Endorsements: David Scarpino, Emmanuel Thomas and Birkett for Community Unit School District 300 board
The quandary all school boards were forced to negotiate the last 12 months was a decidedly smoother journey for some.
While remote learning was a given the first several months of the pandemic, it soon became clear parents and other interested stakeholders had varying opinions on if -- and then when -- it would be safe to return to the classroom.
Community Unit School District 300, the state's sixth largest district with more than 20,000 students and 3,000 staff members, smartly managed the various interests with a measured, common-sense approach that didn't draw as much fire as other suburban districts.
According to reporting from Daily Herald reporter Madhu Krishnamurthy, roughly 70% of district families opted for in-person instruction for the second semester. Students have returned to school in staggered segments, and elementary students begin attending five days a week on March 22.
Of the seven candidates vying for three open seats on the board, incumbents David Scarpino and Emmanuel Thomas displayed the leadership and made the tough choices needed in an unprecedented challenge.
Scarpino started with the district in July 2004 as associate superintendent. He later became principal of Hampshire Elementary School and retired in July 2015. He has 40 years of public school experience.
Thomas, appointed to the board in November 2020, says his areas of focus are safety (COVID-19, computer bullying, etc.) and transparency.
That leaves the third seat for one of the five challengers, who bring a commitment to make the district better: Christine Birkett, Daniel Dale, Holly Jarovsky, Kim Withycombe and Kristina Paul. All are viable choices and each would bring a unique perspective to the board.
Birkett stands out. She said she has no single focus but rather a range of goals. She is excited to engage with the community, work on a strategic plan and hold the district accountable to the plan. She'd like to "provide representation for parents who are at the start of their child's education and who have a vested interest in the district's ability to offer every student a quality education."
Scarpino, Thomas and Birkett are endorsed.