Board member enters, admin exits

Hinsdale's Heather Kartsounes was appointed to the Hinsdale High School District 86 Board Dec. 21, filling the vacancy left when Kay Gallo abruptly stepped down Oct. 26.

The announcement came, however, after the board accepted the sudden resignation of Interim Superintendent Linda Yonke. Yonke and co-Interim Superintendent Ray Lechner were both hired in July to serve 120 days as caretaker administrators for $1,300 a day after the board and former Superintendent Tammy Prentiss reached agreement on her resignation last spring.

In her farewell remarks, Yonke praised the faculty, staff and board.

"I want to thank the board for letting me work with you these past five months," she said. "I want to thank the administrative team, who are outstanding. I've learned from you and appreciated your hard work and dedication to this district."

Yonke also expressed gratitude for residents' engagement.

"Your input is important, and I thank you for that," she added.

Several board members expressed their appreciation for Yonke's leadership, including Jeff Waters. But Waters also cautioned against people advancing an "overblown narrative" of friction between Yonke and the board.

"I just encourage the community, perhaps, to turn that baseball hat of pessimism and skepticism around and understand that people are working hard ... to mitigate the overinflated drama that's created by community members simply for the sake of playing keyboard warrior," he said.

Yonke did not specify the reason for her resignation.

Lechner will remain on through the school year as the board prepares to hire the next full-time superintendent. The board had originally planned to conclude its search process with an announcement of its next superintendent that night. Board President Catherine Greenspon, however, said the contract with the chosen candidate is still being finalized and it will be on the Jan. 11 meeting agenda.

Kartsounes will occupy the seat until the next consolidated election in April 2025. The person elected then will serve out the remainder of Gallo's term through April 2027.

An attorney, Kartsounes has worked as the senior associate general counsel at Rush University Medical Center since 2014. The mother of three has lived in both the Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South attendance areas, and she thanked the board for trusting her with the position.

"As a proud District 86 community member for more than a decade, I consider it a privilege to serve on this board and have the opportunity to contribute to our district's proud tradition of excellence," she said in statement. "I look forward to working collaboratively with my fellow board members as we continue to move the district in a positive direction that supports the overall success of the students, staff, schools and community we serve."

Gallo was the second board member to depart this year following the resignation of Debbie Levinthal after the Sept. 18 meeting. Abed Rahman was selected to replace her. Greenspon thanked Gallo for her service and congratulated Kartsounes on her appointment.

"Heather's valuable perspectives, professional expertise and passionate commitment to District 86 will be significant assets that will contribute to our collective success as a board," Greenspon stated. "We are excited to welcome her to our team and look forward to working with each other and the community as a whole to support the continued growth of our students and schools."

The district reported that 22 people had applied for the board opening.

"Once again, our community members demonstrated their willingness to generously volunteer their time to serve on the board," Greenspon said. "I am proud to be part of a community that deeply values and champions public education."

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean