SOUTH HOLLAND | The School Board for Thornton Township High School District 205, which, for the past seven months has been stuck in a partisan stalemate that has kept much business from being accomplished, made efforts Wednesday to work together.
Some unresolved issues remain; the School Board failed to approve a measure that would have paid the district’s bills for the past month. It also did not approve payment for bills dating back to October that have gone unpaid because of differences among board members.
Those measures received votes of 3-3, with four votes being the minimum required for approval.
But, unlike board meetings in past months, board members did not engage in tirades against one another. The votes were taken, then they moved on.
Member Bernadette Lawrence said she and board members Edward Crayton and Lauren Green were not trying to harm the high school district with their opposition to bill-paying.
“There are certain vendors we don’t want to see paid until we get more information,” said Lawrence, who would not specify the companies.
In the past, Lawrence and Crayton have focused questions on companies awarded contracts with the support of former School Board President Kenneth Williams, and for the attorney fees requested by Andrew Finko, chosen by Williams’ allies on the board.
Board members supportive of Williams have said in the past there are measures in place that allow district Superintendent Stacey McJunkins to make emergency payments of bills to ensure the district’s three high schools remain open. But Lawrence said she is concerned because the financial statements of her actions are being signed by the district’s business manager, Robert Charnot, rather than by McJunkins.
"The superintendent can delegate authority by (school) board vote, but that doesn’t relieve the superintendent of responsibility for her actions,” Lawrence said.
Despite this difference, the School Board did make an effort to approve several measures on its agenda, with many receiving 6-0 votes.
Those included measures to rename a building at Thornridge High School in Dolton for David Eanes, who served as band director for 27 years, but is retiring later this year; to approve field trips to Washington, D.C., and to Normal, Ill., and to seek bids for a firm to construct a new softball field at Thornton High School in Harvey.
There even was agreement on a matter concerning the contract to SODEXO, the company that operates cafeterias at Thornton and Thornridge, along with Thornwood High School in South Holland.
Charnot recommended that the contract be extended, but the School Board voted 6-0 to defer any action until later this year, with Crayton and School Board member Toni Williams – usually the most outspoken critics of each other – agreeing there have been too many complaints from students and parents about food service to merely renew the contract without further discussion.