Inductees to the JHS Crimson Sports Hall of Fame will now have to be approved by the Board of Education before they are fully enshrined.
The District 117 Board met in special session Wednesday night and after discussion, voted unanimously to establish a policy for the Hall of Fame Committee that among other things, would require the committee’s selections to have final approval by the board.
The JHS Crimson Sports Hall of Fame Committee is a non-profit organization comprised of 12 members, many of which are existing members of the sports hall of fame. The committee elects new members to the hall every three years.
Sports Hall of Fame Committee Treasurer Bob Byers says he and the committee members are not in favor of the Board of Education’s new oversight. “We’re disappointed that they decided they want to take over our organization. We’ve had some people on this organization for over forty years. Two of our committee members are actual first-year members. We’ve never done anything to try and embarrass the school district. We’ve never done anything but be supportive of the school district and its athletic programs.”
Byers said following the vote that it is his belief many on the committee will not continue on. District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek says he has high praise for the work of the Committee, and that the policy is less about taking over control of who is selected, and more to do with making sure there is equal representation of the whole community.
“Well, first I want to thank the tremendous work and effort done by the Hall of Fame Committee over the multiple years that they’ve been creating the wonderful hall of fame that we have. But, I have a belief that anything that is establishing the values of a school district, is actually related to the values of an entire community.
And the individuals who should be establishing those values for the entire community should be the community’s duly elected representatives which is the school board. And in several areas, not just the hall of fame, this school board had been removed from several areas that were representative of community values.”
In developing the new policy, Ptacek says they took the existing by-laws of the committee and expanded them to include a minimum and a maximum number of committee members that would include at least one but no more than two members from the Board of Education, as well as varying numbers of existing members of the Hall of Fame and community members.
Byers says he and members of the committee have had concerns about the board being more involved with the process. “When they wanted to put two people on our board, does that make us subject to the Illinois Open Meetings Act? And we weren’t willing to do that. We also weren’t willing to have somebody rammed down our throat as a non-profit corporation licensed by the state. We’d have to put somebody on the board that maybe we didn’t want.
We’ve always tried to find somebody to represent different years. We have guys on our board who are from 90 down to their 30s, and we try to represent all sports.”
Ptacek says approving the committee’s recommendations would be no different than the required board approval of the hiring of new teachers each year and that the point was not to micromanage the committee but to ensure its actions receive the same official approval of the board.
“Bringing this to the board was very consistent in saying that if this is going to exist as a statement of excellence for our past athletes and encouraging our current athletes and establishing the values of who gets in the hall and what it takes to get in the hall, that should be approved, driven by the school board and the school board needs to have involvement.
Now, we’re hoping that many members of the hall who’ve given years of service will help continue with their years of service because there shouldn’t be much that changes. But this is just consistent with the belief that the board represents the entire community, not individuals and so the board should have say.”
The JHS Crimson Sports Hall of Fame Committee is scheduled to meet for selection of new candidates this fall. The last class was inducted in 2018 with six new members.