University of Chicago Medicine Breast Cancer June 2022

Stagg’s image debated at District 230 meeting

 

Dueling views of Stagg High School briefly dominated the discussion at last Thursday’s meeting of the High School District 230 Board of Education.

“Even a perception of poor-quality schools can hurt a community in many ways, including property values,” said longtime education activist Bob Shelstrom, a former Palos Park resident and Stagg parent who now lives in Arizona but said he returns to the area on occasion “for certain business things.”

During the public-comment portion of the meeting, Shelstrom chided district officials for what he said are actions that make Stagg look less desirable than it is.

While he offered no data to back his claims, he said that people sometimes “run into real problems” selling homes in Stagg’s attendance area.

“Apparently, when buyers look at homes, they take a look and say, ‘Oh, that’s in Stagg High School’s district? What else have you got?’” Shelstrom said. “It’s a problem of perception and perhaps quality.”

He claimed that the problem can be found in Stagg’s school improvement plan, posted online, which he said focuses to much on “at-risk” students and discipline problems.

“I’ll tell you this right now,” Shelstrom said. “If I was moving into this area and I read that school improvement plan, there’s no way I’d move to Stagg’s district.”

He claimed that the focus on academically at-risk students ignored the majority of students.

“In the improvement plan, I see no questions about how do we get those kids with an ACT score of 25 up to a 28, nothing about how do we get those students to be National Merit Scholars…or how to we move students from a B to an A,” he added.

Shelstrom said that there are “pockets of excellence” at Stagg and “people are accomplishing amazing things,” but that the school board and administration are creating “the perception that Stagg is the poor stepchild of this district.”

He said that when he looks at Stagg’s improvement plan, he sees “a list of all sorts of discipline problems. The perception is that ‘Stagg’s got mostly at-risk kids, that’s their biggest problem’…and that isn’t the case. But it is damaging.”

Shelstrom contrasted Stagg’s plan with that of Sandburg High School, which he said focused less on at-risk students and more on the general student population. He cited the difference as evidence that the school board and administration consider Stagg “the poor stepchild” of the three-school district.

            Shelstrom did not hear board members’ response to his claims. He left the room before the end of the meeting.

Board member Tony Serratore defended the focus on at-risk students, after a presentation on Stagg’s Academic Mentor Program, which serves about 60 students a year and has documented success in improving test scores.

“We can’t let those [at-risk] kids drop through the cracks,” he said. “Yes, it’s great for the district that’s we’ve got great graduation rates and great ACT scores, but it’s also great for this district to say, ‘You know what? We help everybody here,’ and so, I am proud, as a board member, that you guys are doing this and keep doing this because this is what we’re all about, so I applaud you. This is just fantastic.”

Several on the board and in the audience wondered aloud about Shelstrom’s remarks coming less than two week before an election that includes a spirited race for three board slots.

“Mr. Shelstrom hasn’t addressed the board in at least two years, so I thought his timing was odd,” board President Rick Nogal said after the meeting.

Several board members also expressed displeasure with some of what they said were “wild” allegations flying about in the political whirlwind leading up to the election.

Kathy Quilty criticized those who claim that Stagg, Sandburg and Andrew High Schools have heroin problems. She said that while heroin may be an issue in the community at large, the schools “don’t have a heroin issue.”

Serratore challenged those who claim that the board is lacking in fiscal responsibility.

“Despite the fact that we’re not going to get all the categorical payments from the state—we have thus far received only one of four–we’re still going to be able to keep a balanced budget, because of our fiscal responsibility,” he said. “We look at things before we spend, we have one of the lower costs per student in the whole area.

“We have not raised the tax levy for the last two years, it’s been zero,” Serratore concluded. “But there’s misinformation out that there that we have raised taxes, and we have not.”

Also Thursday, more than 50 Stagg, Sandburg and Andrew students were cited for excellence in academics and athletics.

The next meeting of the District 230 Board of Education is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 30 at Stagg High School, 8015 W. 111th St., Palos Hills.

Photo by Tim Hadac

School-page-top-with-Dist-230-storypageX 3cols D230ParentsTakePix 040215-copy

District 230 parents clamor to take cell-phone photos of their children, who were recognized for academic excellence last Thursday night at Stagg High School.

 

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