Slate members, retired substitute teacher headed to District 59 board
Two parents who ran as slate-mates and a retired substitute teacher -- all newcomers critical of the Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 administration -- appeared to claim three school board seats in Tuesday's election.
Unofficial results with one precinct left to be counted in Cook County show Patricia "Patti" Petrielli as the top vote-getter with 2,545, followed by Courtney Lang with 1,969 and Randy Reid at 1,826. Trailing were James Goranson with 1,694 votes, Daniel Naumowicz with 1,573, incumbent Barbara Somogyi at 1,202 and Lisa Griffin with 1,081.
Rancor over District 59 Superintendent Art Fessler's chosen curriculum led to the crowded field, with all candidates expressed varying degrees of dissatisfaction with its implementation, though some suggested tweaks and others wanted wholesale changes.
Petrielli, a substitute teacher in the district who retired last year after 25 years of full-time teaching, called the curriculum "an experiment" foisted upon the instructors. She believes it's led to lower test scores and left students unprepared for higher levels.
After her victory Tuesday night, Petrielli said Fessler must be held accountable for the new curriculum. She said the district has "learning experiences" instead of a curriculum.
"I think since he's come on, we've seen things decline because of this thinking that he has," Petrielli.
She added that she plans to keep a close watch on spending. Toward that end, she said the school board should create an advisory finance committee.
Lang and Reid, two district parents running together as a slate, contend there are gaps in the curriculum and its implementation has been poor. They said programming must improve, especially in math and science.
Somogyi, the board's longest-tenured member with 41 years on the panel, declined to comment on Tuesday's results, but acknowledged during the campaign there "might have been some mistakes made" when the district changed from a more traditional curriculum into one that emphasizes students' learning experiences.