Endorsements: Hollatz, Steetz, Swacha, Torres for Lake Park High School District 108 board
The candidates running for Lake Park High School District 108 board share a desire to help guide students through "pandemic fallout" -- educational and emotional losses from the past year -- but differ in their approaches to best achieve this goal.
Seven candidates are running for four, 4-year terms. Incumbents are Thomas Hollatz and Cara Steetz; challengers are Beata Swacha, Christopher Casaccio, Thomas Rofrano, Heriberto "Herbie" Torres and Anthony Gironda.
Hollatz, of Roselle, who has served on the board since 2016, is running as part of a slate with Steetz and Torres. A retired teacher, Hollatz describes himself as a strong supporter of the fine arts with expertise in curriculum, budget and policy. He spoke about the broad range of responsibilities of a school board candidate and why the position isn't to be taken lightly. He stresses the need to increase student involvement at Lake Park and identify and reach out to students who are not involved in activities.
Steetz, of Roselle, who was appointed to the board in 2019, is an assistant director at Northwest Educational Council for Student Success. She describes herself as a "Lancer for life" and expresses support for the district's new strategic plan and educational pathways for career and college.
Swacha, a 20-year resident of Roselle, is a chief financial officer at the Appraisal Institute and has two decades of experience working with nonprofits. She believes the board took tremendous steps to keep students safe during the pandemic, but feels it was at the expense of curriculum standards and students' social growth. She expressed concerns about remote learning potentially leading to lowering standards. She believes the board needs to prioritize in-person learning for families who desire it.
Torres, who moved to Itasca in 2015, is a father of six who will have a student attending Lake Park for the next three terms. He is a small-business owner who believes his background in finance will be useful on the school board. He emphasizes the need for meeting students' social and emotional needs during the pandemic.
Casaccio attended an endorsement interview on Zoom but did not complete a candidate questionnaire. He said some of the board's decisions reflected "missed opportunities" and fresh ideas are needed. He stressed the need to get students back in the classroom. He suggested working to increase school pride but did not specify how this could be done.
Anthony Gironda and Thomas Rofrano did not respond to invitations to attend an interview or complete a questionnaire.
Hollatz, Steetz, Torres and Swacha are endorsed.