District 211, 15 school board races among most contentious

 
 
Updated 12/22/2016 12:01 AM
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This spring's race for three available seats on the Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board -- in which the recent debate over transgender students' access to locker rooms and bathrooms is expected to play a part -- will be evenly divided between new candidates and others with current or past experience on the board.

Edward M. Yung, who previously served on both the District 211 and Palatine Township Elementary District 15 school boards, joined the race on the last day of candidate filing Monday.

On the first day of filing a week earlier, newcomers Ralph T. Bonatz, Katherine Jee Young David and Jean J. Forrest joined incumbents Anna Klimkowicz and Robert J. LeFevre Jr. on the April 4 ballot.

The group District 211 Parents for Privacy, which is suing the district over its agreement with the Department of Eduction to allow a transgender student limited access to a girls locker room, has so far publicized its support of one of the new candidates.

A Facebook post by the group publicized a signature drive for Bonatz's nominating petition in Palatine earlier this month.

Parents for Privacy co-founder Vicki Wilson said the group is not yet ready to announce its endorsements in the race, but added that she was thrilled the incumbents are being challenged by candidates who truly represent the community.

Yung said that while he recognizes the transgender debate to be the most significant change in District 211's operations since he last served on the board, he believes both the current lawsuit and national discussion will be resolved by a Supreme Court ruling on another similar case next year.

For him, a desire to generally support public education is the main reason for his latest candidacy, Yung said.

"I believe everyone in the community has to be involved in education," he said. "I'm a firm believer that education is the key to a lot of things."

Current District 211 Board Member Mike Scharringhausen is not seeking re-election.

District 15

Eleven candidates, including three incumbents, have filed nominating papers to run for the five seats on the Palatine Township Elementary School District 15 school board that will be up for grabs next year, setting up a second showdown between opponents and advocates for a plan to build two new schools and redraw school boundaries.

Five of the challengers are affiliated with the parents group that led the charge against a $130 million bond issue rejected overwhelmingly by voters last month.

The candidates making up that slate are Frank Annerino, Michael Smolka, Lisa Beth Szczupaj, Anthony Wang and Barbara Kain, a co-founder of the anti-referendum group For Our District 15 Kids.

Another issue looming over the race is the current board's decision to approve an unprecedented 10-year teachers contract. Annerino said last week that decision plus the referendum have led to a lack of trust between the public and the current board.

Incumbents seeking re-election are board President Peggy Babcock, Vice President James G. Ekeberg and Gerald D. Chapman. Board secretary David Seiffert and board member David Gurion, who was appointed after board member Manjula Sriram resigned in November 2015, chose not to seek re-election. Other candidates running include Asad 'Sid' Aman, Adam Bauske and David Border. Border was considered by the board to be one of the top five candidates for Sriram's open seat.

District 26

Voters' rejection of a tax hike for a $29 million early learning center in River Trails District 26 last month hasn't led to a contested race for the school board in the spring. In fact, the ballot won't include even enough candidates to fill the four 4-year terms that will be available. Running for the school board will be incumbents William Grimpe and Julia Nemcek along with newcomer Susan Therese Stolzer.

Incumbents Rathna Koka and Dan Miller won't be running for re-election. Grimpe is newly appointed to fill out the term of Kathleen Beck, who retired.

• Daily Herald staff writer Doug T. Graham contributed to this report.

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