
    “…bonuses of $30,000 at retirement.”


    School boards should NEVER give a bonus to a retiring employee with a TRS pension fund.

    The TRS pension fund already provides overly generous pension benefits.

    Overly generous pension benefits means employee contributions are very low compared to pension benefits thanks to legislative benefit hikes, and for many school districts, the practice where the board “picks up” some or all of the employee contribution to the pension fund.

    It’s YOUR taxpayer money that you could be using to contribute to YOUR 401k or IRA but no they want more.

    Their pension is FAR more generous than your 401K, IRA, and Social Security.

    It should be illegal to provide retiring teachers and administrators a bonus.

    Pension pickups should be illegal.

    These board members are serving the employees not the public.

  5. Let’s take a look at Prairie Grove CSD 46 and how public school monopoly bureaucracies operate in Illinois.

    CSD = Consolidated School District.

    It’s an elementary school district.

    Enrolls about 800 students from the communities of Prairie Grove, Crystal Lake, and Burton’s Bridge.

    The schools are Prairie Grove Elementary and Prairie Grove Junior High, both located at 3223 IL Route 176 in Crystal Lake.

    Graduates move on to attend high school in Community HSD 155 (Cary-Grove High School, Prairie Ridge High School, Crystal Lake South High School, and Crystal Lake Central High School).

    HSD = High School District.

    The teacher union is the Prairie Grove Teachers’ Association, IEA-NEA.

    IEA = Illinois Education Association, the statewide teacher union.
    NEA = National Education Association, the nationwide teacher union.

    Teachers contribute union dues to all three unions.

    If teachers opt out of the union, they still have to contribute fair share fees to the union.

    Prairie Grove Teachers’ Association is part of IEA Region 23 which is based at 2230 Point Boulevard, Suite 400, Elgin.

    That is likely where the local teacher union will interview school board candidates during school board elections, to endorse candidates to their local union members.

    There is also a union for the support staff.

    Prairie Grove Education Support Professionals Association, IEA-NEA.

    The school board members likely belong to the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB).

    The principals might belong to the Illinois Principals Association (IPA).

    The administrators might belong to the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA).

    The financial officer might belong to the Illinois Association of School Business Officials (IASBO).

    Those four organizations make up the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance.

    The IEA is exponentially more powerful than the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance in the Illinois General Assembly.

    For a very simple reason.

    The IEA has more members, more money, more lobbyists.

    The IEA has a large database with all collective bargaining agreements from all districts, and are able to do sophisticated queries and analysis.

    The alliance has no such system.

    The local teacher union is the largest influence on local school board elections for the same reason.

    Plus most people trust the recommendation of a teacher.

    The teachers must know what’s best for the students.

    All of the above organizations have annual conferences.

    In most communities schools are the largest or one of the largest employers.

    The largest portion of your property tax bill goes to schools.

    A large chunk of the State and Federal budget goes to schools.

    Yet no matter how much money is spent, there always seems to be a shortage of money.

    One way for schools to come up with more money is through non-referendum working cash bonds, or non-
    referendum life safety bonds.

    Maybe that’s what the Prairie Grove school board is considering for the HVAC system.

    Now why can’t they save money for the HVAC system, instead of issuing bonds?

    One reason might be because the teacher union scours the budget and if there is any money in the
    savings account declares that money can be used to hike the collective bargaining agreement or

    Because the school district must remain competitive with neighboring school districts.

    In the meantime the neighboring teacher unions make the same claim.

    And the cycle repeats endlessly.

    The only “competition” is with neighboring school districts.

    It’s a government monopoly.

    It would be as if you had to buy all your merchandise at Wal-mart.

    There was no Target, K mart, Aldi, Jewel, Goodwill, Kohles, etc.

    And if you wanted to buy something in another store, you would have to another “district.”

    Keep that in mind when you watch Mockingjay Part 1 this weekend.

  6. Here are the current members of the Prairie Grove School District 46 School Board.

    Board President: Margaret Ponga
    Vice President: Rick Salvo
    Secretary: John Bowman
    Board Members:
    Laura Barker
    Tara Rand
    Khushali Shah
    Lori J. McConville just resigned.

    Most school boards have seven members.

    In rural regions, some school boards have fewer members.

    School board members are not paid for their service.

    Here’s the board email address.

    Does anyone in the administration read board emails?

    That does happen across the state.

    Unless there is a board policy prohibiting the administration from reading emails addressed to the board, the administration could read board emails.

    The board may or may not be aware of such email monitoring.

    That practice is not uncommon in school districts and community college districts.

    Chris Jenner brought this very fact up recently as he is a board member sitting on the McHenry County College board.

    So now McHenry County board has email addresses for specific board members.

    As opposed to one email address for all board members.

  7. Those parents will only come out in “droves”, when you seriously challenge the union’s with lockouts.

    They’ll be screaming to do anything, to keep their free daycare services uninterrupted.

    Just try telling school administration they have to re staff schools, after firing union workers for not coming to terms.

    ‘What? We have to earn these $200 K salary’s we smoozed our way into?’

    Property Taxpayers are screwed.

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