Endorsements: Cavill, Cramer, Dombrowski and Rosenblum for Palatine Schaumburg High School District 211 school board

This endorsement is a consensus opinion of the Daily Herald Editorial Board. The editorial has been updated to correct the spelling for candidate Aiden Branns.

When 11 people crowd together to vie for only four open seats on any board, it can be a sign of division and displeasure, and those are likely factors driving the large field seeking a spot on the Palatine Schaumburg High School District 211 school board.

In the past year, the board has faced large, sometimes angry crowds concerned about curriculum issues surrounding mask policy, sex education and social-emotional learning and about materials available in the school libraries. And, the school board is often divided into philosophical camps over these issues, as well as the way the district manages its finances. So, a case can be made for a board in disarray.

But one can also be made for a board that represents the diverse values of the community and is functioning successfully in spite of some antipathy among its members. And that's a case we find compelling.

The breakdown of candidates for the board can be read as having distinct potential to establish stable control over the philosophical direction of the district.

While they are not necessarily affiliated with each other, on one side are candidates, many of them quite appealing, who would tilt the direction of the board further toward its present majority. These include incumbents Kimberly Cavill and Stephen Rosenblum and newcomers Jane A. Russell, a retired teacher; Michelle Barron, a deputy director at a not-for-profit counseling agency; college student Aiden Branss; and perhaps to a lesser degree Meenal Dewan, a mother of two District 211 graduates and a third student at Fremd; and Joan Sherrill, a small-business owner.

On the other - also not necessarily affiliated with each other and also sometimes quite appealing - are incumbents Mark Cramer and Peter Dombrowski and newcomers Susan L. Saam, a multimedia specialist, and Barbara A. Velez, a secretary and translator, both of whom have been outspoken critics of some district programs and what they see as the board's general direction.

Voters whose primary interest is in a particular ideological approach may well align with one or the other of these groups. For the general success of the district, however, that would be a mistake.

Democracy is not always pretty, and that can certainly be said in the case of District 211, where Dombrowski and Cramer, who are generally conservative about spending and many cultural values, often find themselves at odds with the board majority. But their voices and their approaches provide some balance and needed challenge, and they ensure that a substantial perspective in the community is represented and considered. Dombrowski, in particular, recognizes and respects the difficulties of group decision making. Ousting either of these incumbents in favor of a candidate more in line with the present majority would diminish a meaningful influence.

Likewise, Rosenblum and Cavill, while decidedly inclined to side with the board majority and the current district direction, bring useful experience, thoughtful analysis and genuine concern for the welfare and advancement of all students. While some of the newcomers offer promising backgrounds and ideas largely in line with these incumbents, none brings the lessons that come with working in a board setting on the particular issues facing District 211.

As the district works back toward pre-pandemic academic achievement levels and prepares to confront complicated financial challenges from a potential development around a Chicago Bears stadium, experience and diversity of thought will be especially important for District 211 - not that the newcomers at any point along the board's philosophical divide would be reflexive or easily manipulated; most certainly would not.

But District 211 is a highly successful district, both financially and academically. Achieving that success, while remaining sensitive to the entire community, sometimes involves heated or uncomfortable debate. That can be a necessary quality of an effective, representative governing board. Cavill, Cramer, Dombrowski and Rosenblum get our endorsement to ensure continued thoughtful progress in District 211.

Mark Cramer
Peter Dombrowski
Steven Rosenblum
Jane Russell
Joan Sherrill. 2023
Michelle Barron
Meenal Dewan
Barbara Velez
Susan L. Saam
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