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updated: 4/9/2013 11:39 PM

Indian Prairie voters send familiar names to school board

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  • Benjamin White

    Benjamin White

  • Michael Raczak

    Michael Raczak

  • Cathy Piehl

    Cathy Piehl

  • Justin Karubas

    Justin Karubas


Familiar names carried the day in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 as incumbents Cathy Piehl and Benjamin White kept their seats while retired principal Michael Raczak and Smart Moms co-founder Maria Curry also were elected Tuesday to four-year terms.

Justin Karubas, a 39-year-old attorney who raises funds for the Indian Prairie Educational Foundation, ran unopposed for an unexpired two-year term.

With all 84 precincts in DuPage and Will counties reporting, unofficial results showed Piehl, the board's vice president, with 5,319 votes.

White, who was appointed to the board in October after Gov. Pat Quinn elevated former board President Curt Bradshaw to the State Board of Education, received 4,821 votes.

The 60-year-old Raczak, a trailblazer in special education who spent 14 years as principal at Hill Middle School then five years as principal at May Watts Elementary, claimed 5,122 votes.

Curry, 53, who holds a Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from the University of North Carolina and an MBA from the University of Chicago, picked up 3,758 votes. Curry co-founded the Smart Moms program in 2010 at McCarty Elementary. The group initiated a summer reading and math program for students.

Krishna Bansal received 3,405 votes, Sotiria "Sammy" Kapsis had 1,871 and Vasavi Chakka finished with 1,806. Jazmin Santillan, who dropped out of the race yet remained on the ballot, wound up with 1,158.

There was such a collegial tone to the race, all of the candidates gathered Tuesday night at the Ashbury subdivision clubhouse in south Naperville to await the results.

"It was a wonderful group of candidates," Raczak said. "Throughout the campaign, we maintained communication. The candidates were there for the community and the children. The community was not going to lose no matter who won the race."

Raczak cited the implementation of Common Core standards as one of the reasons for his candidacy.

"Education is really changing," he said. "The education our kids receive will be so much different than what we as adults received. We're going to require more from our kids. Parents in the community have to be partners in this."

The newly constituted board won't have to focus immediately on a new contract with the district's teachers. The board approved a one-year contract extension Monday night that covers the 2014-15 school year.

Indian Prairie Unit District 204 serves parts of Aurora, Bolingbrook, Naperville and Plainfield.

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