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updated: 3/13/2013 11:50 AM

Antioch Elementary District 34 candidates share unique ideas

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Some of the candidates for seats on the Antioch Elementary District 34 board shared unique ideas for the schools during recent endorsement interviews with the Daily Herald.

A healthier lunch menu, an emphasis on community service and involvement and curriculum supplements were among the suggestions.

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Eight candidates are running for four seats on the board.

Incumbents Tamara Neumann and Diane McMahon were interviewed in a face-to-face meeting at the Daily Herald's Libertyville office. Newcomer Lori Linck participated in that session by telephone.

Newcomers Mary Kay McNeill and Mary Beth Hulting were interviewed separately by telephone.

Newcomers Edward Walczak and Roy Bolin, and incumbent Kristine Bolin opted not to participate in the endorsement interviews.

Among other questions, the participating candidates were asked to name one idea no one else in the district is discussing.

Neumann said she would like to see healthier lunch options offered at the district's campuses, both for students who get free or reduced-price meals and those who buy full-price lunches.

"I know how difficult it is to change that," she said. "It's not a quick fix."

The obstacle isn't necessarily financial. Some of the schools don't have enough space for expanded kitchens or even offer salad bars, Neumann said.

McMahon would like students to be encouraged to get involved in community service. Children need to learn the importance of good citizenship and respect, she said.

A volunteer program could be one way to go. Programs that have students interact more with senior citizens also would be good, McMahon said.

Some programs bring seniors to the schools, she said, "but sometimes we have to take the students to them."

Linck is particularly concerned about school curriculum, and she thinks the schools should encourage students and parents to take advantage of free educational supplements, especially during summer break.

Computerized activities could help students boost test scores and lessen the loss of knowledge that occurs during the summer months.

"At a minimum, they'd be fresh and ready to come back in the fall," Linck said.

McNeill wants the district to provide written curriculum plans for reading and language arts. Right now, she said, there is no established curriculum in those subjects, and it's up to teachers to put together plans.

Instead, district officials should get teachers and administrators together to discuss the needs, resources available and needed resources and develop academic goals.

Hulting said she thinks the district should offer more service learning programs, which would be focused on issues in the school, community or world.

Students should know the real-world applications for their classroom learning, she said.

She suggested bringing community members to the schools to work with students.

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