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Thursday, March 21, 2013 11:14 am

Letters to the Editor 3/21/13


Former park district executive director Michael Stratton.

The article “Use it or get paid” by Bruce Rushton (March 7) was a real eye opener. Springfield Park District has paid former park district executive director Michael Stratton more than $28,000 for 725 hours of unused vacation time beginning in 2010 through 2012. January through November of 2012 alone Mr. Stratton was paid $11,231 for 355 hours of accrued vacation. That works out to be 32 hours of vacation each month or close to 10 weeks of vacation a year. Does this seem excessive?

I also have to ask how busy can he be during the winter managing the parks. They are basically closed. How necessary is this job when he can take off 10 weeks a year? How was the park district making this kind of vacation payout for three years and nobody noticed $165,000 missing?

I suggest a review of all park district full-time positions for their need. Every position getting more than four weeks of paid vacation time a year should be cut to a part-time position.

Jerald Jacobs


I wish Springfield would show the same enthusiasm for the Veteran’s Day Parade as it does the St. Patrick’s Day and State Fair parades. Perhaps if they opened all the downtown bars there would be a better turnout ... just saying.

Sandra Sklenka

In the context of a stunning set of problems in Springfield School District 186, we face an election for school board. The board’s tasks are daunting; and yet, remarkably, every election brings people willing to serve. Should we have any confidence that returning some current members or adding new members will repair the consequences of past decision-making and prevent problems from recurring? This time around, let us raise questions about what is required for qualified and independent decision-making.

Most frequently, board candidates come to the challenge from their perspective as parents with particular experiences and ideas for change. The particular focus is reinforced by a governing structure which makes them accountable to electors in a geographic subdistrict and sensitive to the particular concerns of schools within it. Once on the board, however, members are asked to make decisions covering substantive areas such as financing and budgeting, labor relations, educational programming and policy, and student and program performance monitoring and outcome assessment. Absent some training and staffing assistance, they risk making uninformed decisions, “rubber stamping” administration recommendations and/or being influenced by constituencies such as unions and political parties.

Unlike public health, which has identified an immunization herd ration required to protect a community against disease, we have no comparable measure for civic involvement. We are barely even talking about the social, economic and political consequences of food, housing and safety security; or of educational skills for employment, quality of life and citizenship. What happens in Springfield School District 186 affects all of us. Let us talk about citizenship.

Gabrielle D’Elia Shufeldt

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