A sometimes fractured District 200 Board of Education stressed unity as it elected new officers during its May 27 regular board meeting.
Dietra Millard was elected president – returning to the post she resigned last November – and John Allen vice president. First-term member Terry Finnegan was elected board secretary. Nominated by Allen, Ralph Lee has served as president pro tempore of the board since last November, replacing Millard. Her stepping down followed a contentious episode involving the contract talks of Supt. Attila Weninger that stalled early last fall but were reopened in late November, engineered by Allen without prior notice to Millard. That move also upset some of the other board members.
Millard received four votes last week to Lee’s two. Allen garnered five votes for vice president, compared to three for Finnegan, who was nominated by Amy McCormack for that post. Allen, who was elected in 2007, was surprised to get that many votes and expressed appreciation to those who supported him. Upon returning as board president, Millard encouraged members to share their concerns and thoughts with her moving forward.
In expressing support for Millard, McCormack stressed her tenure on the board as one of the longest among currently serving members – the other being Jacques Conway, also in his second term. McCormack also noted Millard serving as a mentor to her as a first-term trustee, saying that she could provide similar support for incoming superintendent Steven Isoye.
“I want to first say how grateful I am to Ralph for the hard work he’s done the last several months. But as only one of two people in their second term right now, I think there is incredible historical and institutional knowledge that is very, very important in mentoring a new superintendent,” McCormack said.
Finnegan, who nominated Millard, expressed a similar view in favor of her.
Of Lee, Allen noted how divided the board has been and how Lee has been able to bring them together.
“Ralph came into this office several months ago back when this board was pretty badly fractured. All of us are well-meaning and well-intentioned, and we’re all committed to our views. But our board is much more unified, and a lot of that has come from Dr. Lee,” Allen said.
Millard voted for herself and was backed by Finnegan, McCormack, and Conway. In his brief statement of support, Conway told Millard that he would have tried to talk her out of resigning back in November. Board member Sharon Patchak-Layman did not vote for either and made no statement concerning that position.