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posted: 3/21/2017 1:00 AM

Endorsements: Cush, Fitzgerald, Leong, Wandke, Gericke for Naperville Unit District 203 school board

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

The Naperville Unit District 203 school board will have a new look after the April 4 election, when voters select four candidates to fill four-year seats on the board and a fifth candidate to fill a two-year vacancy triggered by the resignation last year of longtime member Suzyn Price.

This is a well-run and high-achieving district, but the board is not without its challenges. Perhaps prime among them -- as reflected by Price's decision to step down -- has been the board's struggles to communicate and work together. The newly formed board is going to have to find a way to set aside some egos and to welcome free and open debate.

The race for the four-year seats features incumbents Kristin Fitzgerald, Charles Cush and Donna Wandke and newcomers Shirley DeCorte and Paul Leong.

Cush is a heathcare marketing executive who was appointed to fill Price's seat last summer. He already has a firm and realistic grip on the issues and is a thoughtful board member. Fitzgerald is a policy and advocacy consultant and it shows in her work with the board, where she is an effective policy adviser. Wandke is a junior high ministry leader with a long-held interest in education who has been a strong board member. Cush, Fitzgerald and Wandke are endorsed.

Of the two newcomers pursuing the fourth four-year seat, Leong shines as a financial analyst who can play an important role in the district's finances. But he also bring a strong passion for education and will work hard to bolster the district's academics. Leong is endorsed.

The contest for the two-year seat pits former city councilman Robert Fieseler against substitute teacher Kristine Gericke. Fieseler is a patent attorney, and we like his willingness to ask tough questions. However, Gericke has a long background of volunteer work in the district. Gericke has a better understanding of the educational issues facing the district and, given the board's difficulty in getting on the same page, this may be a better time for someone of her background. Gericke is endorsed.

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