Endorsements: Quagliano, Troy, Melendy and Cratty for Huntley District 158 school board
Had there been no pandemic, would the interest in replacing school board members be as strong?
There are some unhappy parents, many of whom want their kids back in the classroom. And they blame the school board, at least in part, for that not happening quickly enough.
Huntley Community School District 158 is not an island. It has eight schools with approximately 9,000 students, some of whom with those unhappy parents.
The pandemic and how it was handled seems to be a central reason there are six candidates to fill four seats held by incumbents, all of whom seek another term. They are: Anthony Quagliano, Paul Troy, Lesli Melendy and Sean Cratty. The challengers: Dana Dalton-Wiley, Susan Hochmuth, Kate Policheri, Laura Murray, Tara Masino and Jennifer Sargent, a write-in.
District administration has favored in-person learning when it was safe, and recently announced as part of its "Return to Learn" plan K-5 hybrid students would move to full-day in-person attendance March 15.
Among the most impressive challengers is Policheri, a pharmacist, who said she "had the luxury of being a critic" when it comes to grading the school board's response to the pandemic. She is a big believer in strong support of the teachers because she sees that as a direct benefit to the students.
Dalton-Wiley, a proposal project manager, said the district did an excellent job going remote so quickly in March, but she was less impressed with the planning and implementation of learning the district did later in the year into 2021.
Quagliano, the board president, is a 14-year veteran who considered not running, but the pandemic created the all-time challenge, and he "didn't want to abandon the district."
Troy has served admirably since 2009, Melendy seeks her second term, and Cratty, who was appointed eight months ago, helped make deliberate, nonemotional choices with all students in mind.
Some say the board did well confronting the pandemic and others were clearly not fans.
With the unprecedented challenge, the board, caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, carefully weighed its decisions, admits to wanting a redo on some and overall did well in thinking safety first for students and staff. They deserve another term. We endorse Quagliano, Troy, Melendy and Cratty.