The Geneva School District 304 Board of Education approved a $1.1 million bid to build of a turf field and formed a Finance Committee that will hold meetings open to the public—two long-discussed actions that might have been greeted with celebration or applause at other times in Geneva School Board history.
But drowning out any happy sound Monday night was an ongoing war of words between members of the Geneva TaxFACTS group and the Board of Education.
Sandy Ellis, 209 Peyton St., excoriated School Board member Matt Henry for comments she said he made at the end of a meeting two weeks ago. According to Ellis, Henry said "it is arrogant to move into a house you can't afford" and made reference to "folks who had overextended themselves."
"I am offended," she said. Ellis said it was past decisions by the School Board, not the private sector, that have made it more difficult for people to afford living in Geneva.
"This is what Mr. Henry didn’t say," she added. "Not one of you have publicly acknowledged that you as a board blew it."
Later in the meeting, board member Mary Stith took issue to references made by TaxFACTS leader Bob McQuillan and other speakers during the comments period Monday night. McQuillan cited what he called "a dark cloud" hanging over the process of approving the turf-field construction.
"I’m extremely offended when people suggest that," Stith said. "It’s not honest, and it’s not fact-based. I challenge anyone who thinks we are doing illegal activities to follow it through ... I wouldn’t want a dishonest board, either."
McQuillan noted that District 304 Superintendent Kent Mutchler thanked numerous people for their roles in bringing about the turf-field improvements, including staff members, members of the Friends of Burgess Field group and an anonymous donor who contributed $500,000 toward the project.
"I am not against the turf field," McQuillan said. "I am against the process. Everyone was thanked, except the group that’s going to pay more than 50 percent of the cost. I think we all know who that is—it’s the taxpayers."
Patch will have followup stories on the Burgess Field project and other School Board action later this week.