Resignation Shatters Calm on 113 Project
Shapiro resigns from leadership committee despite progress between people who opposed each other a year ago.
After more than a year of measured progress among the factions surrounding the defeat of a 2011 referendum to make $133 million in capital improvements at Deerfield and Highland Park High Schools, the calm was shattered Wednesday.
Previously, the Township High School District 113 School Board and Superintendent George Fornero reached out to everyone involved and invited them to the table to study potential alternatives after the voters rejected the plan.
Six committees including a leadership committee were formed to look at all aspects of the District’s needs. The findings of the leadership committee are scheduled to presented at a May 21 Board meeting. That committee became a member smaller on Wednesday.
Sam Shapiro of Highland Park, who is part of the Education First group that opposed the proposal, left the leadership committee over a flap about whether raw data of a community survey would be released.
“This was presented as a decision by the leadership committee and we never voted on it,” Shapiro said. “It was a board decision.”
He felt his credibility as part of the group was damaged. “I felt we got away from transparency.”
The survey was done under the supervision of the market research committee to gauge the public mood about needed capital expenditures at the two schools. Results of the survey have been posted on the District website since March.
Though the leadership committee may not have voted, there was a great deal of discussion and the consensus was the raw data from the survey should not be released, according to District 113 Communications Director Natalie Kaplan.
“A majority of the members on both the Market Research Committee and the Leadership Committee decided that the raw data requested should not be released,” School Board President Harvey Cohen said in a statement responding to a request for the raw data from Frank Pirri of Deerfield, the head of Education First.
“It was the professional opinion of the community members on the market research committee that releasing raw data is not a common professional practice,” Cohen added. “The recommendations are prudent and should be honored.”
Though Shapiro was not happy with what he called a lack of transparency by Fornero, he was mostly pleased with the results of the survey. He thought they demonstrated the arguments made by Education First. “It was a reflection of the community,” he said.
Tomorrow’s story will focus on the consensus that was built over the last year through the work of the committees and the education everyone, including Fornero and the Board, received from the work of the committees.