How should District 211 build ties to elementary districts? Candidates discuss ideas
Palatine Schaumburg High School District 211 board candidates are offering different ideas for how to forge better relationships with the district's two major elementary feeder systems.
Six candidates are competing for four, 4-year seats on District 211's board in the April 2 election. Incumbents Peter Dombrowski, Will Hinshaw and Steven Rosenblum are on the ballot, along with newcomers Kimberly Cavill, Mark Cramer and Matthew Saternus.
The candidates touched on several issues at a recent forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Palatine Area, including how they believe District 211 should collaborate with elementary schools in an effort to improve education. Graduates from Palatine Township Elementary District 15 and Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 attend District 211.
Cavill said some communication between the boards of the three districts already occurs, but she'd want to formalize the relationship between them.
"Rather than just chit-chatting informally over email or even face-to-face at events, I think maybe quarterly meetings would be a good place to start and then have set agendas where we can talk," said Cavill, 37, a health educator for a teen pregnancy prevention grant initiative, writer and podcast host.
Saternus, a 35-year-old firefighter, said one of the challenges is that the size of the three districts, which combined educate nearly 40,000 students.
"What I think would be useful is having one unified conversation among at least those three boards to talk about what kind of programs we want to carry through from (grades) K all the way through 12," Saternus said. "I think some of the conversation is happening, but I think often times it can be fragmented if we're talking to 54 about one thing and then 15 on another."
Hinshaw, 42, an accountant elected to the board in 2015, said administrators from the three districts have been doing an "excellent job" in communicating with each other.
He said there could be some benefit to creating continuity among the boards.
"I think it's an interesting idea and is certainly something that I'd be open to discussing," Hinshaw said.
"Obviously, some of the laws surrounding the Open Meetings Act and so forth would come into play."
Dombrowski said it must be kept in mind each district has different priorities.
For example, he said, districts 15 and 54 have Chromebook initiatives for students while District 211 is using iPads.
"I, personally, have been at the District 15 board meetings," said Dombrowski, a 43-year-old licensed structural engineer elected to the District 211 board in 2015. "I spoke to the board directly when they were in the process of executing a 10-year (teachers) contract and kind of the precedent that set. I gave my opinion as an individual, not necessarily as a board. But a statement from the (211) board may have been appropriate."
Rosenblum, 55, a human resources professional who was appointed to the board in 2017, said elementary feeder systems and District 211 have the same goals of educational success and safe environments for students.
He said it would be important to have residents as part of a gathering of the three districts.
"I think we can collaborate with our community as board members to look at a single idea or feedback from them, whether it be from K through 8 or K through 12 and have a consistent opportunity to look at those things and the input from our constituents," Rosenblum said.
Cramer, 69, a retired Navy commander who worked in the private sector, said it's the responsibility of elected officials from districts 211, 54 and 15 to meet with each other.
"We are the community," Cramer said.
"We are elected to represent the community and to get things done. I would advocate setting up a formal task force of board members, peer to peer. The first thing we need to do is define the problem or find where there aren't problems and go from there."