Seven candidates, including a teen, are vying for three open seats on the Elgin Area School District U-46 board of education.
Longtime board member Joyce Fountain decided not to run for re-election after almost 20 years of service and Bartlett resident Dale Spencer also did not file candidate paperwork, leaving new faces to fill the void.
South Elgin High School senior Andrew Giggey, of Streamwood, is the youngest person in the race. The 18-year-old said many of the current board members are too far removed from the classroom without experience about what does and doesn't work in education.
"I want to be able to give students an actual voice in the school board," Giggey said.
The seven-member board also has a student adviser position but Giggey said the turnover is too fast for students to get very involved. He plans to stay in the area after graduating from high school and work while taking community college courses. His ultimate goal is to have a career in electrical engineering. Veronica Noland and Carlos Chávez, both graduates of the Hispanic Parent Leadership Institute of U-46, also will run for the four-year seats.
Noland said communication issues have been her biggest frustration in her involvement with the district -- she is a member of the special education and finance subcommittees of the Citizens Advisory Council.
"There's no two-way communication right now between parents and the school board and I'd really like to work toward changing that," Noland said.
She and Chávez both live in Elgin, as does Gary Percy, who is running for the school board for a third time. Percy is a former vice chairman of the CAC and said U-46 is moving in the wrong direction with little regard for taxpayers in the district.
Bartlett resident Frank Napolitano decided against running for a second term as a village trustee to focus on a bid for the school board this election. In a note to supporters on his website, Napolitano said the board of education needs a conservative voice to support fiscal responsibility and monitor the curriculum.
Linda Campos-Moreira, of Elgin, is a recruitment coordinator at ECC. She is the final challenger against incumbent president Donna Smith, of Hanover Park, who was first elected in 2001 and is seeking re-election in April.
Fountain, of Elgin, will close out almost two decades on the board of education when her term ends in April. She is a sociology professor at ECC with two sons who graduated from Elgin High School.
Fountain said her decision not to run is giving others the opportunity to make their contributions to students and the community.
"My passion and commitment to young people and students has not waned," Fountain said. "I will just serve them in a different role."
Fountain ruled out any future election bids, saying her time on the board was an extension of community service rather than political participation.
A lottery to determine ballot order will be held Wednesday because Noland, Giggey and Percy filed simultaneously on the first day. The rest of the candidates will appear on the ballot in the order in which they turned in their paperwork for the April 9 election.