Incumbents swept out in Grass Lake District 36

Voters unhappy with below average test scores and a $6 million expansion project swept four incumbents off the Grass Lake Elementary School District 36 board of education Tuesday, including the panel's president and vice president, according to unofficial results.

Newcomers Andrew Williams, Susanne Tauke, Russell Page and John Frendreis - who ran together as a slate - ousted incumbents Cynthia Collins, Deborah Fogel, Susan Kozenski and Ron Lobodzinski in Tuesday's election. Collins is the school board president and Fogel its vice president.

Among the key issues driving the challengers in the one-school district based in Antioch was the amount of money it spends on each pupil and the cost of a project to tear down a portion of the school and build a new wing.

Tuesday's winners said the price tag for the demolition and rebuilding project is too steep, and they criticized officials for dedicating a large portion of the new wing to administrative offices.

"We don't dispute the need for renovation," Frendreis said leading up to the election. "But the cost per square foot is way out of proportion."

Williams was the top vote-getter Tuesday, receiving 226 votes. Tauke registered 217 votes, Page received 204 votes and Frendreis scored 197 votes.

Collins received 181 votes, while Vogel took in 176. Kozenski received 164 votes and Lobodzinski received 145 votes. Jim Heischberg, who didn't align with either the victorious slate or the incumbents, received 98 votes.

Besides the building expansion, the challenging slate also criticized the district's per pupil spending of $20,514, about 60 percent above the $12,821 state average.

Despite that spending, challengers noted, only 29.8 percent of District 36 students met or exceeded state standards on the PARCC test in 2016, compared to the state average of 33.4 percent.

"For the amount of money they have been collecting and the expenses per student, the quality of education should be higher," Page said before the election.

Susanne Tauke
John Frendreis
Russell Page
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