New District 15 board majority takes office
A new Palatine Elementary District 15 board majority was sworn in Wednesday, vowing to uphold a campaign pledge to improve communication with the community.
Six new board members recited the oath of office Wednesday night administered by Cook County Judge Jill Marisie -- five of whom were swept to election April 4 as part of the Engage D15 slate. They campaigned on increasing transparency after the old board inked an unprecedented 10-year teachers contract and voted to put on the ballot a controversial $130 million new-school referendum whose proposal voters overwhelmingly rejected in November.
"There's no doubt in my mind this group will work together very well to overcome obstacles to positively impact our community," said Lisa Szczupaj, chosen by her colleagues as the new board president. "We really appreciate you placing your trust in us."
The sixth board member sworn in, David Border, lost in the election but was appointed by the outgoing board Monday -- a move that drew criticism from some of their critics because of the timing. Outgoing board President Peggy Babcock defended the decision, saying she and her colleagues had governance experience the incoming board lacks.
Border will fill the remaining two years on the term of Jessica Morrison, who resigned April 12 because she is moving out of the district.
The new board members sworn in Wednesday who will serve 4-year terms include Szczupaj, new vice president Mike Smolka, secretary Anthony Wang, and Frank Annerino. Barb Kain was elected to a 2-year term.
The lone holdover from the old board is Zubair Khan, whose term expires in two years.
Szczupaj said in addition to increasing communication efforts with the community, the board's top priorities include negotiation of three employee union contracts, putting together a five-year strategic plan, and assigning board members to committees.
Before the new board members were seated, the old board was recognized by Superintendent Scott Thompson. Babcock, Gerald Chapman and James Ekeberg lost their re-election bids, while David Gurion and David Seiffert decided not to run.
"While sometimes it seemed a thankless job devoid of any glory, the district is better off because of their efforts and leadership," Thompson said.
As Wednesday served as an organizational board meeting, the next regular board meeting to conduct business is scheduled for May 10