Endorsements: Ellis , Bury, Shroder, Rush for U-46 school board
The Elgin Area School District U-46 election always draws a crowd. And why not? It's the second largest district in the state, with a nearly half-billion-dollar budget and 40,000 students in 11 communities.
All told, there are eight candidates in the April 7 election for three, 4-year seats and two candidates for a 2-year term.
Four-year seat: Ellis, Bury, Shroder
First-term trustee Traci Ellis has been an articulate and energetic advocate for equal opportunity for students.
Incumbent Jennifer Shroder has pushed for year-round schools throughout the district after the practice produced positive results in the few schools in which it was piloted.
Challenger Larry Bury knows his way around government as deputy director of the Northwest Municipal Conference. He is practical and knowledgeable on an array of issues facing the district. While his wife is a U-46 teacher, he avers that he will steer clear of any conflicts of interest in contract talks.
Ed Novak has four years remaining on a six-year term as an elected Bartlett Library trustee. He is noncommital about whether he'd resign that seat if he won election to the school board. That's enough for us to take a pass on Novak, as we have a long-standing policy opposed to the practice of officials holding two elected positions.
We'd urge Arisleyda Taylor to get involved with the Citizens Advisory Commission, but she's not well versed enough in the issues facing the district to serve as an elected board member.
Susan Kerr is a longtime member of the Citizens Advisory Commission, but we're concerned that she may be unwilling to explore the entire range of alternatives at the board's disposal as it faces the prospect of declining revenues from the state.
Phil Costello is a park district finance director and initially became interested in the school board from a financial perspective.
Jeanette Ward believes that Common Core is a "back door" to federal control of the school curriculum, and she sees the district's use of standards-based grading as having the effect of pushing down the grades of good students and rewarding poor performers.
Among the eight hopefuls, we find that Ellis, Bury and Shroder represent the best combination of experience and commitment to the schools. They are endorsed.
Two-year term: Rush
Kai Rush is a teacher in St. Charles District 303 as well as at Northern Illinois University. He is passionate about education and says he chose the school district when he moved to the area from Florida because he liked U-46's innovative approach to instruction.
He faces Cody Holt, a 2010 graduate of Larkin High School who ran unsuccessfully for Elgin City Council two years ago. Holt is smart and eager to be involved but trails Rush in both the understanding of and passion for education. Rush is endorsed.