Terry FinneganFile 2009

For the first time in two years there will be a new person presiding over meetings of the Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 Board of Education. Thursday night Terry Finnegan was unanimously chosen by his colleagues to be the new president of the OPRF board.

The District 200 board elects its officers annually. Finnegan, who had been the board’s vice president for the past year takes the gavel from Dee Millard who had served as board president for the last two years.

Finnegan, an Oak Park resident, was nominated for the post by John Phelan who was later unanimously chosen to be board vice-president.

“I like his experience as a recent parent in the district,” Phelan said in nominating Finnegan to be board president.

Finnegan, the father of four OPRF graduates, was elected to the OPRF board in 2009. He works as a benefits advisor for Aon Hewitt, and previously worked for Park National Bank.

Finnegan praised Millard for the job she did as president, which one board member likened to herding porcupines.

Finnegan said he would stress communication and wanted to have as open of communication and dialogue as possible.

“I will be open to any and all communications,” Finnegan said. “I will try to do as good a job as Dee and, whenever I can, reach out and have open lines of communication.”

Finnegan spoke of the recent special meeting of the board in the OPRF Little Theater in which about 60 students and parents made public comments praising the teachers who received layoff notices and critical of the board’s decision to send layoff notices to 21 teachers.

“That’s the sort of dialogue we need to foster and I think our strategic plan will further that,” Finnegan said.

Finnegan said that he plans to run for reelection to board next year.

“Continuity in board makeup is very important and retaining knowledge is a very valuable asset on a board,” Finnegan said. “If people don’t want to vote me back in that’s their own choice, but I feel I need to put myself up for it.”

Millard who remains on the board wished Finnegan well as president.

“I have to wish him the very best,” Millard said. “It takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of luck as well. You’ll be challenged.”

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