Listen up – New D218 super plans on lending an ear to concerns

  • Written by Dermot Connolly


Having presided over his first Community School District meeting 218 on Monday, Ty Harting,  the new superintendent, said he is looking forward to the school year starting.

For now, he may do more listening than talking.

“We’ve been doing some administrative hiring,’ he said if his first few weeks on the job, which started July 1. “I plan on going on a listening tour to find out what people want and need.”

He said the listening tour will initially mean visiting all the school buildings in the district to meet and consult with staff about what their wants and needs are. After the school year begins, he said, discussions will be held with community residents to discuss various issues as well.

Harting, the former assistant superintendent of human resources for the district, was hired in March to replace John Byrne, who had been superintendent for 10 years.

“Just like the meeting, the last couple of weeks have been have gone very well,” said Harting following the meeting at the Delta Learning Center, 3940 W. Midlothian Turnpike in Robbins.

Harting has been employed in the district since 1989.

“It has been an exciting time,’’ he said. “I’m looking forward to the school year getting started and meeting everyone now.”

Harting, an Eisenhower High School graduate who grew up in Blue Island and now lives in Palos Heights, spent most of his life within the boundaries of SD 218. His three daughters also graduated from district schools. “I was only away for five years, when I got my first job in education in Champaign,” he said.

His academic qualifications include a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; a master’s degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and another master’s of education in school administration and evaluation research, also from UIC. His doctorate of education in educational leadership is from Lewis University. He also has certificate of advanced study with a superintendent endorsement from Lewis University.

The new superintendent began his tenure at SD 218 in 1989 at Richards High School in Oak Lawn, first as a teacher, coach and then dean of students. He went on to become assistant principal at Eisenhower, and principal at Shepard High School in Palos Heights before becoming assistant superintendent.

One issue, which may be the topic of future discussions, is the plan by Alsip officials to make some adjustments to a village TIF district that was addressed at Monday’s meeting.

Kent Oliven, the Alsip finance director, discussed that village’s plans to make adjustments to the tax-increment financing zone  located on the west side of Cicero Avenue and north of the Interstate 294 ramp.  

Oliven said that the TIF created several years ago is made up of seven parcels of land, and the village plans to take the two pieces closest to the expressway and turn them into a separate TIF district.

He explained that the village is negotiating with a developer to build a 90-room mid- to higher-level hotel with a banquet facilities on the site. By splitting the TIF into two parts, and resetting the clock, developers would have the full 23-year lifespan of the TIF to partake of the tax benefits. Tax levies within TIF districts are set at a certain level, and any taxes generated above that level for the 23-year life of the TIF can be reinvested in it rather than being shared with schools and other taxing bodies.

Oliven said the site is difficult to access due to the close proximity to the toll-road, but would be ideal for a hotel due to easy access for motorists.

This re-designation would mean a loss of annual revenue for the Oak Lawn-based school district amounting to a few hundred thousand dollars, but the five board members present voted to give their approval because of future benefits from taxes generated by the hotel complex. Member Johnnie Holmes was not present.

“I’m generally in favor of TIFs, and it would be good for the district in the long-run,” said Vice President Randy Heuser.

Harting noted that although village officials could make the changes without the approval of the school districts, “they ask for our consent as a courtesy.”

“It makes for a friendlier working environment if all the taxing bodies are on board,” he said.