Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 11, 2013

New North Clay school board member hopes to move past controversy

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

LOUISVILLE — A new member will be joining North Clay School Board at its next meeting Thursday, and she said it’s time the district moves forward after recent controversies.

Jenny McKinney, a former Larkinsburg Township board member and current Iola Village Board treasurer, has been appointed to fill the empty seat on the school board. The seat was vacated in September after former school board member Darrel McKnelly resigned following the board’s decision to overturn a one-year athletic suspension for several athletes accused of underage drinking. McKnelly and one other board member dissented in the decision.

While McKinney acknowledges the board’s decision, as well as the public outcry following it, she said now is the time to begin to move forward in supporting the district.

“At this point, whether you agree or disagree with the decision the board has made, there has been some fallout,” she said. “Our administration is facing some pretty tough tasks because their authority has been undermined. The number one thing is I think we have to back our administration. We have to show that we trust them and their decisions so they can deal with this vote of no confidence.”

McKinney said she was inspired to apply for the vacated seat after having been interested in working on a school board for several years.

“I have five kids in the system, and I thought about needing to do it,” she said. “The seat opened up, and I thought, ‘well, I have to do this.’ It was kind of put up or shut up.”

North Clay Superintendent Monty Aldrich said there was not much competition for the position.

“She was the only one,” he said. “There were some names mentioned, but we didn’t really have any official applicants.”

McKinney said she intends to look for additional grant opportunities to improve technology and provide students with more opportunities after graduation.

“I’m just interested about alternative ways, because the state’s not coming through,” she said. “I give hats off to our administration and school boards in the past because there are a lot of schools our size in much worse state. They did a great job to put us in a position where we can make choices. I don’t want to see all of those good choices be wasted in the wake of some of those politically charged decisions.”

McKinney said recent events and the community’s reaction to them should inspire people to action rather than gossip, and people should be willing to make their voices heard.

“My word would be, don’t just talk about your friend and neighbors and burn up the Facebook pages,” she said. “Make a stand. If you believe passionately that something is wrong, you have got to take a stand. You can’t just ignore it and hope it gets better.”

Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.