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updated: 12/21/2010 6:18 PM

Voters get ample choices in Lake Co. school races

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Voters in parts of Lake County will have a healthy selection of candidates when they go to the polls April 5 to determine school board races.

An abundance of candidates are at Grayslake Elementary District 46, Stevenson High School District 125, Woodland Elementary District 50 and Millburn Elementary District 24. Some of the newcomers who are running cite financial accountability as one reason for seeking the nonpaying post that comes with lots of homework and headaches.

School board candidates had until 5 p.m. Monday to file nominating petitions to get on the ballot.

Four political newcomers were attracted to the process at Grayslake District 46, joining incumbents Mary Garcia and Susan Facklam on the ballot.

Marchell Norris said a desire for financial accountability, increased transparency and sustainability with regard to long-term decisions are part of why she's making her first run for elected public office at District 46.

"I would challenge us to say, 'What is necessary (financially) for a good education?' and build a budget from that," Norris said Tuesday.

Shannon Smigielski, Kip Evans and Thomas Bean also will be on the ballot for a board post at District 46. Smigielski launched an online group for parents in 2009 following job cuts and stories about what the district was spending on consulting services and warm-weather winter conventions from South Carolina-based Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Inc.

At Gurnee-based Woodland District 50, newcomers Alex Attiah, Chris Schrantz, Vincent Juarez and Keith DeVore will be on the ballot with incumbents Mark Vondracek and Terry Hall. Those six candidates will jockey for three open four-year seats.

Fiscal responsibility is a concern for Attiah. "Another issue is the extensive teacher cuts and as a result, compromising on education for the kids," he added.

Lincolnshire-based Stevenson District 125 will have seven candidates seeking four open seats with four-year terms. Incumbents Merv Roberts, Terry Moons and Bruce Lubin will be joined on the ballot by Kim Brady, Charles Cardella, Kathy Powell and David Weisberg.

Cardella, who is teaming with Brady and Powell in the election, said he is concerned with Stevenson running surpluses for the past few years and taking in more in taxes than necessary with fewer teachers and students enrolled than in earlier years.

"Many families are hanging on by their finger nails, and in District 125, the major contributor to all of our tax bills is Stevenson High School," he said. "If that's the case, we think it's prudent that we continue to get excellent value for our spending."

Seven candidates will compete for three open four-year seats on the Millburn District 24 board, while incumbent Shawn Lahr is alone seeking a two-year unexpired term. Running for the four-year seats are incumbent Lisa Scanio, along with Christine Jones, Keith Landy, Scott Miller, Julie Murray, Scott Zellmann and Jay Kao.

Millburn voters overwhelmingly rejected a tax-hike referendum in November that would have raised the annual property tax on a $300,000 home by $732. Officials at Millburn, which includes Lindenhurst and Wadsworth in its coverage area, have said $1.1 million in cuts would be needed without the extra cash.

Anyone expecting a hot race at Gavin Elementary District 37 in Ingleside will be disappointed because only political newcomer Dawn Cacioppo turned in the required petitions to be on the ballot for one of three open seats.

Under state law, Gavin will need to make two board appointees to the four-year positions after the April 5 election.

Daily Herald staff writers Melissa Silverberg and Lee Filas contributed to this report.