Endorsements: Buttimer, Estes and Hill in Dist. 41, Koger, McGee, McGrane in Dist. 89
Dist. 41: Buttimer, Estes, Hill
Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 voters last November rejected a property tax increase that would have allowed the district to build a new school and begin providing all-day kindergarten at each of its elementary schools. The four candidates for three seats on the school board -- incumbents Jessica Buttimer, Edward "Ted" Estes and Julie Hill, and challenger Alison Prochaska -- have differing opinions on why the tax increase did not pass, and whether and how to fund a full-day kindergarten program and other improvements to the district.
Buttimer points out half of the past six referendums put forward by the district have failed, some students would have had to change schools had the tax increase passed, and some misinformation was being put out.
Estes admits the tax increase was a "big ask" at the time in terms of money and changes people would have to make, and says the board needs to examine more closely what it can do with current funds.
Hill said the board is not considering going back to referendum at this time, but said the district is one of only 10% of school districts in DuPage County not offering full-day kindergarten.
Prochaska, who has worked in education for 16 years, says she wants to bring a fresh perspective to the board, and points to the failed referendum as a reason new voices are needed. She says the $49 million bond issue didn't get enough community support and the current board is not a good steward of taxpayers' money.
All of the candidates participated in a joint online interview and expressed themselves well. Any of the four would make a fine board member; however, the experience and institutional knowledge of the three incumbents gives them an edge as the district begins a search for its next superintendent, with the current one planning to retire after the 2023-24 school year. Buttimer, Estes and Hill are endorsed.
Dist. 89: Koger, McGee, McGrane
It's a time of transition in Glen Ellyn Elementary School District 89. As a search firm assists in finding a replacement for departing Superintendent Emily Tammaru, three seats on the board are up for election on April 4. Six candidates are running -- incumbents Yannick Koger and Scott Pope are running as a slate with newcomer Jessica McGee, and newcomers Scott Waldbusser, Juan Peralta and Kevin McGrane are also running as a slate. Koger, McGee, McGrane, Peralta and Waldbusser participated in a joint online interview with the Daily Herald; Pope canceled his appearance.
Koger, who was appointed to the board in 2021, said his analytical background helps him objectively serve the district, understand the district's data, and solve tough problems.
McGee, a school psychologist, said the pandemic has had a negative impact on social skills; she believes the district can do more in terms of providing more social and emotional learning opportunities for students.
McGrane, who works in sales, feels teachers' concerns have been ignored by the current board and superintendent, and that new blood is needed on the board to help give teachers the ability to thrive. He believes the current superintendent rules with an iron fist and is not open to feedback.
Peralta, an Air Force veteran, expressed concerns about a possible future property tax increase and would like to be named to the board's finance committee, if elected. He would like to see more classroom aides hired to assist teachers.
Pope, in his candidate questionnaire, pointed to his experience as a sitting board member who has hired a superintendent, realigned school boundaries, and successfully passed two referendums.
Waldbusser said he's been frustrated by what he views as inattentive behavior by some current board members during meetings, and says he has a deep appreciation and respect for the work of teachers and the board should actively listen to their feedback.
We were impressed with all of the candidates who participated in the interview, but three in particular stood out -- Koger with his data analysis background, McGee and her experience as a school psychologist, and McGrane, a former Palatine Township trustee. Koger, McGee and McGrane are endorsed.