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posted: 1/16/2014 5:28 PM

What's next - if anything - for Barrington 220 advisory council?

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Following the decision to change the academic calendar for Barrington School District 220 schools, the question facing the Input 220 Advisory Council -- a special panel of community members created to examine the calendar issue -- is what topic, if any, is next.

District 220 school board members meeting this week offered different takes on the council's future.

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Richard Burkhart said continuing Input 220 could lead to a "snowball effect" that would influence the board's decisions to the district's detriment.

"We are a board of seven members, not a board of seven plus 35 members," he said.

Burkhart said that the committee was flawed because several members became fed up with the process early on and "voted with their feet" by leaving. He said by not reaching out to the people who left and involving them in the final decision, the district had "stacked the committee" to get the results they wanted.

"I don't think it was a fair process," he added.

Board President Brian Battle disagreed, pointing out that the advisory council's rules stipulate that the board has little input in who serves on the council. Of the 35 voting members, just eight were appointed by the board.

Board member Sandra Ficke-Bradford said while she agrees the board doesn't need a large supplemental committee to make decisions, the advisory council is about more than that.

"It's not so much that this board of seven people can't make the decision on their own, it's about the community involvement." Ficke-Bradford said.

The school board issued a survey to all members of the advisory council, including members who left during the year, to get feedback on the process as a whole.

Two of the possible future topics for an advisory council include the creation of a program that would issue laptop computers to all students, and implementation of a full-day kindergarten program.

Superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard said those topics were fundamentally different from the calendar change because they would bear a significant cost.

"I use the analogy if I was going to bring the family together and talk about going on vacation to Disney World," Leonard said. "I really don't want to have that conversation until I'm pretty confident I can see a path to affording that vacation."

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