Berwyn’s Board of Education denied a resolution that would have increased the district’s debt by $14 million the evening of Sept. 28 at Heritage Middle School, in the presence of several Berwyn community members.
Berwyn residents, both those with children in the Berwyn school system and those without, came together, some to simply witness the proceedings and others to attempt to persuade the Board either direction for the vote.
The debate over whether to increase the debt in the hopes of creating a mandatory preschool program, among other projects, became quite heated as various people expressed different opinions on the matters.
David Avala, a former teacher in Berwyn, stated that universal preschool is a “game changer.” “It could really change people’s lives,” he said, stating it would reduce costs in mental health and crime. “Although it won’t directly benefit a lot of people, it will have enormous indirect benefits.”
Right before the vote, school board member Joanne Zendol spoke, trying to convince other board members to vote against the resolution. “We can’t keep borrowing money…and we need space for already established programs,” she said. Zendol suggested looking at alternative measures instead of going further into debt.
Ted Korbos, a Berwyner who had spoken against the resolution said he was pleased with the decision.
“I think Joann’s speech was the right thing. I actually support early childhood education, but not by increasing debt by 70 percent,” he said.
Zendol has been a board member for 23 years. She said after the meeting that one of the most important issues facing the education system is preparing a child for a full, global education. “I worry about creative thinking. It’s not just about test scores even though we have to teach to the test. A full education is essential,” Zendol said.
The Board of Education plans to have its next meeting Oct. 26 at Irving school. Approved board meetings can be viewed at bsd100.org.