The Mokena School District 159 Board of Education unanimously approved an agreement granting field usage to the youth athletic organizations for the next two years at a meeting Wednesday evening.
Both teams are in need of a place to compete. The Burros youth football team, which struggled to find play space last season, was recently ousted from its practice field, a vacant lot that will soon be the site of a new Meijer grocery store.
“I’m asking for the support of the school board,” said Burros Vice President Dan LaValle.
The Blue Demons baseball team has had a contract to play on the Mokena Elementary fields for the past decade, but it expired last year.
The fields are located beside the school and to the west of it. During game season, the teams are responsible for the field’s maintenance and upkeep.
Representatives for both teams attended the meeting to voice the need for the field use agreement.
“It’s nice to see everybody working together again,” said Board Member Scott Peters.
Although the entire board supported the agreement, many board members were unhappy with the actions surrounding its arrangement.
Peters told the board that he felt it was inappropriate that the proposal was brought to the board as an action item, without any opportunity to discuss the agreement beforehand at a meeting where a vote was not scheduled to take place.
According to Peters, there was no informational report provided to the board and the agreement was organized by a committee of one, Board President Patrick Markham, the formation of which was not approved by the board.
“The way this came about was not right,” said Board Member Jeff Regan.
Markham said that no committee meetings were held during the course of the facilitation of the agreement and that the intent of the process was to match the expedient nature of the teams’ needs.
“If the term ‘committee’ was used inadvertently, I apologize,” said Markham.
Several board members expressed concern about the process of the agreement’s coordination and Peters said that he was unaware that there were talks of a deal until he read about it in the newspaper.
“I had problems with the procedural issues,” said Board Member Mike Ford.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board voiced support for hiring a Spanish teacher for the district.
Mokena Junior High School is currently the only feeder school for Lincoln-Way High School District 210 not to offer Spanish.
When a Spanish teacher is hired, students must apply to take the class, which pulls its curriculum directly from District 210. This allows students who take Spanish in junior high school to begin high school enrolled in Spanish II.
It is estimated that Mokena Junior High would have three sections of Spanish during the first year that the class is offered.
Tom Mullins, of the search firm B.W.P. & Associates, told the board Wednesday that 35 candidates are currently being considered for the position of D159 superintendent.
Mullins will present the final six candidates at the board’s next meeting, on Feb. 20.
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