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New 186 School Board Starts Off With Tense Meeting

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Tensions were high at last night’s (5/6) Springfield district 186 school board meeting as the 

  new board was seated and a president and vice president were appointed.

The meeting started with goodbyes for the previous school board members.

Outgoing vice president Bill Looby, who didn’t run this time around, said he was sorry that he wasn’t more transparent during his tenure – especially about the separation agreement with previous superintendent Walter Milton.The new board voted for Chuck Flamini to be the president, and for Adam Lopez to serve as vice president. Both members are serving on the board for the first time. Judy Johnson, the board’s longest serving member - opposed both. She had harsh words for the new board heads, here she is talking about Flamini and then Lopez:

JOHNSON: “He just got here, you can tell he doesn’t know anything about parliamentary procedure. Adam just got here, he doesn’t know anything about parliamentary procedure. And they’re leading the school board – we look like a national joke.”

Johnson says she thinks the new school board could fare worse than the previous one:

JOHNSON: “If you look at the people that are here, they don’t give a damn about educating kids.”

Flamini says he hopes the meetings will be more cordial than they were the first night, with arguments erupting regarding the new appointments as well as how to conduct a search for the new superintendent. He says he hopes to take the new board in a positive direction:

FLAMINI: “That was very humbling to have been voted president. But there’s a lot of work to do and I think we’ll get it done. We’ll try to get this where there’s less and less controversy and fighting. There’s plenty to deal with, and I think we’ll be okay.”

The board voted down an attempt to find a way to reinstate the Capitol College Preparatory Academy, which the previous board voted to close months ago. The new board will have another meeting to discuss the search for a new superintendent. That will be a public meeting held at 5:30 on Thursday. So far no timeline has been put in place on finding someone for that role.

– Rachel Otwell

Rachel Otwell of the Illinois Times is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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