Endorsements: Carmichael, Huber, Drumke and Kulkarni in District 128
The challenges of a year of pandemic learning have brought intense interest to school board elections across the suburbs. That's the case in Libertyville-Vernon Hills High School District 128, where 10 candidates are running for four 4-year terms in the April 6 election.
The candidates are Cara Benjamin, Don Carmichael, Jim Connell, Chris Coughlin, Kara Drumke, Sean Gay, Kevin Huber, Sonal Kulkarni, Dale Sherman and Kathryn "Katy" Talerico. Julia Brua dropped out of the race citing family reasons.
Two are incumbents who stood on different sides of a heated debate in the community last fall over in-person vs. fully remote learning. Hundreds of parents and students rallied to allow the return to in-school classes and hundreds more signed a petition against it amid rapidly growing COVID-19 case counts and public health guidance.
At a board meeting in October, Carmichael, 59, a retired Stevenson High School science teacher, voted to stay in remote learning. Huber, 53, a Libertyville High School graduate and former executive director of the Chicago Teachers' Pension and Retirement Fund, voted to allow in-person learning. The 4-3 vote went Huber's way, although the return to the two high schools later was postponed on the recommendation of Lake County health authorities.
We endorse both Carmichael and Huber, who despite their different viewpoints have approached the emotionally charged matter thoughtfully, diligently and with respect for others' opinions. We hope the debate over how to teach during a public health crisis will become moot soon amid a drop in COVID-19 cases, but other pressing issues will arise, including covering pandemic-related costs and negotiating a teacher contract next year.
In particular, Carmichael's and Huber's experience will add continuity as District 128 brings on new Superintendent Denise Herrmann on July 1.
We endorse Kara Drumke and Sonal Kulkarni for the two remaining seats on the board.
Drumke, 51, a lawyer and reading interventionist in Fremont Elementary District 79, is knowledgeable about District 128 and has done her homework on school district finances. She credited the school board with being responsive to the community and with doing its best in a new and constantly shifting situation.
Kulkarni, 49, a director of IT, has a well-reasoned and methodical approach to managing COVID-19 for in-person learning while also supporting families that choose remote education. We like her suggestion as part of that plan to give students accountability by asking them to sign a social contract to keep each other safe.