District 94 teachers vote 'no confidence' in school board president

 
 
Updated 12/21/2017 5:15 PM
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  • Gary Saake

    Gary Saake

The union representing West Chicago High School District 94 teachers on Thursday announced a vote of "no confidence" in school board President Gary Saake, blaming him for repeatedly ignoring "requests to engage in proactively addressing persistent challenges and problems the district faces."

The resolution -- adopted Wednesday by members of the West Chicago High School Teachers' Association -- calls on school board members to hold a public hearing for the purpose of reorganizing the panel and electing a new board president.

"This has been a long time in coming, and the action is not taken lightly," union President Brad Larson said.

Larson said the association and the school board have been in contract negotiations for nearly two years. "The board's agenda and approach to bargaining have been consistent with Mr. Saake's personal agenda and approach to leadership," he said.

On Thursday, Saake received a copy of the two-page resolution, which cites multiple reasons for the "no confidence" vote.

"How does this move us closer to an agreement?" Saake said. "How does this improve the relationship between the board and the employees on an ongoing basis? I think it's unfortunate."

Larson said Saake has become "a divisive presence."

"When he speaks to staff members he sometimes tells them how important and wonderful they are," Larson said. "But under his leadership, the board of education's actions often contradict what he has said."

Larson said the association repeatedly has encouraged the board to work with community members, students and staff to address challenges. "Under Mr. Saake's leadership, these appeals have been ignored," he said.

But Saake said he's just one on a seven-member board.

"No board member has the authority to control anything," he said. "I may be the spokesperson, but I'm speaking on behalf of seven board members."

He said he doesn't believe the resolution is helpful to the process of getting a new contract.

Still, he said: "We're going to keep our focus on getting to a contract and serving the students of the district. That's our mission and that's our goal."

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