D.205 board gets back to business of arguing

2014-03-12T21:24:00Z 2014-03-12T22:11:29Z D.205 board gets back to business of arguingBy Gregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 12, 2014 9:24 pm  • 

HARVEY | It was business as usual as the Thornton Township High School District 205 board met Wednesday for the first time this year, which means little business was accomplished. 

With an agenda packed with items that were due to be acted on in the last five months, enough members showed up Wednesday for a quorum, a feat not accomplished at scheduled meetings in January or February.  

School Board member Edward Crayton entered Wednesday's session saying he hoped a meeting would occur because, "We need to pay some bills."

Yet it was Crayton who, at one point, tried to stop payment of certain bills dating back to October and November.

He said he wanted more information about what services were performed by Vanguard Tech, BGH Consulting, Robinson Schultz and the Gemini Group, a public relations firm the district hired to help boost its public image.

"I'm not going to approve payment of bills that I'm not aware of what was done," Crayton said.

Crayton leads a board faction that opposes the policies of former board President Kenneth Williams, who was removed from that position last year by a Cook County judge because of a 29-year-old felony conviction in Indiana.

School Board Attorney Andrew Finko said he thinks Crayton should have brought up objections to the bills months ago, and said Crayton's actions, "put us at risk of being in breach of contract."

Yet among the bills that Crayton was questioning were three invoices from Finko seeking payment for his legal services.

The three board members who support Williams — Toni Williams, Judith Gibbs and Vice President Darren Robinson — tried to stall Crayton's actions, with Gibbs saying Crayton was not following protocol.

"This is a waste of time," Gibbs said.

The debate on the issue became confusing even to School Board members, with Kenneth Williams at one point having to shout instructions to the board about what members needed to do.

"Just vote. It won't pass anyway," he told his former board colleagues.

In the end, Crayton's move to delete certain bills from the list of those to be approved failed by a 3-3 vote (four votes are required for passage). Then, a measure to pay all the bills also failed by a 3-3 vote.

Board member Toni Williams, the wife of Kenneth Williams, was particularly critical of Crayton's actions.

"He doesn't want to pay the cleaning people," she said.

Some business did get approved, including measures related to paying for trips that students in various athletic and interscholastic activities took in recent months. Such approval usually is given before the action, yet the board was voting to approve field trips from back in December, January and February.

The board also voted to approve the 2014-15 school year, which will begin for students on Aug. 19 and will run through May 29, 2015, if no snow days are needed. The winter break will be Dec. 20 through Jan. 4, 2015, and spring break is April 3-10, 2015.

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