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Article updated: 1/4/2013 10:21 AM

River Trails District 26 board losing 4 board members

By Matt Arado

The next school board election is still three months away, but one thing already is certain in River Trails Elementary District 26: The board will soon look a whole lot different.

The terms of four board members -- Jeffrey Bradley, Steven O'Mara, Donna Nasser and board President Becky Reese -- come to an end this spring, and not one is running for re-election.

"I don't think I've ever seen that many people leave at once in my time here," said veteran board member Donna Johnson, whose current stint on the board began in 2003. "It can be nice to have new ideas, to get a new way of looking at things. But you also hate to lose all that experience."

Bradley is finishing his second full term on the seven-member board. He was appointed to fill a vacancy before being elected for the first time, so he's put in nearly 10 years as a board member in the Mount Prospect-based district.

He said he's stepping down because of the "negativity" that surrounds working on a school board.

"I enjoy being involved, and I hope to find other avenues for volunteering," he said. "But I guess I'm looking for something where the effort is appreciated a little more."

Bradley said he feels community members sometimes criticize the district too quickly and in a manner that's too personal. He cited the contentious debate that took place several years ago over a proposal to change the district's two elementary schools into "grade-level centers." The proposal, which Bradley supported, eventually was rejected.

"After a while, the negativity can wear you down," he said.

On the plus side, the district made significant steps in the area of technology while he was on the board, Bradley said, pointing to the purchase of whiteboards for classroom use as one example.

"We made a lot of progress in that area, which I think will be very good for the district," he said.

Reese, O'Mara and Nasser could not be reached for comment.

Five people are running for the four school board seats available in the April 9 election. The candidates are Julia Nemcek, Dan Miller, Kathleen Beck, Rathna Koka and Scott Breiler.

Johnson said that while there's always a learning curve when new members arrive on the board, the three existing members and an administrative team that works well together should keep the transition smooth.

The small district operates two elementary schools and one middle school.

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