Thumbs-up: To Fox River Grove School District 3 for announcing the details of its new teacher contract well before the contract is set to be voted on by the district’s board April 15. The district has not had automatic step increases for teachers since 2010, when the salary schedule was eliminated. The new contract will give licensed staff members a 3% increase to teachers’ base salaries. This is very similar to the district’s last contract, which involved a 3% increase in 2016-17, then 2.5% with a 0.5% stipend the next two years. We still believe that the full contract for administrators and teachers should be posted for the public before it’s agreed upon, but given the full details of the coming contract more than 10 days before the board votes on the matter is a great step in the right direction for transparency.
Thumbs-down: To less than 10% of voters taking part in Tuesday’s local consolidated elections. The 9.69% McHenry County turnout, which could rise slightly as late-arriving mail-in ballots are counted, is down from the 15% who showed up for local elections in 2017. Less than 11% cast ballots in 2015 in McHenry County. There are plenty of factors that contribute to low voter turnout, from lack of contested races to lack of interest or understanding of local issues. But it is local officeholders whose decisions are crucial in how much we pay in property taxes and how those funds are spent. Casting a vote and making your voice heard on a local level is the best way to create change.
Thumbs-down: To false hope of finding a missing child. What seemed like it could be a story bordering on miraculous – that a boy who had been missing since 2011 had been found near Louisville, Kentucky – turned out to be a hoax this week. Timmothy Pitzen, who lived in Aurora, has been missing since 2011, when his mother took him out of kindergarten and later took her own life in a Rockford hotel room. She left behind a note saying the boy was safe with friends and “you will never find him.” DNA testing by the FBI quickly determined that the man who claimed to be Pitzen was not. He turned out to be a 23-year-old with a troubled past named Brian Rini, originally from suburban Cleveland. Rini has since been charged for making false statements. We’re sorry to see hopes raised among people who desperately yearn for the return of a missing loved one, but if there is a bright side, it’s that the hoax has brought renewed attention to a mystery that might one day be solved.
Thumbs-up: To Gary Rosenberg, owner of Crystal Lake Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, and other donors who paid off the remaining balance of the auto loan on Becki Keltner’s van. Becki’s husband, McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Keltner, was killed March 7 in Rockford while serving a warrant as part of the U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Task Force. Rosenberg wanted to see how he could help the family after the tragedy. Now a car payment is one less thing the family will have to worry about.