2003-03-13 / Top Stories

Fidler Denies Disparaging Remarks About District 18 SB

By Damien Coachman

By Damien Coachman

Those who attended last week’s meet-ing of Community School District 18 thought the gathering would be brief and business-like. Instead, they were witness to a 45-minute discussion re-garding a city councilman’s alleged disparaging remarks about the board, remarks that were later vehemently de-nied.

School Board member Mark Fertig told the members of the board and other meeting attendees that City Council-man Lew Fidler, in whose district the board is located, said at his recent Town Hall meeting that "district 18 is dysfunctional" and that he had not been approached by anyone regarding new funding grants.

He said another school board member, Josefina Johnson, had stated she had tried to approach Fidler regarding grants but he was "not accessible" to her. Fertig also said Fidler — and his staff — "has not been accessible" to him, either and noted that they could "at least try" to talk to the board di-rectly.

Fertig said he tried to contact Fid-ler’s staff for information on a list of day camps for children and, in an in-terview, told the Courier he felt Fid-ler’s staff should be receptive to issues regarding children because the councilman is chairman of the Youth Com-mittee.

"I like to be as friendly with elected officials as I can," the school board member said, "but Fidler"s office is not receptive to smaller issues. I wouldn’t bother contacting them for anything else."

Councilman Fidler responded to al-legations in an exclusive interview, noting "absolutely no one" on the school board had approached him for funding.

"These allegations are a thousand percent false and laugh-out-loud funny," he said. "I’d like Mr. Fertig to provide some proof that he’s reached out to my office and hasn’t gotten a response." He said it is the role of the school board staff to contact him for funding.

"Other school districts, like District 19 and 22, for example, have contacted my office. In the case of District 18, I have to go out and seek them." Referring to Johnson, the councilman said he had only spoken to her once — at a graduation ceremony last June.

Fidler specified that he has funded several programs for District 18, in-cluding two music programs, new com-puters for P.S. 276 and P.S. 279 and a new computer lab and auditorium up-grade for P.S. 114.

In denying that his staff is inaccessible, he said, "If (our office) gets a letter and it hasn’t been answered in two weeks, heads will roll."

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