Recently in Joliet Township High School District Category

There are three incumbents and three newcomers vying for four seats on the Joliet Township High School Board during the April 5th election.

Most agree on the concept of bringing back students who receive special education services at other schools outside the district. However, they say one must tread carefully.

Incumbents Arlene Albert, Chet June and Jeff Pierson are hoping to keep their seats.
Newcomers Paige Stonich-Vanderhyden, Don "Duck" Dickinson and John G. Linehan are hoping for a win.

Joliet Township High School Board wants to do what Plainfield did. They are moving closer toward their goal by moving its school buses to another site. The district will then have space to turn the current transportation building into classroom space for special education students.

This school year, Plainfield School District brought back special education students from out-of-district facilities to save money.

The JTHS board asked administration to look into the issue.

In the 2009-10 school year, there were 132 special education JTHS students placed in facilities outside of the district compared to 1,045 students who received services within the district. There were 38 students placed outside the district for behavioral issues; 49 for social/emotional and mental health disorders and 27 for severe cognitive.

Q: The board has asked the district to look at bringing back special education students to their buildings in order to save money. What steps should be in place to ensure that the best interest of those students is considered?

LINEHAN: My job as a board member is to ensure that every student's right to a free and appropriate public education, regardless of ability throughout the educational spectrum, will be protected. This would be my primary consideration when looking at any financial efficiencies that can be made.

JUNE: To make sure that the district has the staff and facilities in place to address the issues of the profoundly disabled students who will be coming back into the district and ensure that we can adequately implement their individual education plans.

STONICH-VANDERHYDEN: All parties concerned with the special education students and with identifying their needs should be involved in any decisions being made on behalf of their education. First and foremost the Individualized Education Program (IEP) should not be compromised; as long as the district can support their educational needs and provide for their IEP, having the students located back in the campus buildings would be ideal and support inclusion.

ALBERT: The IEP (Individual Education Plan) of each student being considered must be evaluated thoroughly to be sure we can provide for their educational needs in- house. All parties involved with the special education students will be part of the decision. Then we will determine the staffing needed and the configuration of the facilities. The students IEP will be the guiding factor and we will not bring any student to our in-house program if we can't meet their needs.

DICKINSON: I find it interesting the board is looking to save money with special education, when they have no problem spending it on Silver Cross Field. I would be on board as long as all of their needs are met.

PIERSON: I believe all students should receive services within our district. If we can do this without compromising a students Individualized Education Program, while maintaining fiscal discipline, then I will agree to approve this policy

There are three incumbents and three newcomers vying for four seats on the Joliet Township High School Board during the April 5th election and not everyone agrees on Silver Cross Field.

Incumbents Arlene Albert, Chet June and Jeff Pierson are hoping to keep their seats.
Newcomers Paige Stonich-Vanderhyden, Don "Duck" Dickinson and John G. Linehan are hoping for a win.

Before installing turf at each of the campuses, the district tried to work out a deal with the City of Joliet and the JackHammers to use the field but the negotiations stalled.

In February, Joliet Township High School Board approved about $3 million in contracts last week to ready the fields and install artificial turf and new tracks at Joliet Central and Joliet West high schools.

With the creation of two sports teams at both campuses, the board decided to install artificial turf at both schools. Last fall, Joliet Central Steelmen played at Joliet Park District's Memorial Stadium, but next season, the district is hoping both the Steelmen and the Tigers will be playing their first home football games on artificial turf .

Q: Now that the board has moved forward with its plans to put turf at both campuses, what is your stance on a partnership with the City of Joliet regarding using Silver Cross Field? How much are you willing to spend to let students play at the field?

LINEHAN: While I am not privy to any discussions that the board may have had on this issue and the budget details, I believe that with competent negotiations with city officials that a mutually favorable agreement can be struck. I also think that playing in such a fine facility would be beneficial to both our athletes and our fans.

JUNE: Actually, the board will be negotiating with the tenants of the Silver Cross Field, the Slammers, who I believe have a ten year lease with the City of Joliet. It's crazy for Joliet Central not to use the beautiful stadium that is right across the street and is now not used almost 9 months out of the year.
As far as spending, again, it is ridiculous for the board to pay $25 million for a new stadium when there is a 6,000 seat venue sitting on the other side of Eastern Avenue from JTC. The board is working with our administration and the Slammers to work out a deal which makes sense to us and the taxpayers who support JTHS.

STONICH-VANDERHYDEN: Because Silver Cross Field is conveniently located across the street from the Central campus, it would be an excellent opportunity to explore for our students to be able to play on a field in a facility that is currently under-utilized. The decision of how much to spend to let students play at the field could only be made after reviewing, analyzing and discussing all the associated variables.

ALBERT: I support continuing to explore the possibility of an intergovernmental agreement that would result in our students using the field. Before that happens there must be discussions about when and how it would be used, who is responsible for what and how much is a reasonable amount for that use.

DICKINSON: With the development of our new facilities at both campuses I don't see why we are going to spend the money to do this? Couldn't this money be put to good use in other areas?

PIERSON: I have always looked for opportunities for JTHS to enter into inter-governmental agreements with the City of Joliet and the Joliet Park District. Due to its proximity to the Central Campus and the uniqueness of the venue, I am in support of pursuing this agreement with the City of Joliet with respect to fiscal constraints.

There are three incumbents and three newcomers vying for four seats on the Joliet Township High School Board during the April 5th election.

Incumbents - Arlene Albert, Chet June and Jeff Pierson - have served eight terms; four-and-a-half terms and two-and-a-half terms respectively, totaling over 64 years on the board. They are running together with newcomer Paige Stonich-Vanderhyden, of Elwood, who has served 14 years on the Elwood School, including 12 years as board president.

Don "Duck" Dickinson, 50, of Joliet, who is an aquatic technician for Joliet Park District, is running for the second time for JTHS board. He lost in his first bid by three votes four years ago.

John G. Linehan, 48, of Joliet, who is in sales, is trying for his first bid.

Here's more information about them:

Name: John G. Linehan
Age: 48
Occupation: Sales, LKQ Corporation
Hometown: Davenport, Iowa
Public Service: This is my first run for public office

Name: Arlene Albert
Age: NA
Occupation: Community Education Coordinator for Deerbrook Care Centre
Hometown: Joliet
Education: Bachelor's in journalism from University of Illinois/Champaign Urbana
Public Service: Served eight terms on Joliet Township High School Board, including serving as board president.
Former board member of the Will County School Trustees
Former board member of the Will County Auditorium and Exposition Authority
2010 ATHENA Award recipient from Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Council for Working Women
2005 recipient of the Rabbi Morris M. Hershman Community Service Award from the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce
Recognized by the Long-Term Care Council of Illinois for local radio program I host for Deerbrook focusing on the elder care & health care issues.
Co-Chair of the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk (several years)
Present and past participation in several local and state civic and service organizations

Name: Jeff Pierson
Age: 46
Occupation: Lieutenant, Lisle-Woodridge Fire District
The Voyager Group
Past adjunct faculty Joliet Junior College, Mathematics
Hometown: Joliet
Master of Business Administration, Benedictine University
Bachelor of Science, University of St. Francis
JTHS West Campus
St. Joseph Grade School, Joliet
Public service: Member of the JTHS Board of Education serving for 2.5 terms and as President for two years.
Past Board Member, Joliet Boy's and Girl's Club
My wife Lisa and I served as co-chairs for the Joliet Area Museum Annual Gala Ball in 2003 and currently are the Co-Chairs of the Will Grundy Medical Clinic Charity Dinner.

Name: Chet June
Age: 63
Occupation: Attorney-at-Law
Hometown: Joliet, Illinois
Education: Kindergarten - St. Raymond's
Grade School - Cunningham
Junior High - Hufford
High School - Joliet Township High School (3 years)
Joliet West High School (First Graduating Class of 1965)
College - Monmouth College (IL) Bachelor of Arts
Graduate - University of Iowa Juris Doctor
Public service: (accomplishments, including number of terms served in public office)
4 1/2 terms on the Joliet Township High School Board of Education, including one term as Vice President and one term as President
Vice Chairman of the Illinois Commission to revise and rewrite the Illinois Public Aid Code
Illinois State Bar Association - member of its Elder Law Section Council
Member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys - Vice President of its Illinois Chapter
Kiwanis Club of Joliet - served as chaplain and stage manager of its annual Variety Show.

Name: Paige Stonich-Vanderhyden
Occupation: Interim Director, Workforce Development at Joliet Junior College
Hometown: Elwood
Education: Master of Science in Training and Development, University of St. Francis
Bachelor of Science in Applied Organizational Management, University of St. Francis
Associate in Arts in Business, Joliet Junior College
Associate in Applied Science in Computer Science, Joliet Junior College
Public Service: Served as an Elwood School Board member for the past 14 years and board President for the past 12 years.

Name : Don "Duck" Dickinson
Age: 50
Occupation: Aquatic Technician for the Joliet Park District
Hometown: Life long resident of Joliet
Education: Joliet West Graduate '78, Joliet Junior College, mechanical production technology.
Public Service: Vice-president for JTHS Athletic Boosters for six years; 5 years President of Joliet area girls Softball Association for five years. While President, my board and I built and donated a concession stand to J.T.H.S. We also made numerous improvements to the softball facilities) . I have also been a part of numerous charitable events.

Q: What was the main issue that made you want to run for school board?
LINEHAN: Watching my children grow in Joliet and receive an excellent public school education has provided me with an appreciation for the importance of quality public school education for a community. Serving on the school board will afford me the opportunity to partake in my passion for education while contributing to public service in my community, which is something I have wanted to do.

JUNE: "To help continue the improvements made over the past several years. We've added 64 new classrooms and 24 new/refurbished science labs. We've reinstated the two sports teams. We've added a field house at both the Central and West Campuses. We've "weaned" the district from state aid. We have not had to layoff staff and have even been able to give our employees small raises. We've maintained a significant cash reserve fund and a "AA" bond rating. Our students have improved on their state test scores. We've expanded education opportunities by partnering with Joliet Junior College, where our students are able to earn college credit while completing their high school diploma."

STONICH-VANDERHYDEN: With my extensive background and experience as an existing school board member, and more so as a board president, as well as working at a community college, I have the knowledge and leadership skills required for this board position. Throughout my tenure as a school board president, occasionally families in Elwood have expressed their concerns about sending their children to Joliet Township, which is due in part because they are not familiar with the high school district. Bridging our communities together and supporting articulation between all sender school districts and the high school district is important for student achievement and retention.

ALBERT: I have the experience and leadership skills to be on this board. We've made great progress in our district and I want to remain part of the strong team that has vision and knows how to get things done. On my priority list is a focus on continuing to improve our student academic performance and graduation rates. Also we must continue to operate in a fiscally responsible manner while providing additional educational opportunities for our students. It's imperative that we balance our budget, maintain cash reserves and keep the tax rate as low as possible for our taxpayers.

DICKINSON: I have always been a supporter of our high Schools. I just believe a new voice is needed on our board. I believe it is good to have someone with fresh ideas.

PIERSON: I would like to continue my proven record of success and accomplishments that have provided for increased opportunities for all kids while maintaining fiscal discipline.

Q: Do or did you have children who attend/ed schools in the district and what insight did that give you?

LINEHAN: I currently have four children who attend Joliet Grade School District. Henry is in seventh grade at Washington Academy. Mary is in fifth grade at Eisenhower. John is in third grade at Eisenhower, and Martin is in kindergarten at Pershing. Having a child who is nearing high school motivated me to become involved in the JTHS board. I would like to be as happy with the education that my children receive in high school as I have been with their public school education until this point.

JUNE: Two of my grandchildren attended Joliet Central and my youngest granddaughter will attend Central this fall.

STONICH-VANDERHYDEN: I have two children who attend Joliet Central, which has given me insight into the high quality of education being provided by the teaching staff, the variety of opportunities (sports, after school program, clubs, etc.) available for students, and the focus on college and/or career preparation. Joliet Central is always very encouraging and welcoming regarding parent participation and interaction. The equality of the sport facilities between the two campuses is important, and I am pleased the current board is making sure all students have similar athletic resources available to them.
Currently as a member of the JTHS Academy Network Team, I have direct insight into the progress with the Programs of Study for the career academies and the focus of the district in aligning high school curriculum with college and career requirements in order to prepare students for their desired vocation.
Being a member of the JTHS Strategic Planning team in 2002, and co-chair of an Action Planning committee in 2009, has provided insight, as well as an opportunity for input, into the mission and vision of JTHS.

ALBERT: My children attended Joliet Central and were well prepared for college and the work world because of the quality of education they received from our teaching staff. They also benefited from attending a school where there was diversity among the student body.

DICKINSON: I have three children and two stepchildren. Taylor is a sophomore at Northern Illinois University; Ashley is a freshman at Columbia; Andrew is a junior at Joliet West; Bradley is a junior at Joliet West and Allison is a sophomore at Joliet West.

PIERSON: I currently have a child who attends a feeder school to the district that will be attending JTHS in a few years. This allows me to view decisions from a parent's perspective as well as a taxpayer. I look forward to seeing him take advantage of the many high quality opportunities currently offered through JTHS and staff.
I also have two nieces that attended Joliet Central from 2004-2010.

Q: Do you have family members who work for the district? If so, who, and their job titles? If so, are there some issues that you will not vote on and what?

PIERSON: My sister-in-law works part time in the cafeteria at Joliet West. I currently do not see any issues that I could not take action, but if an issue came to the Board, I would abstain from that decision.

We've all heard that the early bird catches the worm, but when it comes to elections - the early candidate gets a chance to get his or her name placed first on the ballot.

Seven candidates filed first thing Monday morning for the four Valley View School District seats that will be contested in the April 5 election.

Candidates have until 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20 to file their petitions. Nineteen have taken out petitions over the past several months, said Spokesman Larry Randa.

A lottery will be held to determine the top ballot position for the three 4-year seats that will be on the ballot. Included in that lottery will be Romeoville residents Richard "Rick" Gougis III and Leonel "Leo" Venegas as well as Bolingbrook residents Phillip A. Wilson, Claudia Simmons, April Gavin and Steve Quigley. Quigley, Gougis and Venegas are incumbents.

Chrystal Hansen of Bolingbrook was the only candidate who filed for the two-year seat and, as such, will be in the number one position on the ballot for that race.

After the first round of early morning candidates, Kenneth Harris, of Bolingbrook, also filed for one of the four-year seats, but won't he won't be part of the lottery for the first place on the ballot.

Petitions for candidates who want to run in the election are still available by visiting the office of Delorise Ivy, board clerk, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. this week at the administration center, 755 Dalhart Ave. (formerly Luther Drive) in Romeoville.


In Plainfield School District, there will be a lottery to determine the place on the ballot for three candidates.

Those candidates are: Greg Nichols, of Plainfield; Incumbent David Obrzut, of Plainfield and Incumbent Roger Bonuchi, of Plainfield.
William P. Dargan Jr., of Plainfield, is also running.

Petitions must be filed by 5 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Administration Center, 15732 Howard St.
Three seats on the seven-member board are up for election The seats up for election are currently held by school board President Stuart Bledsoe, Obrzut and Bonuchi. Candidates elected will serve four-year terms expiring in April 2015.


In Joliet Township High School District, there were six candidates who filed for three spots. Those candidates were: Don Dickinson, of Joliet; John Gerard Linehan, of Joliet; Jeff Pierson, of Joliet; Paige Stonich-Vanderhyden, of Elwood and Arlene Albert, of Joliet, and Chet June, of Joliet. Incumbents are Pierson, Albert and June. The only two in the lottery will be Don Dickinson and John Linehan. The lottery will be held on Dec. 27. The last day to file is Dec. 20. The office at 300 Caterpillar Drive will be open until 5 p.m.

Joliet Grade

There were only two folks who filed in Joliet Grade School District. Norveea Clerk, of Joliet, for the At-Large seat and Incumbent Tony Pena for the East Side seat. In total, there are four spots open. Two on the East Side, one At Large and one on the West Side. The district office, 420 N. Raynor, will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.

Joliet Township High School Board is looking at allowing indoor scoreboards that would advertise local businesses as a revenue generator.

If approved, it will be the first time the district is allowing advertising on its scoreboards, said Spokeswoman Kristine Schlismann.

Side Effects Inc, a Ohio company, has a 12-year-history of supplying high schools with the state-of-the-art scoreboards at no cost. The district will receive some money from the advertisements. The board is expected to vote on the issue at tonight's 7 p.m. meeting at the administration building, 300 Caterpillar Drive in Joliet.

The district's attorney, Tim Rathbun, has spent a great deal of time rewriting the contract to insure that district's rights on what and who is purchasing the advertisement space, said Assistant Superintendent Rich Pagliaro in a memo that was sent to the board.

So the question of the day: Which school district will copy JTHS?

Money is hard to come by these days. I can see other districts stealing this idea.

Before Superintendent Paul Swanstrom leaves Joliet Township High School District in June, I'm sure he'll be given plenty of awards and honors and maybe a retirement cake.


He recently accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual "Celebration of Success" hosted by the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

The award is one of the Chamber's most prestigious honors bestowed upon community leaders and recognizes those who have made positive improvements for the future of the Joliet community.

"Dr. Swanstrom has changed the face of public education in Joliet," said Chamber President Russ Slinkard. "As superintendent of JTHS, he has maintained a strong focus towards preparing the district for its second century of service, while recognizing the significant contributions of board members, staff, and our community."

In his nine years of service to JTHS, Swanstrom has been instrumental in passing referendums to add facilities, which include two new field houses, updated science labs, additional classrooms and a new cafeteria at the West Campus.

In addition, air quality and restoration of the Central Campus resulted in new heating systems and temperature control for heating and cooling the century- old building.

"Joliet is truly the best place I could have ever come to," said Swanstrom during his acceptance speech. "I have been honored to work with wonderful people who have allowed me to collaboratively address issues in education that focus on helping our kids, who are our resource and future, be all that they can be. "

Community involvement has been a primary district initiative under Swanstrom's leadership.

"Dr. Swanstrom has worked tirelessly to improve communication, and has involved business and community leaders in the design and implementation of JTHS coursework, " Slinkard said.

"He has been an advocate for the development of the Academy Network Teams, and has worked to improve articulation between JTHS and its feeder elementary schools through the creation of Leadership for Educational Articulation and Planning, and the Joliet Region Interfaith Education Council," he said.

On his monthly podcast, Superintendent Paul Swanstrom clears up some rumors at Joliet West High School: No new locker rooms.

He also explains why Joliet Township High School District can afford turf and Plainfield School District cannot.

Plainfield School district faces a $6.7 million deficit. Meanwhile JTHS has reserves of $36 million. The Plainfield board recently decided not to install turf at its four high schools' stadiums.

Joliet West student, Elissa Chudwin, speaks with Swanstrom about some of the recent and upcoming improvements that have been made to JTHS facilities.


Turf for two

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Joliet Township High School Board agreed to move forward and install artificial turf at the football fields for Joliet West and Joliet Central high schools. Cost is about $1.3 million each.

What about football games at Silver Cross Field?

Well, that can still happen. The board said it has enough money to do both, but in the meantime it's time to move forward and put turf at both schools.

More to come.

Joliet Township High School Board has a lot on its agenda tonight, including buying a $4.3 million warehouse to store its buses and decide where the Steelmen should play next fall.

I've heard from folks who will be there tonight to remind the school board of its promise during the referendum to build two field houses. That promise was to provide equal facilities between Joliet West and Joliet Central high schools.

Folks do not think renting out Silver Cross Field for Steelmen games is equal. They want Central to have a football stadium with lockers and bathrooms - comparable to Joliet West.

The board meets at 7 p.m. tonight at the district office, 300 Caterpillar Drive.

Check out this blog tonight for more details.

Joliet Township High School Board wants to do what Plainfield did, and now it looks like they are moving closer toward their goal by moving its school buses.

School board President Chet June said by moving the school buses to another facility, the district will have a building it could rehab to bring back its special education students.

At a previous meeting, board members mentioned that Plainfield School District brought back special education students from out-of-district facilities to save money and asked that the administration look into the issue.

In the 2009-10 school year, there were 132 special education JTHS students placed in facilities outside of the district compared to 1,045 students who received services within the district. There were 38 students placed outside the district for behavioral issues; 49 for social/emotional and mental health disorders and 27 for severe cognitive.

So what do you think? Good idea or bad idea? Any concerns?

Here's the story on their plans to buy a warehouse to house their buses.

Check out

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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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Joliet Township High School District category.

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