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Article updated: 3/18/2013 10:51 PM

School board candidates discuss Dist. 25's needs, future

By Melissa Silverberg

The five candidates for Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 school board will participate in an open forum Tuesday night to answer voters' questions, discuss why they are running and outline what they hope to accomplish if elected.

Three incumbents and two newcomers are running for four board seats in the April 9 consolidated municipal election.

Incumbents David Page, Denise Glasgow and Phil Crusius are facing challenges from newcomers Herb Ruterschmidt and Richard Olejniczak. Incumbent Kenneth Nielsen is not running for another term.

Page, a financial adviser who launched an unsuccessful campaign for the state Senate in November, is the current board president. He said he wants another term to see the district through the ongoing difficult economic times.

"I'm still very motivated and interested in helping the students of our district to get the best quality education possible, and in light of what's going on with the funding of education today, that seems like a more difficult task each year," said Page, who is seeking his third term on the school board.

Glasgow, a former teacher and administrator, also is running for a third term. She said her background in education gives her a different insight on the board.

Crusius said one of the most important issues for the next board will be selecting a new superintendent, as Sarah Jerome is planning to retire at the end of her contract in June 2014.

The candidates all listed communication, collaboration and transparency as important qualities they will look for in a new superintendent.

Ruterschmidt, a small-business owner, said he hopes to bring a fresh perspective and provide an outlet for the concerns he has been hearing from other parents in the community.

"People are kind of nervous about some issues, so rather than standing by I thought that I'd like to be part of the solution if I can," Ruterschmidt said.

Among the issues, he said, are the hiring of a new superintendent, the controversial Futures Education special education report and the cutting of the Chinese language program at the elementary level.

"We need a strong focus on the core, basic foundations of education," he said. "The extraneous programs are really nice but sometimes they are a luxury."

Olejniczak, a businessman and member of the Ivy Hill PTA, said his main campaign issue is teacher pensions. He is concerned with how the state is handling the issue and the implications it will have on the district's budget, teachers and property taxes.

While Ruterschmidt would like to cut extra programs, Olejniczak has said that he wants to see more second language programs starting at an earlier age -- an opinion similar to the results of a recent parent survey.

The candidate forum, presented by the League of Women Voters and the Arlington Heights Council of PTAs, begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Arlington Heights Village Hall, 33 S. Arlington Heights Road.

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