Candidates seeking school board seats in the April 9 DuPage County election will face issues ranging from budget deficits to overcrowded buildings to teacher contracts to curriculum questions.
As daunting as it seems, relatively large numbers of candidates have filed to pursue seats on several area school boards, including those serving the College of DuPage, Naperville Unit District 203, Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200, West Chicago Elementary District 33 and Addison Elementary District 4.
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Here's a quick look at some of the hottest races:
College of DuPage
Nine candidates have filed for two 6-year terms on the College of DuPage board of trustees -- the same board that this year concluded more than 15 months of contentious faculty contract negotiations and a lengthy battle with the village of Glen Ellyn about regulation of the college's extensive building program.
Incumbent board Chairman David Carlin and incumbent board member Joseph C. Wozniak, both of Naperville, are defending their seats against Ed Agustin, Dan Bailey, Frank Flores Jr., Katharine Hamilton, Mike Lanners, Judith Pokorny and Amanda Ward.
The two winners will round out a seven-member board governing the college's 273-acre main campus -- which remains incorporated in Glen Ellyn but is now under the regulatory control of DuPage County -- as well as its satellite locations in Addison, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Lisle, Naperville and Westmont.
Naperville Dist. 203
The list of candidates is even longer in Naperville Unit District 203, where 11 people want four 4-year terms, and only two of them are incumbents.
Sitting board members Jackie Romberg and Susan Crotty are seeking re-election against a field of nine challengers, while Dave Weeks and Jim Dennison are not defending their seats. Donna Wandke, Charles Cush, Derek Krauss, David Fish, Kristen W. Fitzgerald, Heather Rajamoney, Neil Samuels, Jay Fisher and Sabina Qadir are the challengers who have filed for seats up for grabs in the April election.
Those elected this spring will work with Superintendent Dan Bridges, who was promoted from assistant superintendent after the June 30 departure of former top administrator Mark Mitrovich. The board also will oversee implementation of a second phase of boundary changes meant to alleviate overcrowding at Mill Street and Beebe elementary schools and a plan to begin offering all-day kindergarten at seven elementary schools.
Wheaton Warrenville Dist. 200
Interest is also high in Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200, where nine candidates are seeking four available 4-year terms.
Three incumbents -- Ken Knicker, Barbara Intihar and Joann Coghill -- filed to seek re-election, but Andrew Johnson did not. Challenging Knicker, Intihar and Coghill for the four available seats are James Mathieson, Harold Lonks, Brad Paulsen, Janet "Jan" Shaw, Bruce C. Fogerty and Kyle Nenninger.
West Chicago Dist. 33
Six candidates filed to seek four 4-year terms on the West Chicago Elementary District 33 school board, even as the current board is embroiled in the 15th month of contract negotiations with the teachers union.
School board members Christine Scheck, Juliann Pearson, Brenda Vishanoff and Susan Stibal all filed to defend their seats, while Karina Villa and Antonio Villa Jr. -- a sister-and-brother team -- are running against them.
Negotiating sessions are scheduled for Jan. 3 and 4 as the school board and teachers union look to come to agreement on salaries and benefits, health insurance costs, class sizes and teacher workdays.
Another issue likely to affect board members elected in April is a financial one. The district is facing a projected deficit of more than $3 million because of declining property tax revenues and the state's financial troubles.
Addison Dist. 4
The resignation of one school board member who was elected to the Illinois state House has made a 2-year term available along with the four 4-year terms scheduled to be up for election in Addison Elementary District 4 this spring.
The seat vacated by Kathleen Willis, who was elected in November to represent the 77th state House District, has drawn three candidates: Jeremiah Lange, Samira Mendoza and current board member Jim Towns.
Towns and Lange also filed to seek one the 4-year spots on the board. They are competing against five other candidates, including incumbents John Daniels and Steve Nelms and challengers Naseer Khan and Alyssa Seider.