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Prairie Crossing board still bickering despite warning
By Bob Susnjara | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/12/2007 12:14 AM

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About two weeks ago, state education officials put bickering Prairie Crossing Charter School board members on notice that they must improve their performance.

How well the board performed at its meeting Tuesday night in Grayslake is a matter of debate.

Board member John Rizzo locked horns again with President Linda Wiens, this time over possible bylaw changes. He said discussion about changes in rules governing the board keeps getting delayed for whatever reason.

"Linda, do whatever you want," Rizzo told Wiens. "You're going to do whatever you want anyway."

Grayslake's Prairie Crossing is Lake County's only charter school and is known for its environmentally focused curriculum. In May, it was named one of 53 charter schools of the year by the Center for Educational Reform in Washington, D.C.

Illinois State Board of Education representatives last month in a letter stated the agency would consider revoking Prairie Crossing's charter if board members didn't improve their performance. Two factions of four board members had been clashing on issues and unable to make decisions because of tied votes.

Meeting minutes also became a matter of debate at Tuesday's meeting. Prairie Crossing board member Laura Elizabeth Fay questioned the accuracy of the synopsis of comments from recent meetings that were recorded by one of her colleagues.

Rizzo said "hyperbole" in the minutes should be eliminated and the gist of what occurred at a meeting streamlined in the future.

When asked whether most school boards have a policy over how to handle written minutes of a meeting, attorney Robert Kohn said that's not the case.

"Most school districts, it's not an issue," Kohn said, "and they don't have a policy."

As a public school, Prairie Crossing receives students from Woodland Elementary District 50 and Fremont Elementary District 79. Enrollment last month was at 359 pupils, with a waiting list of about 170 children to enter kindergarten through fourth grade.

Illinois' per-pupil general state aid follows Prairie Crossing' children, who attend kindergarten through eighth grade. Parents of students from elsewhere may pay out-of-area tuition.

One other charter school recently began operating in the suburbs. Cambridge Lakes Learning Center serves grade-school children in Pingree Grove and is open to students in the Carpentersville-based Community Unit District 300 system.