August 2010 Archives

Where should Joliet Steelmen play football?

Joliet Central Principal John Randich said he's heard all three sides. There's folks that want football games to be played at Joliet Memorial Stadium where the games used to be held until the schools combined teams.

Others think Joliet Central needs its own football field, bleachers, concession stand and lockers - just like Joliet West High School.

Then, others want the games to be held at Silver Cross Field. The big problem with Silver Cross Field is the price tag of $2,500 per game even after the upgrades the district puts in.

With the creation of two sports teams at both campuses, the district proposed installing artificial turf at Silver Cross Field in order to play games there. The district expects to pay $2.2 million to put in the artificial turf and for other improvements at the stadium.

In March, the JackHammers told the district it would cost $2,500 to use the field per day - the same amount charged to anyone else who would rent out the field. However, University of St. Francis which pays $2,100 per game as part of its long-term agreement.

Superintendent Paul Swanstrom said it's not fair that the district pay that amount. And, now the decision to come up with a cheaper rental fee is in the hands of the City of Joliet which owns the field and rents it out to the JackHammers.

What do you think - where should the Steelmen play football?

ROMEOVILLE - A fire alarm at Romeoville High School malfunctioned at about 6:05 a.m. today, causing staff to evacuate and students to head to the football stadium.

There were no students in the school at the time, but there was a small number of staff inside the school at 100 N. Independence Boulevard, said Larry Randa, spokesman for Valley View School District.

Security personnel immediately mobilized to keep arriving students outside the school. Once the Romeoville Fire Department determined there was no fire, a decision was made shortly after 7 a.m. to move students to the football stadium until the alarm could be silenced.

The fire alarm also malfunctioned during the summer when lightning struck the building. It was not immediately known if the summer incident and Thursday's incident were related, Randa said.

"I'm thrilled at the way they reacted to and handled the situation," said Romeoville High School Acting Principal Derek Kinder said in a press release. "These kids rise to every expectation we give them."

Students were allowed to return to their first period classes for attendance purposes just before 8 a.m. before they went to their second period classes.

He said what?

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Loriann Darmstadt (above right) and her sister, Sandy Lewendowski, protest in front of the Plainfield School District offices. Darmstadt was one of the female campus Monitors laid off. John Patsch/Staff Photographer

There was a lot of hope during the protest at Plainfield School District last month among the female campus monitors who lost their jobs due to gender and not seniority.

Fired campus monitor Lisa Allison had interviewed with an EEOC investigator who told her not to worry about her case. The investigator saw a resolution in the future through a mediation between the district and the campus monitors.

But Superintendent John Harper didn't think it was going to happen.


"The school district is not at liberty to negotiate with an individual who took it upon herself to file an EEOC claim. We will continue to negotiate with PASS, the duly recognized bargaining unit for the campus monitors," Harper said in an e-mail.

This upset Allison who had stayed up until midnight to see the story online.

This is what she wrote last month:

"I have to say that Dr. Harper's comment took me by surprise and angered me." Allison wrote.

"My dismay at the wrong doing that has been thrust upon me is that I can and will reach out to ANY entity that can assist me in my quest to have my civil rights honored," she said.

"In a million years I would have never envisioned having to contact the EEOC for any reason," she said. "I was hired as a female, approved to work in a campus monitor position for the district and now am suddenly losing my position just for being a female.
"I will shout from every platform I can that I was treated unfairly by District 202 and I will continue to shout for every other woman who also lost her job just for being female until this situation is corrected."

Allison had told the board members that they were not planning to go away.

"We are gaining momentum every single day in our search for justice," she said.
Well, they are on their way. They have hired an attorney for a discrimination lawsuit.

I have filed a Freedom of Information request to see how much the district has spent on lawyers for the grievance, lawsuit and charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint, Illinois Department of Human Rights complaint. So stay tuned.

Allison is now working 7.5 hours each week as a part-time lunch supervisor compared to last year when she worked 37.5 hours weekly with benefits.

Read my story here: Monitors back, but part-time

Also, the ladies were seen on Fox Chicago News Tuesday night. Check that out here: Plainfield Campus Monitors Say They Were Fired For Being Female

So what do you think? Should Plainfield School District mediate with EEOC on the campus monitor issue?

Time to blog

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First post

When it comes to blogs, I'm have been kind of shy about joining this form of social media. But now it's time. Why? Well, I feel bogged down with news. I come out of a school board meeting with millions of ideas, but I have been told I must share the space in the paper with my fellow reporters.
Blogging is fast and immediate. You don't have to wait a day or two for space to become available. After a board meeting, I am pumped and raring to write. This blog will be a great way to give you some interesting tidbits before it hits the paper which I know you will go out and buy because you want newspapers to live on forever. Why?
Well, unlike SOME of the press releases that school districts spit out - I'll get both sides of the story. That's my job. And, it's an awesome one and I'm proud to be part of the Fourth Estate.
Also, in this blog, I may be asking for some help on my next investigative piece. Because who will know best, but the parent, student, teacher, coach, administrator, school secretary, custodian, campus monitor, principal or taxpayer, wondering why is this happening and thinking, "Does anyone care about this, but me?"
So let's shine a light on our local school news - and see what happens.

Catherine Ann Velasco

Catherine Ann Velasco has covered education and children and family issues for The Herald-News since 1997. She keeps an eye on schools in Will and Grundy counties. Her best stories always come from readers’ tips or public comment during a board meeting. So if there’s some good news or bad news at your school – she’d like to know. Join the conversation about the twists and turns and surprises that pop up on her beat. And, find some extra news that she just can’t wait to tell you.


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