D128 Union voices concerns at school board meeting


Alex Clark

Social studies teacher Sarah Greenswag gives an impassioned speech on behalf of the D128 union during the board of education meeting on Feb. 27, 2023. Her speech outlined four issues including the lack of timely communication from administrators and low morale among teachers and staff.

On Feb. 27, 2023, social studies teacher Sarah Greenswag addressed the D128 Board of Education on behalf of the D128 Union during the public comment portion of the monthly meeting. Ms. Greenswag was joined by dozens of her colleagues in the Vernon Hills High School library who were there to show support for the message delivered to the board.

“I have worked in this district for ten years and I’m a proud union member,” Ms. Greenswag said. “I was asked to speak on behalf of our union membership to express directly to you, the school board and administration, our collective questions and observations about the direction our district seems to be moving in.”

“Our union is a body of 291 members, each with their own unique and diverse perspectives and experiences,” she explained. “While we cannot speak to all of them in this limited time frame, we want to provide a snapshot of some of our collective curiosities and concerns.”

Ms. Greenswag cited four issues noted by the union. The first issue involved a “lack of timely and effective communication” from the board of education and the administration.

“For one example, this is now the second time this year that the final exam schedule has not been communicated to staff or students making it difficult to plan end of year experiences and adding stress for our kids,” explained Ms. Greenswag.

The issue involving lack of communication has been echoed not only across the D128 Union but also across the student body. LHS student board representatives Fatima Elemenshawy, Jasmine Lafita and Sarah Wuh agreed and shared feedback from students on how this lack of communication has made it stressful, especially for seniors, to plan and study properly for finals.

The second issue involved low morale among teachers and staff.

“For example, the widespread perception that our district is adopting a more ‘top down’ business-minded model that feels impersonal and disconnected from the humaneness of our work with students,” said Ms. Greenswag.

The third issue involved the allocation of financial resources, specifically involving “the potential fallout from the increase in special education class sizes at the expense of one of our most vulnerable student populations.”

“This is an addition to the expansion of administrative positions at the district level, at the cost of building leadership that’s more accessible to staff and students,” Ms. Greenswag said.

The union is concerned about special education class sizes being increased thus reducing the number of teachers needed while simultaneously increasing the number of administrators, which are in less direct contact with students.

The fourth issue involved maintaining D128’s reputation as a high-achieving district.

“Expectations for students have decreased both academically and behaviorally,”  Ms. Greenswag said. “In addition, this district has historically been a destination for families and teachers, attracting the most talented and motivated people in the field. Today we fear we are moving in the opposite direction as our best and most talented are stepping down from or simply not seeking leadership positions.”

According to protocol for the public comment portion, the Board of Education received the comments but did not reply to them during the meeting.

“We look forward to seeing the actions that the district administration and school board will take to address these issues,” said Ms. Greenswag.