Unlike four years ago, when the Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 election was uncontested, the field is more crowded this time around.
Five candidates, including the three elected in the 2009 election, will be on the ballot April 9 vying for three open seats.
The longest-serving candidate is board member Anna Klimkowicz, a family case manager at a transitional living program who's seeking her fifth term. The Schaumburg resident said her priorities are to maintain the district's fiscal responsibility and enhance social preparedness through the state's Social Emotional Learning Standards and mental health support. She also hopes to address bullying.
"I believe that I bring a unique perspective to the board for I work with individuals seeking economic assistance due to (the) loss of job, foreclosure, homelessness or just the need to put food on their table," Klimkowicz said.
She's joined by another familiar candidate in current board President Robert LeFevre, elected to the post in 2005 after unsuccessful attempts the two previous races. He cited his financial background as a CPA as a key asset.
LeFevre, of Palatine, said his goals are to continue both stable and sustainable quality education and financial accountability. He doesn't believe District 211 is facing any huge challenges at the moment, but is keeping an eye on the state's pension crisis.
"I'm not concerned about 211 because we're well prepared," LeFevre said. "But I do wish they'd get on with it and leave us alone so we can get back to focusing on providing a great education."
Incumbent Edward Yung, who served on the Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board for eight years, is seeking a second term in District 211. The architect from Inverness said his top priorities are to maintain high standards and quality education while ensuring money is properly spent.
He believes one of the biggest challenges District 211 faces is potential lost revenue through businesses appealing their property taxes.
"If you have to give back part of two or three years of property taxes, that affects our budget," Yung said. "We have to make sure we have all our bases covered."
The two challengers seeking 4-year terms include a newcomer and someone more familiar with the process.
In 2011, Roman Golash, a microbiologist and retired U.S. Army colonel, finished last among seven candidates in the District 211 board race. The Palatine man said he's running again primarily due to the financial strain residents face.
He said the state's pension crisis, coupled with upcoming negotiations with teachers and other employee unions, will have a major impact.
"Citizens are saying we're not getting our money's worth and that we have to live within our means," Golash said. "We pay a pretty hefty amount, and yet we're not at the top in the state (performance-wise) and nowhere near the top in the country."
Newcomer Mike Scharringhausen, a general manager at a wholesale fastener distribution company, said running is the next logical step in his extensive community involvement. He's a PTA president and board member of the local Rotary Club, Kenneth Young Center and Schaumburg Athletic Association.
Scharringhausen believes District 211 is a strong district with great leadership.
"There's not a one glaring issue over another, but I believe in a culture of continuous improvement," he said. "I look forward to the opportunity to improve the communication between the district and its stakeholders."