Mundelein High candidates concerned about schedule change, state funding
Candidates for the Mundelein High School District 120 board say the pending change to an eight-period schedule and uncertain state funding are among the pressing issues facing the school.
Five people are running for four seats: incumbents Sara Davalos, Tami Forman and Laura Mellon; Diamond Lake District 76 board member Laura Vogt; and political newcomer Thomas F. Ouimet. All four seats carry 4-year terms.
The candidates talked about their top concerns and other issues in interviews and questionnaires ahead of the April 4 election.
The school board voted in September to end Mundelein High's unusual four-class block schedule and switch to an eight-period day starting this fall. The school had adopted a block schedule with 90-minute periods in 1996 to combat behavioral problems and improve student performance.
Since then, however, the block schedule has fallen out of favor with educators at Mundelein and elsewhere.
Ouimet said he originally wanted to keep the block schedule but ultimately changed his mind because it makes Mundelein stand out in an unfavorable way.
"We're perceived as being different if we have a different schedule," he said. "I didn't want us to have a perception of being the weird or negative or different school district."
Davalos, who was appointed to the board in November, also said the schedule change is Mundelein High's top issue. Although she wasn't on the board when it was approved, she backs the switch and said students will adjust.
Davalos supports after-school help for students having trouble with the change.
Mellon said the top concern is the uncertainty over state funding. A property tax freeze and pension payment changes proposed by Gov. Bruce Rauner could significantly affect the district's revenue, she said.
"Financially, we just don't know what's going to happen," she said.
As for the school schedule, Mellon said she initially wanted to keep the block format but voted for the eight-period day because she believes average and below-average students are struggling now.
"Ultimately, I had to go with what was in the best interests of the students," she said.
Vogt similarly voiced concern about state funding and the change from the block schedule. When it comes to the schedule, she expressed faith in Mundelein's teachers.
"They are the ones who will make it work," Vogt said. "The teachers are the ones in the trenches. They know what their kids need."
Forman said her top concern is making sure the school is an accessible and safe learning experience "for children of all cultures."
Mundelein High has a relatively high Hispanic student population, and Forman said she opposes allowing federal agents into the school in search of immigrants in the U.S. illegally.