At a time when almost every Illinois school district is facing financial challenges -- many as a result of uncertainty concerning state funding -- Indian Prairie Unit District 204 continues to make strides in pursuing educational excellence while keeping spending in check.
Indeed, the third-largest district in the state, which covers portions of Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield and Bolingbrook, not only maintains a balanced budget but has reduced spending by roughly $34 million over the past four years -- all while providing a very strong education for its 28,500 students.
It's against that backdrop that voters will choose three school board members from a field of four candidates that features incumbents Lori Price, Justin Karubas and Mark Rising and newcomer Renata Sliva.
All three incumbents are endorsed. They have demonstrated fiscal responsibility during tough times while continuing to put the needs of students first.
Which is not to suggest the district doesn't face its share of challenges or that the school board is in lockstep on every issue. Karubas, for example, says he would support a referendum quest to fully air-condition all the district's schools. Rising says he would oppose such a plan.
Price says the district inevitably will have to seek taxpayer support for a referendum, but she would prefer a broader proposal that includes money for building maintenance and technology in addition to air conditioning.
That kind of debate is healthy, especially when the candidates are as thoughtful, levelheaded and well-spoken as these.
Price, who is seeking her second term, is a division buyer who says the district has built "great momentum" in austere times and needs board members with a strong understanding of the issues to keep moving in a positive direction. She has a command of the issues and knows how to communicate them.
Karubas, an attorney, joined the board in 2013 and has played key roles in its education foundation. Like the other incumbents, he knows the issues, has played a role in addressing them and is not afraid to ask questions or challenge the status quo.
Rising is a sales manager for a health care software company who has served on the board since 2011. He brings a strong financial background to the board and has contributed to its efforts to find efficiencies.
Combined, the three incumbents provide a strong core for the board and have earned, individually and as a group, another term.