The Issues

Jennifer Neubauer

When I was a kid, my dad told me that if we ever saw an injustice done by a bully to a weaker kid and did nothing about it, to not bother coming home!

So, fighting bullies is my heritage you could say–from defending my special-needs sister from bullies as a kid, to later defending my clients’ constitutional and civil rights beating even bigger bullies as a lawyer.

Now it’s 2017, and there are certain people in the LFHS community who keep telling us to “get our minds right” and not run against anointed candidates.  They’ve resorted to the usual bully tactics—pretending they’re the “big dogs” and saying we don’t have the right to run, impugning the integrity of our biggest donor, declaring we’re “unfit” and have “agendas”, that we’re racists, and, my personal favorite, “not chic.”

Back when my family moved to town in the 1970s, the Caucus-types weren’t like this. They were moderate and dignified. They also did their homework and would not have endorsed candidates with conflicts of interest, let alone swept non-compliance with elections filing laws under the rug. I guess times have changed.

Knowing the likelihood that the “bully factor” would rear its ugly head in this race, we determined there had to be a litmus test for the one, essential qualification our race demanded:  courage.  I’m happy to say we have that virtue, and will use it to face tough facts and find solutions should we be elected.

Between us, the Final 4 have 16 kids who are or have gone through LFHS and/or our local public elementary schools. We’ve lived here a combined total of over 80 years. We seek to deploy our talents and skills for the benefit of students and the community and restore LFHS to its rightful place as the most collegial, academic powerhouse on the North Shore. We seek to serve all students, because all students are special and deserve the best our tax dollars can give them.  If we serve students, not politics or educational experiments, we will strengthen our community.

This is our only agenda.

Patrick Marshall

While living in Hyde Park, Chicago, I met Sue Duncan, a woman who transformed my perspective on life.  She was running a grass-roots tutoring organization for disadvantaged southside Chicago kids. I got very involved as a tutor and mentor and befriended her whole family and organization.  Later in life, I helped initiate and build a foundation to support and grow her program.  As a testament to her teaching influence, her eldest son, Arne went on to become CEO of Chicago Public Schools and ultimately Secretary of Education.  While Lake Forest is different from Hyde Park and its surrounding neighborhoods, the philosophy of supporting one’s community, and using your own skills and experience to strengthen it, remains very common.
Currently, I am serving on the Friends of Lake Forest Parks & Recreation Foundation Board, where I initiated and am leading the current long-range capital planning committee.  I’m also a volunteer coach for various sporting activities – basketball, baseball, and soccer.
My 25-year career as a strategic consultant and general manager spanning several companies and clients across many industries has provided me significant experience to address a range of anticipated Board of Education responsibilities.
District 115 taxpayers pay a premium for education provided to our students and should expect no less than excellence across all measures of academic achievement.  We need to serve all current and future students with a high-quality education that accommodates all of their needs.
With overall enrollment down and a challenged real estate market, making Lake Forest High School a high-ranking destination school district will benefit all community stakeholders.  We have a lot of strength in our school district today and our children work very hard, I know this first hand as I have 4 children across District 115 & 67.  However, taking a closer look at some key academic and fiscal performance measurements showcase some areas for improvement.  As a Board Member, I would work with my peers and the administration to pursue a detailed and honest review of our current metrics.  We would create transparent performance scorecards to monitor the district’s progress toward achieving these common and beneficial goals.
 
 
Dr. Lisa Mienville
My family and I chose to move to Lake Forest 18 years ago because we recognized Lake Forest as a unique and nurturing community.  That was my first impression of Lake Forest and this continues to be the case, starting when almost 2 decades ago, I first walked around festive Market Square before Christmas with my family, including my elderly father, and we found the gentleman who delightfully roasted chestnuts by the (then) Marshall Field’s store.
I have always valued education as has my family.  Throughout my undergraduate education, I taught at the Upward Bound program for underprivileged inner city high school students to aid in preparation for entrance to college.  These courses included Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus, Physics, and General Chemistry.  In addition, I have taught chemistry at Georgetown University.  The rewards of teaching were great, especially if I could develop an enthusiasm for science and mathematics in my students.  Further, as a participant in Georgetown University’s undergraduate admissions, I have been privy to what is considered important, relevant and influential in the admissions process.
A career in investing in Life Science companies later followed my careers in research and in technology transfer at the National Institutes of Health and at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.  To date, I have had the good fortune of having sourced and made investments on behalf of high-net-worth individuals and a number of well-known financial institutions, having never lost money for any of my investors.  I take being a fiduciary as a great honor with tremendous moral implications.
In the various board seats that I have been appointed to or taken, I have noticed that successful teams each have a certain chemistry.  They get into a virtuous cycle of building good ideas with one another, once mutual respect is established.
It would be a privilege to serve on LFHS’ District 115 School Board where I could contribute my expertise in education, fiduciary matters, and in teamwork on professional boards for the benefit of our community.
Cindy Good
I remember keeping the books for my husband’s construction company in California, and the pride we felt seeing our name on large projects in Palm Springs and other parts of Southern California.  Having also started my own small business at age 16, and being a working mom and small business owner to this very day, you could say I’m a natural entrepreneur and a person who knows about the importance of keeping track of the bottom line.
When we moved to Lake Forest nearly 30 years ago, and my husband traded in his construction career for one in the Standard & Poor’s pit at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, we paid our property tax bill knowing our six children attending LFHS were getting a great education.  But times have changed, as our research in our communications with voters and website analyses shows.
Also, tax bills have been going up in our community.  No one is more aware of that than our seniors and residents without kids in the public-school system.  They’re worried that over half their property tax bill goes to schools, but wondering what they get in return. They’re worried that no one is looking out for their interests when it comes to approving school budgets and expenditures.  They’re worried that if LFHS is viewed as a second-tier school because the Administration if focused on politics and failed educational experiments, their property values will decline.
I want to keep an eye on spending so we never have to raise the tax levy.  I know that will be difficult, especially when we don’t know what unfunded mandates our state or federal government will put on our backs, or whether the State of Illinois will dump the liability for teacher pensions on individual districts.  So, we need to examine every dime of spending and ask ourselves as a Board: “Is this really necessary?”  District taxpayers should know I will be their advocate if they elect me to the Board.

Get Rid of Corrupt Caucus Politics

Yesterday, Lake Forest Caucus President Chris Collins sent this email, purporting to be from Caucus candidate Tomas Nemickas.  We’ve provided the highlights:

From: Chris Collins <c*******@gmail.com>
Date: March 29, 2017 at 11:39:58 AM CDT
To: Chris Collins <c*******@gmail.com>
Subject: A statement from Dr. Tom Nemickas – LFHS D115 Candidate

To the Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Knollwood Voters,

I wanted to reach out and clarify a few details about the comments that have been made against me, attacking my integrity and character.

On March 19th, I first became aware of a contract that exists between the IBJI Rehab Division and LFHS District 115. As I have stated before, I was unaware of the contract until that date, as is did not involve my Division, nor was I involved in any way. I am a partner in IBJI, and I receive no direct material benefit from it.

I have reached out to counsel to understand whether there is any conflict. I have been assured that no conflict exists that prevents me from running and being elected. When elected, I will ensure that there is no conflict between School District 115, myself, or my employer.

Aside from giving a statement to the press, I have not been vocal on the subject as I have been careful to make sure I have all the facts correct and choose the clearest and best path forward. Please take this as an example of the kind of School Board Member that I aspire to be for the community. I pride myself on my thorough approach to decisions, my integrity and my character. I would never mislead the public nor make a rush to judgment.

To all the people who have reached out in support of myself and my family during this difficult time, THANK YOU!

Dr. Tom Nemickas

We have a few problems with this letter.

First,

  • He tries to describe it as a contract between “IBJI Rehab Division and LFHS” but the contract is between IBJI and LFHS and not a different legal entity or “division.”
  • He says he was “unaware” about the seventh renewal of a five-figure, LFHS/IBJI contract until March 19th–even though he’s an owner and sits on the IBJI Board (and even though it was also pointed out to him in a March 12th debate (at 1:51:00)).
  • And finally, he says he was “unaware” of the contract even though he’s listed as an IBJI “expert physician” on the same IBJI webpage that lists Lake Forest High School as an IBJI client!

What kind of “oversight” would he provide as an LFHS Board Member?


http://www.ibji.com/services/sports-medicine/general-sports-medicine

Second, he and Caucus leadership want to deny voters their choice!

  • Nemickas asserts that “when elected” he “will ensure” there is no conflict.
  • But if he is elected and then determines he must resign because of the conflict, your vote for the next in line to take his place is meaningless: the LFHS Board, not you, gets to choose another member to serve.  That’s the law!

 That’s right.  If Dr. Nemickas can’t “ensure” there is no conflict until after he’s sworn in, he can’t serve, and then the three incumbent Board members and the top three vote-getters in this election get to name his replacement until the next election in 2019! 

See how it works?  By staying in the race, winning, resigning and letting the Board, not you, pick his successor, he will have denied you and every other voter the right to have your vote count for the 5th highest vote-getter.  Does that show “integrity and character”?  No, but it’s what the Caucus requires of him. 

Let’s send Dr. Nemickas’ Caucus handlers a message:  we’ve had enough Chicago-style politics and one-party rule.  This election, we have a choice!

Vote for candidates who embrace transparency, academic excellence and fiscal prudence. 

Vote Thursday and Friday at Lake Forest City Hall from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Vote Saturday at Lake Forest City Hall from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Elect the Final 4!

What have we learned? How will you vote?

Are you concerned?

Over half your property tax bill funds our local public schools.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you concerned?

Barely half of the LFHS share of those taxes goes to instructional spending, well behind peer schools.

 

 

Are you concerned?

We have three times the administrator per pupil rate of New Trier, 60% more than Stevenson and double the state.

Are you concerned?

With all that spending and administration, peer schools beat LFHS in several metrics, including having two to three times the number of National Merit Semifinalists (per Senior).

 

 Are you concerned?

91% of homebuyers say schools are important in their home search.

We are concerned.  We will work to restore Lake Forest High School to its rightful place as the most collegial, academic powerhouse on the North Shore—serving all students and strengthening our community.

Vote early.  VOTE NOW at Lake Forest City Hall

Monday through Friday 9 am-5 pm and Saturday 9 am-2 pm

ELECTION DAY IS TUESDAY, APRIL 4TH

Sources:

http://adc.d211.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/2016-Ill-Natl-Merit-Semifinalists.pdf

https://adc.d211.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/2017-IL-Semifinalists-NatlMeritProgram.pdf

https://www.lakeforestschools.org/schools/lfhs/about-lfhs/school-profile

https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/district.aspx?districtid=34049125013&source=studentcharacteristics&source2=enrollment

https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/school.aspx?schoolid=050162030170001&source=studentcharacteristic

https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/school.aspx?schoolid=340491150160001&source=studentcharacteristics&source2=enrollments&source2=enrollment

http://www.d125.org/about/enrollment-history

http://www.newtrier.k12.il.us/Administration/About/About_New_Trier/

Estimates on New Trier and Stevenson Senior class population for 2017 were derived by taking total enrollment (up by 195 at Stevenson in 2017) and dividing by 4.  Winnetka’s New Trier campus enrolls 3240 in 10-12, so that number was divided by three.

http://www.lakecountyil.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/16129 and http://www.lakecountyil.gov/506/Payment-Information

Sources:  Illinois Report Card at https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/District.aspx?districtId=34049115016, https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/District.aspx?source=environment&source2=perstudentspending&Districtid=05016203017, https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/District.aspx?source=environment&source2=perstudentspending&Districtid=34049109002, https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/School.aspx?source=environment&source2=perstudentspending&Schoolid=340491130170002, https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/School.aspx?source=environment&source2=perstudentspending&Schoolid=050162250170002,

https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/School.aspx?source=environment&source2=perstudentspending&Schoolid=340491280160002, https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/School.aspx?source=environment&source2=perstudentspending&Schoolid=050162020170001,

https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/School.aspx?source=environment&source2=perstudentspending&Schoolid=050162140170004, https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/School.aspx?source=environment&source2=perstudentspending&Schoolid=050162140170008, https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/District.aspx?source=environment&source2=perstudentspending&Districtid=34049125013, https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/District.aspx?source=environment&source2=perstudentspending&Districtid=19022086017, https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/School.aspx?source=environment&source2=perstudentspending&Schoolid=050162140170005

http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/the-right-school-district-how-much-do-schools-affect-real-estate-prices/

Berkshire Hathaway Market Study of Closed Sales 2015-2016, augmented with the same type of Home Sales Stats data for other communities on @properties realtor website www.lisafinks.com

All Boats Rise With The Tide

We are concerned:  We’ve had a 200% drop in the rate of National Merit Semifinalists since 2011 and our peers have overtaken LFHS

  • Currently, we trail peer schools like Stevenson and New Trier in National Merit Semifinalists by about 200% and 300%.
  • But in 2011, 3.2% of our Seniors were National Merit Semi-Finalists.  That’s higher than New Trier’s current rate.
  • We recognize that these gifted students make a small percentage of our student population.
  • We are concerned that our current curriculum is not structured in a way to foster this high achievement.
  • We know all our kids are working hard, but we are concerned that these structural curriculum challenges exist across all academic levels
  • We are concerned that families looking to move from Chicago are aware of these metrics and will take a pass on LFHS.

Let’s admit there are challenges.  But there is also a solution. We need to focus on academic excellence that serves all our students!

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

Maybe because she was trying to escape chefs at Cluckers Charcoal Chicken in Highwood, which sold nearly $700 in legs, wings, breasts and thighs to District 115 last year for “Professional Development Meetings.”
Other taxpayer-funded spending isn’t so funny.  Here are just a few examples:
  • $3,090.60/—for “Professional Meeting—Curr/Educ”–Boston Park Plaza Hotel, Boston (4 nights at $772.56 a night) with  jaunts to Island Creek Oyster Bar($209.62) and Tresca ($272.91)
  • $2,317.62—for “PROF DEV/MTGS—WELLNESS ODE—Holiday Home Camp, Lake Geneva
  • $1,185—for “PROF DEV/MTGS—WELLNESS ODE”— Vertical Endeavors in St. Paul, MN (rock climbing)
  • Over $4,000 spent on food last year for “Professional Development Meetings” in Curriculum/Instruction including $1,024.44 for Panera Bread, $687.26 for Cluckers Charcoal Chicken, $504.33 in pizza and a mere $179.84 for Jimmy John’s.  While in Chicago, it appears District leaders appreciate Chez Moi and Frontera Grill.  While in New York, the restaurant of choice appears to be “Legends Yankee Stadium” in the Bronx.
And let’s not forget the $35,000 trip to New York which generated no work product.
Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay $772.56/night for high-end Boston hotels, massive restaurant and entertainment bills for District personnel, or huge consulting fees—like the $443,022 to the “Communications Director” for Districts 115 and 67 we paid last year.
We don’t think this type of spending is acceptable.  We don’t want District leaders treating taxpayers like a never-ending ATM machine and spending this kind of money on high end hotels, “professional development” or outside consultants.  We will put a stop to it.  We will put a stop to District leadership treating taxpayers like we’re just a bunch of dumb clucks.

You Can’t Trust Caucus Vetting

The Lake Forest Caucus wants us to believe it is trustworthy because it “vets” candidates.  It is not and does not.

The Caucus endorsed Tomas Nemickas as a candidate for LFHS District 115 school board.  He is one of nine Managers listed on the Illinois Secretary of State LLC filings for Illinois Bone and Joint Institute LLC.

As a matter of law, a managing member of an LLC is an individual who holds an ownership interest in the company, participates in its day-to day management and has authority to contract on behalf of the company.  Nemickas has additional titles: “He is currently a member of the Executive Board, the Board of Directors, as well as Vice Chairman of the Operations and Technology Committee of IBJI.”

Illinois Bone and Joint Institute, LLC, the exact corporate entity Dr. Nemickas owns, has had a contract with LFHS District 115 for the past six years, with the current contract to expire May 31, 2017.  The District is obligated to pay IBJ $35,000 for 1400 hours of work over the school year, with overages billed at $25 per hour.

Pursuant to Illinois law, (105 ILCS 5/10-9) and the LFHS Board’s own rules, Caucus-endorsed Tomas Nemickas will be prohibited from sitting as an LFHS Board member because IBJI company has a contract of $35,000, plus overages, with LFHS through July 2017, well past the seating of new LFHS Board members.   This is a crystal-clear, unlawful conflict of interest.

Votes for him will simply not count.  Should he be one of the highest four vote-getters, the fifth person in line on the vote count will actually be seated after the election.

Incredibly, Lake Forest Caucus President Christopher Collins is sending an email to Caucus people, telling them: “Neither Dr. Nemickas nor IBJI profits from the contract, as it only covers costs.”  This is irrelevant.  (It also does not take into account the very profitable “inside sales” aspect of having trainers at LFHS refer students to IBJI doctors!)

There is a second issue that cannot be cured, in addition to Dr. Nemickas’ inability to be seated as a board member:  Dr. Nemickas did not disclose this economic interest as required by law in his sworn “Statement of Economic Interest” that accompanied his candidate petitions and statement of candidacy for School Board These papers were filed with the Lake County Clerk’s election officials by Richard Chun, Caucus officer.

This is a very serious issue and speaks to the complete and utter disregard of Caucus Committee leaders for transparency and adherence to the law.

Even more disturbing: Dr. Nemickas’ “slate-mates”, the other Caucus-endorsed candidates, approved the IBJI contract back in June 2016 and apparently see no problem welcoming him onto the Board of Education, where he will be both a government official and a government vendor of training services (and beneficiary of referrals to IBJI doctors).

With all the scandals that have plagued our school districts in the past, do we really need another one?

Sources:https://www.ilsos.gov/corporatellc/CorporateLlcController?command=mms&fileNbr=01689223&type=MGR

http://www.lfboe.net/d115public/archive/2015-2016/meetings/June_22_2016/Action_Items/NApproval_of_Illinois_Bone_and_Joint_Institute_Contract_Renewal.pdf

https://nebula.wsimg.com/153a74c287bcc6414a13df513cdc770c?AccessKeyId=6CAF93516B9A96F7A0C3&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

http://www.lakeforestschools.org/uploaded/Lake_Forest_Schools/District_115/D115Section2.pdf

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=010500050HArt%2E+10&ActID=1005&ChapterID=17&SeqStart=59100000&SeqEnd=82500000

De-tracking LFHS one class at a time

A great body of research on academic tracking or “grouping” indicates it is the preferable approach for great outcomes for all learners.

We don’t understand why the past protocol—allowing parents, students and guidance counselors to choose courses for their children—was a system that needed fixing!

We don’t understand why the “fix” for a system that wasn’t broken is to reduce, not enhance, options for all learners by eliminating academic tracks.

The risky removal of academic tracks from LFHS started several years ago.  We want to put an end to it unless and until the LFHS community fully understands it and approves, and the costs—both academic and fiscal– are fully explained!

De-tracking substantially affects LFHS’ reputation and the ability of all our graduates to obtain their highest levels of learning and to attend the college of their dreams.

Here’s the 3-step game plan Superintendent Simeck and the current Board is following.  They’re using chapter 2, “What Tracking Is and How to Start Dismantling it” from the book “De-Tracking for Excellence and Equity.”

Step 1: “Begin Where Tracking Starts”

“Detracking should begin where tracking begins. If your elementary school tracks, that is the place to start. If tracking is delayed until the middle school years, begin there.”

This was accomplished about three years ago with the abrupt and controversial elimination of the Quest/Advanced Plus program in Lake Forest District 67.

(Quest/Advance Plus flyer, circa 2003)

Step 2: “Begin with Teachers Who Are Interested”

“It is not an accident that our detracking began in both the district’s middle and high school with the English and social studies departments.”

In 2013 District 115 spent over $35,000 on a trip to a New York high school for several District employees, many from English and Social Studies.  This included $7,700 in hotels and over $2,000 in limousines as well as air fare, restaurants and other expenses.  No work product was produced as a result of that trip, despite the explicit nature of the Freedom of Information Act request asking for it (See the District response to this FOIA request, and follow-ups and the receipts for expenses are at the bottom of the last follow-up).

Through other channels, we obtained a District 115 memo from a Social Studies teacher regarding that trip that clearly describes the Administration’s then secret plan to remove academic tracks at LFHS.

It doesn’t appear to be secret anymore, because the incumbent Board fully embraced de-tracking at the March 11, 2017 League of Women Voter’s Debate!

Step 3:  Eliminate the Lowest Track First

“You should be prepared for opposition to phasing out low-track classes.”

“There were several advantages to this approach. First, it allowed parents who were worried about the influx of the former “low-track” students into the middle track to move their children up to the honors track. Although this is a less-than-noble reason for opening access to the high track, it did quell some parent opposition and allowed the reform to proceed politically.”

Since 2013, LFHS has been de-tracking by eliminating the lowest tracks first, thereby disserving that population first.  Here are just a few examples:  Freshman math tracks have decreased by 33.3%.   U.S. History tracks have decreased by 33.3%. World Civilizations offerings have decreased by 20% (excluding “AP World History” from this calculation for both years).    Environmental Geoscience tracks have decreased by 20% and a “Basic Science” class eliminated. The current board is in favor of this risky, costly plan.

We don’t understand the complete lack of transparency on this issue; the fact that de-tracking LFHS was never proposed to the community or even voted on by the Board of Education is astonishing!

We think the educational agenda of “equalizing” students and offering fewer opportunities for them to achieve instead of more, is bad for all students and does not serve their best educational interests.

Conclusion:

Two years ago, among great community involvement and concern, we were assured that LFHS was not removing academic tracks.  However, we have learnd the contrary is true:   not only was the Administration in the midst of de-tracking LFHS and hiding it from parents and taxpayers, it hired leadership that embraced that goal!

We think the LFHS District 115 stakeholders—parents, students, taxpayers—deserve better.  We all deserve transparency, fiscal prudence, and educational best practices—something the current board and incumbent candidates are either unwilling or incapable of giving us.

Elect the Final 4 Candidates on the April 4th Ballot
Serving Students, Strengthening our Community

How your property taxes are spent

Education is a top priority for LFHS District 115 homeowners with over 50% of Lake Forest property taxes and over 60% of Lake Bluff property taxes funding local public schools.  Strong schools strengthen communities.

With all those taxes, why does LFHS spend a lower percentage of your tax money on “instructional” spending than 10 neighboring public high schools?   

Even worse:  why does LFHS spend a higher percentage of your taxes on “operational” expenses than 11 area public high schools?

We think those priorities are wrong.  We don’t want our tax dollars propping up a bloated administration, outside consultant retainers and other unnecessary, non-instructional spending.

Strong schools dedicated to academic excellence also strengthen our community and protect our property values.

Unfortunately, the incumbent LFHS Board and Administration has put political agendas, educational experiments and non-instructional spending first.

If elected, we promise to put students and taxpayers first!

Elect the Final 4 on April 4th
Jennifer Neubauer
Patrick Marshall
Lisa Mienville
Cindy Good

 

LFHS ACT SCORES FALL WHILE LFHS ADMINISTRATOR HIRING SKYROCKETS

LFHS has hired nearly three times more administrators per pupil than New Trier, over 150% more than Stevenson and more than double the state average since 2012.

This doesn’t even include the hundreds of thousands of dollars in multiple, paid consultants on full-time retainer for such roles as “Communications and Media Strategist,” “24/7 Crises Management,” “Superintendent ‘Cabinet Member’,” and “Community Program Coordinator.”

Comparing 3-year averages identifies systemic long-term trends
  • All four subjects and composite declined
  • Math has shown the sharpest decline
  • Science trends significantly below other subjects
If elected, we will:
  • Examine the reasons for our excessive administration cost
  • Examine the reasons for our decline in ACT scores
  • Shift resources into classroom teaching and away from non-instructional personnel and expenditure
  • Develop transparent evaluation of critical performance metrics to address these important issues

SAT Scores at Lake Forest High School in Sad Decline

To repeat, we are concerned about the deteriorating academic performance of our high school. In addition to our poor national and state ranking relative to neighboring powerhouses like Stevenson and Hinsdale, consider this:

  • Because SAT performance implies academic rigor, top performing college admissions use SAT scores as their first cut before looking at the full application.
  • At LFHS most math, verbal and writing SAT scores are trending down across the entire student body.
  • These declines trace to the current effort by the school board and administration to experiment with a universal curriculum that eliminates or makes ineffective proven academic tracks: skills, intermediate, college prep, honors and AP, which better prepare students for the SAT and admission to the college of their choice. This is called “de-tracking.” We oppose it.
  • The past 2 years of LFHS Administrations’ Annual Reports to the school board DO NOT INCLUDE THESE DECLINING SAT TEST SCORES. Why not? Is this a conscious attempt to hide something? We propose transparency.

Avoid the de-tracking train wreck!

Ask your counselor if colleges would rather see a “C” in an AP course or a “B” or “A” in (what used to be called) College Prep. THEY DON’T!

Our opponents favor de-tracking at LFHS and support the fact that “subject matter class ‘tracks’ have been eliminated” (See DNS article here).

We oppose lumping students into fewer tracks to serve a political agenda. Lumping them into fewer tracks doesn’t serve their interests or their particular educational needs, whether AP, Honors, College Prep, Skills or Instructional.

De-tracking is a train wreck for everyone. Everyone.

As Advanced Placement Tests Gain Popularity, Some Colleges Push Back
The Wall Street Journal

More high-school students are taking Advanced Placement exams than ever—just as questions about their value are growing and some universities limit their acceptance of AP credits. Read the full story

  Keeping Our Eye on Academics and Housing Values

Source: Lake Forest High School, School Profile (compiled by LFHS Administration) for years 2010-2011, 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2014-2015, 2015-2016.

We are concerned that declining academic ranking also leads to a depressed housing market because over 90% of home-buyers deem public school boundaries important in their home search.

Source:  Berkshire Hathaway Market Study of Closed Sales 2015-2016, augmented with the same type of Home Sales Stats data for other communities on @properties realtor website www.lisafinks.com.

If elected, we will address these alarming trends and drive the administration to develop appropriate strategic actions.  We will then make sure that we highlight these strategic actions and provide effective communication to our community and surrounding communities, realtors and businesses moving into the Chicago area.  LFHS intends to regain its status as the premier North Shore public high school with a focus on academic rigor devoid of experimentation that dilute and detract from the LFHS educational mission.

Elect the Final Four

Serving Students, Strengthening our Community

Health and Safety

Alcohol and Drug Abuse at All Time Highs at LFHS

The Illinois Youth Survey presentation at the January 2017 LFHS Board meeting showed a disastrous rise in teen drinking at LFHS:  41% of 10th graders admitted alcohol use in the past 30 days and 22% of 10th graders admitted binging on alcohol in the past 30 days.  This is a significant rise from 2010.

The news is even worse for 12th graders surveyed: 60% admitted using alcohol in the past 30 days and 40% admitted binge drinking.

We think this is unacceptable. The rising trends in the use of alcohol and drugs is particularly dangerous for developing brains. Our children’s health, safety and quite possibly their lives are at risk when alcohol and drug use is made easy, affordable, glamorous and consequence-free.

The Final 4 will: re-evaluate current consequences for alcohol and drug abuse by students and support solutions that are fair, just, and much more effective than those currently in place.

Elevate LFHS and our communities with the Final 4 on the April 4 Ballot

January 20th, 2017

Dear Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and Knollwood Community member,

Permit us to introduce ourselves. We are four residents of LFHS District 115 who are seeking your vote on April 4 when you participate in our local municipal election for District 115 school board members.

Our goal is to better serve our Lake Forest High School students which, by extension, strengthens the reputation and value of our community.

We are intimately acquainted with the Lake Forest High School environment as our children have or are attending LFHS and/or local public elementary schools.  One of us is a graduate of LFHS.  One of our spouses is a graduate of LFHS.  We’re long-term members of the LFHS community, a community we love and support.

We have serious concerns about the oversight of LFHS in recent years and will be telling you more about those concerns and our findings in the coming weeks.

Feel free to contact us at lfhsfinal4@gmail.com. It is our job to understand your concerns and propose solutions.  It will be our privilege to serve students, homeowners and taxpayers in District 115, not other agendas.

Academic Excellence

Low Staff Morale Typically Leads to Loss of Great People

LFHS Staff’s view of current leadership is very concerning.  When morale is low, good people leave.  Good people leaving is a drag on academic excellence.

In 2016, only 47% of LFHS School Personnel gave their Leadership a positive rating.  This is unacceptable.

In February 2015 and now, in February 2017, the Administration is inviting parents, students and LFHS staff to participate in a survey called the “Comprehensive School Climate Inventory”.  This tool purports to obtain a “comprehensive” view of whether LFHS is doing a good, bad or mediocre job in the eyes of these stakeholders.

In February 2016, the Administration asked LFHS staff and students only, not parents, to participate in this “comprehensive” survey.

Incredibly, there was no reason to disinvite parents from participating in the 2016 survey:  the survey is priced “per student”, not per survey.  Were parents not invited because the present Administration doesn’t value parental input or because the Administration didn’t want a public record of parents’ opinions about LFHS during this election cycle?  Or both?

Here are the facts:

  • In February 2016, the District administered The National School Climate Center’s “Comprehensive School Climate Inventory” to LFHS staff and students only, and not to parents.
  • In May 2016, a puff-piece summary of those results was presented at an LFHS Board meeting.  Unfortunately as of February 2017, the District 115 landing page still highlights the Winter 2015 survey and makes no mention of the 2016 survey.    

Parents were not surveyed for their input in 2016, despite the fact that:

  1. The National School Climate Center does not deem the survey meaningful or “comprehensive” unless all three constituent groups—students, staff & parents—are surveyed and
  2. There is no cost saving in failing to obtain parent input as the survey is priced “per student”, not “per survey”.  Therefore, calling it “comprehensive” is not only misleading, conducting the survey was a waste of taxpayer money if the goal was obtaining an accurate picture of “school climate” because fully 1/3 of stakeholders were not invited to weigh in.

As noted above, not even half of LFHS staff gave the administration a positive rating.  Other results gained from the FOIA, but not made public, are these:

Only 47% of staff agree at least somewhat with the statement “I understand the long-range vision of our schools.” (The remaining responses were neutral, disagree, or strongly disagree.)

Only 45% of staff agree at least somewhat with the statement “I understand the direction building-level leaders have for our school.” (The remaining responses were neutral, disagree, or strongly disagree.)

Only 41% of staff agree at least somewhat with the statement, “I share the vision district-level leadership has set for our school.”  (The remaining responses were neutral, disagree, or strongly disagree.)

Only 30% of staff at least somewhat agree with the statement, “Input staff gives is reflected in final decisions made by district-level leaders.”  (The remaining responses were neutral, disagree, or strongly disagree.)

Only 27% of staff at least somewhat agree with the statement, “District-level leaders consider the impact of decisions on the workload placed on staff.” (The remaining responses were neutral, disagree, or strongly disagree.)

We are concerned taxpayers paid for a non-comprehensive “comprehensive” survey.  We are concerned that staff morale is low.  Most of all, we are concerned that the District doesn’t really care about what parents want for their children.

The District has recently announced the 2017 Comprehensive School Climate Inventory and invited parents to participate this time.  The results of the parent surveys will be released after the April 4th election.

If elected, the Final 4 will always seek and listen to parent input.  We will uncover the reasons why staff morale is low, why staff are uninformed about or haven’t bought into the District “vision” and make enhanced communication and collaboration a priority.

Source:  National School Climate Center, “The Comprehensive School Climate Inventory:  Measure the Climate for Learning,” PowerPoint Presentation, Prepared for Lake Forest High School, February 2016, Slide 6.

Source:  Email exchange between Neubauer and Fraiegari at National School Climate Center.

We pay a premium for inferior educational results at LFHS

This is unbelievable, but it’s true…

  • LFHS ranks a dismal 580th place to neighboring Stevenson High School’s 166th place in the latest US News and World Report’s Best High Schools national rank.
  • LFHS is 19th place to Stevenson’s 5th place in the Illinois ranking.
  • And to add insult to injury, District 115 taxpayers currently spend nearly $37,000 (instructional and operational) to educate one student. Stevenson significantly outranks LFHS in the US News ranking but spends about $30,000 to educate one student, or about 27% less than what LFHS spends.

 

Our families are paying a premium and getting an inferior educational product.  It’s hurting our children, our home values and our community.

The current LFHS school board, including the incumbents running against us in this race, has its eye off the academic ball, and it is time for a change. The education our children receive at LFHS is the foundation for the rest of their lives. There is no do-over!

Share This