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updated: 3/4/2013 10:50 PM

Wauconda Unit Dist. 118 candidates share their innovative ideas

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  • Jonathan Feryance

    Jonathan Feryance

  • Deby Dato

    Deby Dato

  • Thomas A. Weber Sr.

    Thomas A. Weber Sr.

  • Carey McHugh

    Carey McHugh

  • David Patterson

    David Patterson


Corporate sponsorships, an expanded foreign language program and TV blackouts are among the unique ideas the candidates for seats on the Wauconda Unit District 118 school board said they'd like to pursue.

Five people are running for four seats on the school board.

Jonathan Feryance, Deby Dato, Thomas A. Weber Sr. and Carey McHugh are incumbents. David A. Patterson is a newcomer.

In recent interviews with the Daily Herald, each of the candidates was asked to promote one idea no one else in the district is discussing.

Weber said he'd like to find other sources of funding for the district's schools. A good start, he said, could be working more closely with state lawmakers to find revenue.

He also suggested applying for more grants and seeking private donations, and he's open to advertising and corporate sponsorship of construction projects or school facilities, such as athletic fields.

"I would like to see that," he said. "I've been a proponent of trying to get more from our local community and our local merchants, and we're doing that with our football program."

McHugh would love to see the district's foreign language program expand.

Now, only Spanish and French are available for Wauconda High School students. Foreign languages aren't offered at the elementary or middle schools, and she'd like that to change.

"Any expert says, the earlier you start these kids on learning a second language, the better," McHugh said. "There is just no money in the budget."

Feryance's big idea focused on the home more than the classroom. He'd like the district to launch a program that encourages kids to turn off the TV and other electronics at home. He's concerned the growth of electronic media is distracting students from schoolwork and affecting them at school.

"During the week, just have it off," Feryance said.

He favors a program that involves the parents and incentivizes a media blackout with prizes or other rewards for participants.

Dato wants to expand the district's early education program, called W.E.E. Kids. Aimed at 3- to 5-year-olds, it targets at-risk kids and focuses on speech and language, motor skills, social and emotional skills and other concepts.

But like with so many innovative school programs, funding is a perennial concern, Dato said.

"It's such a wonderful program," she said. "Unfortunately, we never know from year to year if that program is going to exist."

Dato would like to see district leaders get outside funding to keep the program going and to expand it so more children can participate.

Patterson wants district leaders to develop a new comprehensive safety and security plan, as a response to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. All systems need to be improved, he said.

"I think there's got to be a comprehensive plan throughout the district about that, about what we are going to do about school safety," Patterson said.

He gave no specific suggestions.

• Daily Herald staff writer Paul Valade contributed to this report.

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