Woodland Elementary District 50, a Gurnee-based school system serving 5,700 students in a 33-square-mile area that takes in parts of 10 towns, is not without its challenges or political intrigue. In just the latest example recently, school board President Chris Schrantz came out of a closed-door meeting to announce the board will go to the Lake County state's attorney and Illinois attorney general with an as-yet unspecified ethics complaint.
This is a school board with a lot on its plate -- from the obligations to respond to the educational needs of a growing low-income population to the reality of financial challenges that have already led to some cost-cutting and likely will lead to more.
There is no shortage of candidates interested in helping to solve those problems and others. Nine candidates are running for four 4-year terms on the board and two more are seeking the lone 2-year term.
That said, forgive us for saying it, but we're disappointed in the lack of depth of thinking most candidates seem to bring to the race. Good people, all, with genuine concerns for the school system and the children in it. But so many of them seem to engage in wishful thinking.
Most seem opposed to any serious cuts but also to any tax increases. Instead, too many say the answer lies in Springfield. Good luck with that.
Of all the candidates seeking 4-year terms, James Hurd impresses us the most. He more than any of the others seems to have a realistic view that genuinely balances the obligations to both students and the taxpayers. We strongly endorse him.
In addition for the four-year terms, we endorse incumbent Renea Amen, who seems best in touch with parental perspectives; incumbent Tony DeMonte, who is "an educator at heart"; and Joyce Mason, who well articulates the obligations the district has to the broadening demographics of the student population.
For the two-year term, we endorse incumbent Vincent Juarez, who brings a tough but common-sense approach to the issues facing the school system.
The other candidates -- Bill Barnabee, Joseph De Rosa, Jennifer Haack, Elizabeth Helgren, Richard Payne and incumbent Carla Little -- are genuinely concerned and we appreciate their interest in serving.