Park Ridge board of education member Anthony Borrelli, far right.
There is something healthy and democratic about citizen school boards.
That’s why many in Chicago would like one. Chicago is the only school district in the state without an elected school board.
The district I retired from in June has one, of course. Over the years I have worked with some pretty terrific school board members. I have also worked with some clunkers.
Last night the Park Ridge board of education approved the collective bargaining agreement that they negotiated with the Park Ridge Education Association. It was approved by a vote of 5 to 2.
The four-year deal included a modest 2% per year cost of living adjustment and a small improvement in insurance costs for teachers.
Antony Borrelli was one of the two board members who voted no.
This was no surprise.
Borrelli is a Park Ridge podiatrist. By all accounts he does pretty well in his field of taking care of people’s feet.
He also thinks smaller class sizes are too expensive. He wants no added staff regardless of enrollment increases.
In a district that has for years placed an emphasis on educating the whole child, students’ emotional intelligence and academic progress, Borrelli is almost obsessed with how Park Ridge schools rank in the state (very well, by the way). He is obsessed with costs reductions regardless of need in a district that runs a 40% budget surplus.
I’m no expert of feet. And I’m not sure how Borrelli got to be an expert on education and class size. I never saw him in my school. I know of no teacher who ever had a conversation with Borelli on education policy. Borelli never asked any of us any questions, to my knowledge.
But he has no shortage of opinions.
An Illinois no-strike law for teachers? Borelli is for it.
An end to tenure? Check. Although he’s a little late on that one. SB7 did away with tenure.
An end to existing teacher collective bargaining laws? Yep. He’s a regular Scott Walker on that one.
Teacher union Fair Share laws? Borrelli is against it.
The Illinois Constitutional requirement that the state pay its share of teacher retirement instead of into Social Security? No, no, says Borrelli.
It was no surprise that the wealthy foot doctor is against any pay increases for teachers and staff. Apparently Borelli believes we can improve instruction with less money, few teachers, less support staff, bigger class sizes and a compensation schedule for making Park Ridge less competitive for good teachers.
That Borrelli believed all this nonsense when he was running was no surprise to me. I read his campaign material.
It may have been a surprise to voting parents in Park Ridge who stayed away from the polls in droves when Borrelli won.
Part of the requirement when you have an elected school board is paying attention. It requires that the community and parents need to be involved in who gets elected.
Next time four of the seven seats will be up for election.
Does a progressive thinking community like Park Ridge really need four more like Anthony Borrelli?