Departures, survey results point to problems in District 54
To the Editor,
I have recently read the MDH article “Is consolidation of Morris school districts feasible?” and the on-line comments in response to the article. Four of the seven comments were against consolidation because of the state, condition, drama (whatever terminology you choose to call it) that is unmistakably evident in District 54.
I cannot blame anyone for not wanting to consolidate with District 54. The District is certainly in disorder. District 54 has developed a revolving door and I think the community needs to start asking, why? Additionally, this door has recently started spinning quite rapidly. Let’s start with the early departure of Principal Sheryl Dzuryak at the end of school year 2009-2010, moving forward to the abrupt departure of Principal Kim Payton and Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Julie Stevens at the end of school year 2010-2011. The departure of these two well liked, extremely competent women hit the community hard.
Now move forward to the recently completed school year of 2011-2012 and the beginning of 2012-2013. By my count, District 54 has had 14 employees vacate their positions. FOURTEEN! Starting in February with the Populations Coordinator, a White Oak Secretary in March, the District Printer and School Psychologist in May, then the Special Populations Secretary, a White Oak Teacher, and two very experienced Shabbona Teachers moved up their retirement, all in June.
These two teachers moved their retirement forward by two years. In July District 54 lost two 1st year teachers from White Oak and the long time very qualified School Nurse. Coming up in August the District 54 Agenda should include the resignation of yet another Shabbona Teacher, another 1st year White Oak Teacher and the veteran Health Aide from White Oak. All 14 resignations have taken place in just the past seven months, February 2012, through July 2012 according to the District 54 Board Meeting Agendas. Three of these resignations should appear on the August 2012 Board Meeting Agenda.
All of the above, accompanied with the results of the District 54 Climate & Culture Survey, should be sending out a very loud and clear message to the community. Did you know that 38.2 percent Disagree and 16.2 percent Strongly Disagree that District 54 is a supportive and inviting place for staff to work? That is over 50 percent. Additionally, did you know that 63.2 percent disagree that District 54 promotes trust and collegiality among staff? 50 percent Disagreed and 13.2 percent Strongly Disagreed. When asked if District 54 provides materials, resources and training needed to do your job effectively, once again a total of over 50 percent disagreed, 41.4 percent disagreed and 14.2 percent strongly disagreed. No wonder the revolving door is spinning so rapidly.
With this being said, it doesn’t really surprise me that District 54 is losing its support staff, special populations staff, and teachers. The new, the extremely experienced, and the tenured are leaving, and it appears to be hurriedly.
According to its own Climate & Culture survey the District is not providing the teachers with the materials, resources, proper training,and support in order for them to perform to the best of their ability. The district is considered to be uninviting, and non-supportive, and the person in the highest position of authority is not trusted.
If the teachers have all these frustrations, worries and fears, they are unable to work to the best of their ability which filters to the ultimate question of: what kind of education are the children of District 54 currently receiving?