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Naperville resident calls on two East Aurora School Board members not to run for president

Updated: May 18, 2013 6:22AM

AURORA — At the last meeting of the East Aurora School Board before two new members take their seat and the new board elects its leaders, a Naperville resident called on two sitting board members to remove themselves from consideration for president.

During public comments Monday night, Ralph Padron, whose wife is a retired East Aurora teacher, told Board President Annette Johnson, a business owner who was re-elected to the board last week by 44 votes, and Board Member Ray Hull, who heads the city of Aurora’s water and sewer department, to “excuse themselves from any consideration to become board president.” The board is slated to vote on new leaders May 6.

“I believe one thing that was very damaging and irreparable was the verbal exchange between Mr. Hull and Ms. Johnson,” Padron said, referring to insults traded by the two such as “slumlord” and “loser” in a board committee meeting on Dec. 6. “A strong united board of education is much needed at this time.”

Hull said he had apologized to Johnson for the incident and that he didn’t “have a desire to be the board president.” He added that it would be up to the new board to select its leaders.

“If I had to be the leader of this board I would do an excellent job despite what happened on Dec. 6,” Hull said. “And if Ms. Johnson is elected president she’ll do a better job if she is held accountable by the rest of the board.”

During her re-election campaign, Johnson was accused by opponents of playing too big a role in the day-to-day operations of the district. Hull added Monday night that he felt the board in many instances “has waited for Ms. Johnson’s leadership and when she didn’t say anything it meant don’t say anything.”

Johnson did not say Monday night whether she planned to throw her hat in the ring for president again, but last week after she was re-elected she told The Beacon-News that she “will be continuing on as the president” and that “we’re very committed to trying to keep the board more or less the same.”

More questions over policy

What seemed like a simple vote to approve the sale of scrap materials, a tractor, generator and other old supplies the district no longer needed turned confusing when Hull said that much of the property had already been sold by the manager of the Operations Department, Marty Feltes, in violation of district policy.

“When we found ourselves in controversy the last year every time it was for either not reading, not following or not understanding policy,” Hull said, ticking off problems with district credit cards and accounting procedures. “At some point we have to decide if our policy is just a grouping of suggestions. Are we going to continue to disregard what we’re supposed to do?”

Johnson said she hadn’t heard there was a problem before the board meeting and told Hull that he should have emailed the board ahead of time.

The board voted to put the sale of the property on hold until it could research the issue further.

Board Member Mary Anne Turza said the board will get together on May 15 to review all district policies. Johnson said last week that the district is working to put together a comprehensive procedural manual, expected to be completed by the end of the month, that will govern all record keeping and accounting. The district is also in the process of installing new business software that will “force procedures” Johnson said.

“We’re making a change, the records are getting cleaned up,” Johnson said. “Everyone just needs to have patience.”

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