U-46 board newcomers will challenge spending, communication
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Bartlett Trustee Frank Napolitano decided against running for re-election to the post he accepted in 2009 in favor of a bid for the Elgin Area School District U-46 school board.
Voters elected him to the new role Tuesday night, along with Veronica Noland and incumbent board president Donna Smith.
Napolitano labels himself a conservative with an eye toward fiscal responsibility and said shifting gears to education is giving him oversight of a far larger budget. Whereas the village of Bartlett handles about $50 million per year, U-46 controls almost 10 times that amount.
Napolitano hopes to be the conservative voice for a board of education on which he finds such a perspective lacking.
"The school district currently is focusing on things other than the primary responsibility of the school district, which is to educate students," Napolitano said. "The social justice and social equity projects they do take away from the primary focus, which is to improve results."
The board's second newcomer, Noland, does not identify herself as a conservative but she certainly will not be joining the board to maintain any sort of status quo. Noland spent much of the campaign criticizing the district's track record on communication, which she says is key for everything the district does.
"As a district, I don't think we communicate well enough to the whole community at large and even to employees," Noland said, highlighting the recent controversy over an altered 2013-14 school calendar that caught teachers and parents by surprise.
While Napolitano plans to spend his time on the board questioning spending and trying to urge fellow board members to think differently about their decisions, Noland will press a focus on communication every step of the way.
She currently serves as vice president of the Channing Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization and on the special education and finance committees of the U-46 Citizens Advisory Council. She is also a graduate of the U-46 Hispanic Parent Leadership Institute.
Smith, meanwhile, is looking forward to another term. She was first elected in 2001 after a campaign based on collaboration among administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and the board. Her focus over the past decade has been on students and she expects that to continue through another term.
New board members will be sworn in May 6. They will vote among themselves to identify a board president, vice president and secretary pro-tem for the next term.
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