4 challengers, 1 incumbent in Fox River Grove school board race
Just one incumbent is running for re-election to the Fox River Grove Elementary District 3 school board, which opens up a race for four seats to a group of challengers generally content with the direction in which the district is going.
But, while the district enjoys a relatively healthy financial position, Michael Olencheck, a fireman and mechanic, said he has heard criticism about the high taxes funding District 3 schools. He doesn't see the board taking a tough stance in bargaining sessions with the teacher's union. Olencheck said teachers are "pretty much the hardest workers you can find," but advocated a happy medium when it comes to the tax levy.
"You can't lay down and give them exactly what they want every time," Olencheck said. "It would be nice for a little bit of negotiation."
Olencheck had an unsuccessful run for the Fox River Grove village board in 2011.
Timothy Hatfield, a retiring Elgin Area School District U-46 teacher, said District 3 is on the right track, pointing to good student test scores and the district's secure finances. He said his teaching background would bring a needed perspective to the board.
"I'll have good input, just because I've been in the war room," Hatfield said. "I've been in there, and I know what helps make good schools."
Patrick Wall, an attorney, said it's his legal background and business history that will make him a productive member of the school board. One of his goals is to make sure students have a solid range of elective course offerings so they get more than the "common core" curriculum. He suggested classes on technology, coding and business.
"The people on the board now have done a wonderful job, and I want to continue that," Wall said.
Patrick Riley, who works in sales, said he has leadership experience to bring to the table after four years as the president of the Fox River Grove Recreation Council where he worked with the village, school board, community groups and residents while managing programs and maintaining healthy finances.
"These experiences have helped prepare me to serve on the school board and face the unknown challenges the future will bring," Riley said.
Stephen Pickering, the lone incumbent in the race, has been on the board for two years. He works as a software support analyst and this is his sixth year volunteering as the director of school plays in District 3.
Pickering said he is particularly interested in reaching out to residents who don't have children in the schools for their input on board decisions.
"So often that's an unrepresented voice in a district and yet, what happens in a district affects them," Pickering said.
He also hopes the district will continue looking at multi-age classrooms as an option to address class sizes in a district with shrinking enrollment.
None of the candidates supported the consolidation proposal with Cary Elementary District 26, though all said it should be left as an option for the future.