The Evanston Township High School District 202 Board Monday night failed for a second time–by the same 3-to-3 vote–to pick a successor to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation last month of William Geiger.

The move came after the board had met with each of the 14 persons who had applied for the position and leaves the board with less than three weeks to make a decision, or it will be made for them by the Regional Superintendent of Schools, according to Board President Pat Savage-Williams.

Regional offices are subsections of the Illinois State Board of Education and are designed to provide support services for local districts. The Evanston schools are served by the Northern Cook County office, located in Des Plaines.

From left: Holt, Livingston, Metz, Savage-Williams, Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, Parsons, and Baum.

Two weeks ago, Board member Mark Metz proposed that the board suspend its written policy on filling board vacancies and select Anne Sills, who came in a close fourth in the five-way race in April to fill three of the seven positions on the board.

His motion failed by a 3-3 tie, as two of the dissenters, Doug Holt and Gretchen Livingston, said they felt the board should stand by its policy and interview the 14 persons who had applied for the position. Jonathan Baum cast the third vote that defeated the motion.

Monday night, Metz moved that the board appoint Anne Sills to the position. She had arrived in the meeting room at the same time as the board members, leaving the few people in the audience to suspect that Sills was the chosen candidate.

During the public comment section of the meeting, three persons—Bennett Johnson, Betty Sue Ester, and Missy Fleming—spoke glowingly of Sills’ qualifications, and it appeared that the board members had agreed upon Sills in their three-hour closed session that preceded the public meeting.

When the roll-call vote was taken, Monique Parsons, Metz, and Savage-Williams voted yes, while Holt, Livingston, and Baum voted no. The entire meeting lasted less than 30 minutes.

In the audience Monday night was one of the 14 candidates, Andrew Bezaitis, who ran unsuccessfully for the board in the 2013 election.

Following the meeting, Savage-Williams told Evanston Now that she hopes the board can agree on a candidate by July 10, but that she did not plan to seek additional applicants.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. D202 Board Seat
    After watching the D202 Board meeting last night and listening to supporters of Anne Sills, I want to share a different perspective.

    I do not support Anne Sills. And many, many other people in Evanston did not support her campaign, nor support the efforts to coronate her to the vacant D202 seat, contrary to what some board members and a few other community members say.

    Remember, Anne lost the most recent election. She got less than 20% of votes. That’s NOT widespread support.

    Second, in Anne’s other school board election she lost. Anne is well known in the community, but lacks widespread support. There’s a reason.

    Third, Anne was a huge supporter of the most recent 5th Ward School proposal and the community defeated this idea by a VERY WIDE MARGIN.
    Why Anne supported resegregating Evanston students when ETHS is trying to integrate all students is troubling to many people.
    In addition, this would have been a fiscal disaster for Evanston schools and taxpayers. Not only did Anne support spending $50 million to build the school but the annual operating expenses would significantly increase taxes.

    D202 needs a fiscally responsible board member, and that’s not Anne Sills.

    13 other Evanstonians submitted an application and all candidates should be interviewed and fully vetted
    to select the very best candidate who will serve the interests of ALL students at ETHS.

    1. Baum, Holt, Livingston: do the right thing.

      There was an election two months ago, a five way race for three seats. Anne Sills came in fourth, trailing third by about 200 votes. Now there is a fourth vacancy.

      Only one of the 14 applicants received 2100 votes from Evanstonians two months ago. The logical, democratic thing to do would be to appoint that person to the school board.

      Baum, Holt, and Livingston need to do the right thing.

      1. Bottom Line: She Lost

        Yes, Anne Sills ran in an election. The voters had the opportunity to choose her – they didn't. The board has a policy and they are following it. If she is the best applicant for the position, the board should choose her. If not, they should choose one of the 13 other people who applied. Since when does running a campaign make you necessarily qualified to hold a position? Name one other elected office where a vacancy that gets filled by the next highest vote getter.

      2. Yes, “Do the right thing”

        "The right thing" is to review every and all candidates and select the best person to serve on D202 Board. Why do the privileged elite in Evanston including former board members, Rachel Heyman, Martha Burns, and Andy Pigozzi, think that just because Anne Sills ran a campaign that she is entitled to a seat on the board? The best candidate should be selected to represent the interests of the entire community.

        One voice clearly missing from D202 board is from the Hispanic community. Why should we just automatically appoint another white woman when there is a highly qualified Latina who is willing to serve? Doesn't Evanston embrace diversity? Let's use this opportunity to diversify the board and not just appease the privileged interests of a few vocal community members who know how to "work the system."

        Look at all 14 members and "do the right thing" – select the best candidate

        1. Interesting use of language

          Interesting use of language. The "privileged elite" position is to appoint the only person who actually received thousands of votes in the election, and the presumably "democratic" position is for three obstructionist board members to pick their preferred applicant?

          And by all means, Latinos/Latinas should be on the board. When they run in an election.

          1. What about Andy Bezaitis?

            Andy Bezaitis also ran in an election. Why isn't he just as viable a candidate as Anne Sills? Mark Metz was originally appointed to the board. Omar Brown was originally appointed to D65. Why is this election suddenly so magically important? Maybe the "obstructionist" board members want to appoint the most qualified applicant. And that isn't the person who lost the last election.

          2. Bezaitis as viable as (if not more so than) Sills

            Bezatis actually received 23% more votes than Sills even though he was running against 7 candidates for 4 seats, while she was undeniably the only other serious candidate when she finished 4th for 3 seats. If Metz thinks she is the only viable option out of the 14 applicants (many of whom bring years of ETHS knowledge and experience) because of her loss in the Apr. election, maybe he should just resign and give her his seat since he beat her by < 200 votes.

    2. There are 13 options other than Anne Sills

      Really disappointed in Monique Parsons.  I thought she would have more integrity and independence on this important issue.  There are 14 applicants and she seems to have joined Mark Metz and Pat Savage Williams in thinking that Anne Sills is the only acceptable candidate.  Monique has also bought into the bizarre "will of the voters" argument.  But the voters REJECTED Anne Sills and it would be disrespectful to the MAJORITY of voters who decided not to vote for Anne to reject the established process and embrace Anne (a process established by the Illinois Association of School Boards).  And I'm sure Monique would not be making the same argument on behalf Adrian Dortch if Anne Sills hadn't run in the election).  Thankfully, Anne Sills has now been rejected.  So let's please look at  the 13 other candidates.  I'm sure there is an acceptable applicant in that group that everyone can agree upon and we can avoid the divisiveness created by the irrational, myopic and now pointless push to appoint Anne Sills.

      1. True Obstructionists: Savage-Williams, Parsons and Metz

        Now we know who the true obstructionists are on the ETHS Board.  It is apparent from these proceedings that Pat Savage -Williams, Mark Metz and Monique Parsons won't consider any of the other 13 candidates for the school board postions.  It appears they will consider only Anne Sills.   Anne is one of the least qualified of the other applicants.  She has not been involved with ETHS except for lobbying our representives-not a very productive job when you look at the State and their funding.  Anne's only other care seems to be food-not a big issue at ETHS.  

        There are 13 other applicants-some who are highly qualified, too bad these 3 school board members refuse to consider other candidates .Even at the expense of adding needed diversity to the board. Notice no other meeetings are scheduled? True obstructionists! These 3 board members are doing a disservice to the Evanston-Skokie community. 

        Any board watcher knew Metz was this way-but now it is confirmed Pat Savage-Williams and Monique Parsons are the same. 

  2. Leadership on D202 Board

    As a parent of ETHS students I am concerned about the leadership on the ETHS school board. Well functioning boards are critically important to every organizations. So far the process for filling Bill Geiger's seat on the ETHS school has been much to be desired. I understand that people have different opinions and approaches, but i appeal to the board to act in a professional and respectful manner. ETHS is a cornerstone of Evanston and many people are watching how this process is unfolding. There are 14 candidates for this position. I assume several have different qualities and skills that can enhance and improve the ETHS board. But in order to find the best candidate, the current ETHS board has to meet, talk, and discuss their qualifications. 

    The leadership from Board President, Pat Savage-Williams and Vice President, Mark Metz is important to this process. Their ability or inability to bring the board and community together will be their legacy. Important and challenging issues define true leaders.

    The ETHS website has July 13th as the next board meeting. That's after the July 11th deadline for appointing a replacement. Hopefully Ms. Williams and Mr. Metz will arrange other meetings and move this process forward to fill this board seat.

    Pushing off this decision to the Regional Superintendent will be an embarrassment to the Evanston community and an indictment on the leadership of the ETHS board.

    On behalf of all students and our community, please set aside your personal and political agendas and select the best qualified candidate who will strengthen the board and serve all constituents.


    1. Process appears to be lacking

      I don't have an opinion on Sills other than she wants to be on the board and has given time to the schools which means she should be considered.

      She was very close in the election but did not win. And so her results are no different than the other candidates who did not win.

      If the election were to be redone and the winners omitted from contention, it is just as conceivable that Sills would fall short as win.

      The process used to make the selection looks to lacking. The chair person should have publicly announced a logical process by which the group of 14 (or whatever) would be reduced to a manageable group. And then the board members could rank the entire slate, agreeing to support whichever candidate received the highest cumulative ranking.

      Instead, one candidate looks to have been pushed forward and the result is not a surprise.

    2. Another special board meeting needed

      We have yet to see our school board vote on 13 of the 14 applicants for the position.  They can keep up their "Groundhog Day" approach with repeated motions to appoint Sills getting defeated in a 3-3 tie, or they can vote on any (or all) of the other 13 options.  If the blocks remain unchanged and every motion goes down to a 3-3 defeat, it will tell us something about our board.  In that event, one person, the regional superintendent, will make the choice for us, rather than six or more.  Personally, I hope to see at least one more special board meeting called before July 10 in which they can try to take action, rather than seeing them completely abdicate this responsibility. 

  3. Consider ALL Applicants

    I am sorely disappointed in the District 202 leadership. A new Board president was just elected, and now we see members spending their time first trying to change due process, and then interviewing 13 candidates as a charade. Is it because they do not have children at ETHS that they feel no urgency to deal with the real issues that impact ETHS students and their families' day-to-day experiences? Is there nothing more important to do? Their behavior and the political jockeying surrounding is an insult to the community.  Definitely not a great time to be a Wildkit family these days.

    1. Goal: Have the Best Operating D202 Board

      As it was already stated, please let us not get into the specifics of talking about or “voting” for each candidate, but rather focus on what is needed to have the best operating school board for Evanston D202. There really has not been any discussion of this nature so far – mostly arguments are about specific candidates and the processes.

      In order to have a well functioning board, we should be looking at the strengths that existing D202 board members bring to making decisions and what skills or strengths are missing or could be made stronger for the D202 Board. For example, perhaps more expertise and knowledge in finance and fiscal responsibility, educational research and policy, and strategic goal planning and accountability is needed. 

      Evanston is fortunate to have such a deep pool of talent to select from to enhance the D202 Board. Many of these exceptional proposed candidates can provide expertise in these areas to strengthen the Board, but more information is needed for the public. However, the board has much more knowledge of all of these candidates if they choose to use it.

      So instead of voting on a specific person, let us help and encourage the board members to write down their goals and what skills are needed to balance and compose the best possible Board that is needed for D202 today. They should be able to agree on these attributes even if they can not agree on a specific candidate. Another meeting with the Board and public is warranted before the time runs out to have this discussion.  This type of information will also be useful if the time does run out (July 11th) and the Regional Superintendent of Schools has to make a decision. Otherwise, Evanston will have lost its chance to be thoughtful and effective in providing a new D202 board member. 

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