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Petition Calls on Dist. 308 Board Members to Resign Leadership

Long Beach Elementary parent Mary Zarembski says it's time for new leadership.

Parents in have started an online petition calling for three members of the school board to relinquish their leadership positions.

The petition, started by Mary Zarembski, calls for Board President Bill Walsh, Vice President Alison Swanson and Secretary Laurie Pasteris to step aside because of what Zarembski said has been 12 months of ineffective leadership, lack of transparency and an inability to communicate with the public. The petition also calls for more senior members of the board to fill those leadership roles.

Zarembski, a mother of two students, said she moved to the district eight years ago because of what she said was a progressive school system with vision. She started the petition last week because those ideals have disappeared, she said.

“The final straw really was the way in which the board hired the new assistant superintendent for business,” she said. “It was done with a complete lack of transparency. On top of that they’ve given the new hire such a raise. I really question their fiscal policy.”

Paul O’Malley, the new assistant superintendent of business, . His base salary is $180,000. He replaces , whose base salary in his final year was about $139,000.

Walsh has seen the petition and said this week that stepping aside has never crossed his mind.

"Just because there are tough challenges and issues to address, that is no reason to quit, thus I have never considered stepping down as president," he said. "It is important to remember that officers of the board of education have no additional voting power or influence, on issues.  The officers are just one of seven on the board."

So far, about 230 people have signed the petition, which is being hosted on the site change.org. One of those signers is Julie DiCaro of Aurora. She said she’s never met Zarembski, but decided to sign the petition based on the recent redrawing of district boundaries for Homestead Elementary School and proposals that would eliminate bus service for many Homestead students.

“A lot of us started paying more attention during the redistricting,” she said. “It’s absolutely our fault for not paying more attention during the election. That’s a mistake I won’t make again.”

Zarembski said she didn’t call for the board members to resign outright because she respects that they were elected.

“Elections have consequences. I get that,” she said. “But there has to be a balance. That’s where leadership comes in. The question is how do they plan to get all the stakeholders to work together? I think it’s important to let them know that we’re paying attention to what they do.”

Swanson urged parents to contact her directly with issues, and in the meantime plans to remain focused. 

"While I respect every American’s right to free speech, my first responsibility is to the voters who entrusted me to represent them and the 17,000 children in the Oswego District 308 School District," she said. "... As a community I would encourage you to have a direct conversation regarding important education matters.  It will help eliminate the miscommunications.  As always, I try to respect everyone’s opinions and appreciate all constructive concerns and criticisms.  I would also encourage you to contact your state representatives regarding proposed funding cuts."

Jack May 09, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Lee Hoffer, You are correct. Ben Franklin never used a pseudonym when expressing his opinions.
John Spasojevich May 17, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Todd was hired as principal at Thompson, at that time he stated that he was earning his PhD. Maybe they finally figured out he wasn't. the story of how he met the current Mrs. Colvin is rather interesting too
John Spasojevich May 17, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Too many people listened to the glowing reports from Realtors and builders reps, obviously their interest is in making money and they do that by selling you a house, they'll tell you anything to get you to buy. If you have kids, then this is the greatest district on the face of the earth. There is no substitute for doing your homework. I remember a meeting where a lady asked the board when they were going to build the school in her subdivision that the builder promised her. Hello....ever hear of a used car salesman....!!!
John Mills September 05, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Did the pay $41,000 increase for the new superintendent require less skill sets as well?If it didn't then District 308 is still in second place and it's not a special district!I Here's the good news,you can affect change that was brought about by influence from not so smart people on less smart people,or "people that should have known that the idiots they surrounded themselves with would eventually be there downfall", stakeholders that lead and oversee distinct clusters of stakeholders can easily put into action the simplest plan and it pretty much runs itself.
Concerned Citizen December 20, 2012 at 11:27 PM
John, Really? You are going to turn this into a gossip column. Is it really anyone's business where/how he met his wife?

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