The philosophical divide between candidates running for the Palatine Township Elementary District 15 school board is just as prevalent as it was four years ago.
The amount of cash being spent, however, is an entirely different story.
Incumbents Gerald Chapman and James Ekeberg, whose 2007 joint political committee spent more than $17,000 on a campaign with current board member Rich Bokor, both chose not to file public campaign disclosures ahead of this year's election.
The decision means they must spend less than $3,000 -- the threshold over which candidates must disclose itemized contributions and expenditures to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
It's a big change from four years ago, when the political committee of the District 15 teachers union spent more than $25,000 on behalf of the Friends of Bokor Chapman Ekeberg committee.
"We learned our lesson, I guess," Ekeberg said. "Everybody makes such a negative thing of (accepting money from employee groups). Since that's offensive to some people, we stopped doing it."
When asked at a District 15 candidates forum last week, Ekberg agreed it would be a conflict of interest to accept money from employee groups given the board approves their contracts.
Chapman said Wednesday he doesn't know if it's a conflict of interest, but the perception is what counts.
"Jim and I agreed we wouldn't accept any money because it might have the appearance of a conflict of interest," Chapman said. "But in my judgment, wherever the money comes from, it won't influence me. I'm going to make the best decision I can in the best interest of the kids and community."
Chapman said they can run a cheaper campaign this year because they now have name recognition and a track record of service.
Candidate Dave Seiffert, who was appointed to the board in January and is running on a slate with Chapman and Ekeberg, is also self-funding his campaign. He said accepting contributions from employee groups is a conflict.
The 1-3-5 slate of candidates -- Scott Herr, Gerard Iannuzzelli and Manjula Sriram -- set up a joint political committee in the event they raise more than $3,000. Quarterly campaign finance reports aren't due until April 15, but none have received a contribution of more than $500, according to their most recent filing.
The challengers, whose slate is named after the candidates' positions on the April 5 ballot, have been adamant that they would never accept contributions from employee groups -- monetary, in-kind or otherwise.
District voters will elect three candidates to 4-year terms on the board in next month's election.