Letter: Dear Mr. Pruneau, 'Every Time I Turn Around, I'm Asked to Donate More'

The discussion about new school start times was underway last summer. Elmhurst mom and District 205 alum explains the impact of schedule changes by looking at how things used to be.

Elmhurst parent Debbie Stephan shares a letter she wrote to Elmhurst Unit District 205 Superintendent David Pruneau Aug. 8, 2012. This was her second correspondence with Pruneau on the topic of rescheduling school start times. While he responded to her first inquiry, she says she is still waiting for a response to this one.

Hi Mr. Pruneau,
Nobody understands the difficult economic times more than a family with one income and three kids. (But because we live in Elmhurst, I guess everyone assumes we have a disposable income.)

I was raised in this town and went through all of the schools here. I remember a consistent schedule. There were no registration fees in grade schools, school sponsored activities, parking spots at York and school sports didn't have any fees either. My mother never sent in Kleenex, paper towels, Ziploc bags, sanitizer, wipes, etc.—the non-school supplies that evidently then were supplied by the school or district.

Every time I turn around I'm being asked to donate more!

Obviously, gas, food, school supplies, sport programs, activities, etc. are through the roof and rising every time someone makes a decision that is supposed to be best for everyone. We are ALL at the mercy of others. I guess what makes me upset is that I would like to go back to work now that my youngest will be in school full time because we could use the extra money to help with these rising costs to raise a family.  

Related: Idea of Adjusting to a New School Start Time Next Year Has Parents on Edge

But how am I to find a job when I don't have consistent times that my children will be at school. Are we as parents supposed to constantly rearrange our lives to fit into the district's budget?

Evidently, I did not make a wise purchase on my house nine years ago, because my children will not get bused anywhere in this town due to the fact we just miss the boundaries, so I have to drive them. (This also makes it very difficult to find a job when I have to drop them off and pick them up.) There are too many crazy drivers, and registered sex offenders, so I am concerned for my children's safety.

Ever been to Lincoln School at pick-up at 3 p.m.? Check it out. I'm surprised no child has never been killed crossing the street, with over 200 cars picking up their children. The transportation issue may affect many but it also DOES NOT affect many others. So why should the rest of us have to pay for the changes?

I know nothing is certain yet, and I do understand where you are coming from, but I hope you can understand where I'm coming from, too.

I also forgot to mention that the time change will affect parents who have to take other children to preschools, etc., after school sports, religious education programs, Park District programs and many other things that are important to our children, too.

Thank you for (hopefully) reading this very long email. I do appreciate your time and response.

—Debbie Stephan, Elmhurst

David January 17, 2013 at 09:51 PM
This letter sums up the problems we face at all levels of government. Everyone wants government to do more (provide Kleenex, paper towels, Ziploc bags, sanitizer, wipes...), not reduce services (change the bus schedule to save money) while people want to pay less in taxes/fees. This is our own local version of the "fiscal cliff" issues faced at the federal level where democrats wanted to raise taxes, and republicans wanted to reduce services, and nobody wants to compromise.
5DecadesInElmhurs January 17, 2013 at 10:31 PM
I mostly agree with the need for consistency in a the school schedules, but my times in Elmhurst schools were a little different. In my Yorkfield School days, we were always asked to bring in a box of Kleenex. Each teacher was thus assured that there would be a year long supply. I walked home for lunch but I remember the other kids having to pay for the milk they got in the gym at lunch time. At York, we were all part of a ten period day and attended in shifts. Junior year, I had a semester where I started at 7:30 Am, and my day was complete at 11:30 AM. My lunch was to begin at 11:30 but the buses didn't run until 1:30. I would either walk or wait. I also seem to remember some fees for band students and misc field trips.
Seren Dipity January 17, 2013 at 11:02 PM
Debbie, if you want to know why everything is so expensive in our schools, please go to http://www.championnews.net On that website, you can find search a database that lists all the school districts in Illinois and see teachers' and administrators' salaries, pensions and ages at retirement. You see, services and activities for the kids are reduced so that the administrators and teachers can enjoy heft medical, retirement and salary packages, along with lengthy holiday and summer vacations. Don't be fooled, Debbie. Your letter is very similar to one I sent about 8 years ago to District 205 wherein I complained about all the activity fees, book fees, etc. Only the taxpayers are supposed to shoulder bad economic times, Debbie - not government and other public sector employees.
ElmhurstTeach January 18, 2013 at 02:30 AM
Dip - Your narrow-minded post sickens me. I got in this profession to help and guide kids, not to make money...quite frankly I'd be making twice the amount if I worked in the private sector, but I chose to be an educator. I spend my "lengthy holiday and summer vacations" coaching and teaching kids because I want to make a difference, not because I make about $5/hour coaching. That leaves about 2 weeks in the summer that I feel fortunate enough to spend with my family, I don't complain. I give hundreds of dollars to YSET each year because I want to help kids participate in activities because of the rising fees, not because I like to live pay check to pay check. I keep my classroom stocked with food so that kids who are hungry during the day know they can come get a snack. When a kid doesn't have money for lunch, I give them money out of my pocket, never expecting it to be repaid...why? Because I treat these kids as if they are my own. Kleenex? I buy it, because I think it's the least I can do for my students (oh...and it's Puffs Plus with lotion, because I wouldn't buy anything less for my kids, so why would I for my students?). I spend hundreds of hours outside of the school day with my kids academically so they can experience success, all unpaid (not that I would ever expect to be). My kids (students) have always come first, regardless if my standard of living decreases. I've never expected accolades, at least I know my kids will show appreciation for what I do.
Ken T January 18, 2013 at 03:32 AM
Great letter. I wonder if he will reply. Doubtful. Elmhurst Press posted article online today about this issue. Seems this has been in discussions since last summer??? I'm going to school board meeting this Tuesday 1/22 @ 730 at board building on York. I suggest anyone upset by this proposal to show and represent the opposition.
DAS719 January 18, 2013 at 04:38 AM
You are correct about "a box of kleenex", or a "roll of paper towels,and yes, fee's for band and field trips too. My whole point was not the Kleenex, it's the big picture. Due to the District's increase in their facility rentals this year, Elmhurst Baseball and the YMCA Basketball programs were increased. This is the kind of stuff I'm talking about too, not the $1 box of kleenex. I have to laugh at the cost of a parking spot at York. It sounds ridiculous that your kid can drive themselves to school and not cost the District a busing fee but parents still have to take money out of their pockets anyway!
Janie January 18, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Champion news is a great website. You'll find we have two gym teachers at York making $140,000 a year - for a 9 month job. Where do I sign up?
B Rush January 18, 2013 at 05:41 PM
...for those reading this ElmhurstTeach has a shocking grand sense of entitlement in the 12 sentences written by ElmhurstTeach the word "I" appears 26 times... over twice per sentence the word "I" is the predominant thought on her/his mind the feeling that ElmhurstTeach is ENTITLED to a lifetime of pay for a few decades of work comes across strong #ElmhurstTeach personal attack (..post sickens me) is clear and the self-congratulating tone of the ElmhurstTeach pats on the back don't play instead of "I" ......put students first (or at least once in your thoughts and sentences) the word students appears zero times ElmhurstTeach's thinking is why Illlinois is broke government employees/teachers can't get a solution our city is divided exactly 50 50 our nation is divided 50 / 50 teachers feel they will take no reductions or pay cuts the rest of us have taken and the students in the classroom are the last on the mind of those in charge when students should be first what with high salaries that champions website reports students first, entitlements last
Susan Smentek March 04, 2013 at 10:31 PM
I do hope you receive a response to your thoughtful letter. Here's my thought concerning your comment, "The transportation issue may affect many but it also DOES NOT affect many others. So why should the rest of us have to pay for the changes?" Do you really want to divide parents into us vs. them? The bus service areas are unfunded state and/or federal mandates. The buses will run, even if our kids walk or are driven to school. And we live across the Metra tracks from school, without an easily navigated cross walk. I hope that the parents can remain unified in demanding the quality education that our ever-increasing property taxes should be providing.


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