Five candidates run for three seats in School District
Updated: March 8, 2013 6:10AM
GLENVIEW — Five candidates are running for three open seats on the School District 30 Board of Education in Glenview and Northbrook.
The School District 30 Caucus has endorsed Ursula Sedlak, Fred Sloneker and Dr. Ken Spero for the April 9 election.
Caucus Chairwoman Kristine Kurpiewski said they interviewed several qualified residents and thanked “all the candidates for their interest in serving the school community.”
Spero is running for a second term, while Sedlak and Sloneker are newcomers.
Donald Feinstein also is running to represent District 30 as a first-time candidate. And incumbent Karen Roloff is running for another term. She has been a trustee since taking office in 1989.
“District 30 is very fortunate in that there are no significant issues facing our district,” Kurpiewski said.
“The safety of our schools has been and continues to be a top priority, especially in light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut,” she added.
Incumbent candidate Karen Roloff, however disagreed, and said Illinois public schools faced several critical issues that school trustees must anticipate.
First, she explained proposed legislation for pension reform would shift costs to school districts.
“Our local elected officials look at our districts as being so fiscally responsible with our Triple A bond rating and budget reserves that they think we can afford this,” Roloff said.
“But it’s not correct to balance the problem on the backs of local school districts and rank and file of educators who spend careers in education.”
She also said while District 30 has several excellent teaching programs, school boards were susceptible to “wide swings” in new policies and methodologies for educating children.
“So it’s critically important for school boards to engage in professional and personal development workshops,” she said.
Roloff also encouraged trustees to study best practices in education.
“In particular, do your own research because we know our kids the best.”
Roloff said she often meets with local legislators on education.
“I know these people and we don’t agree on their approach to cost shifting pensions to districts,” she said, adding she has frequent contact with State Sen. Dan Biss (D-9th) and State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-57th).
“I respect both of them, but they know I disagree with them,” she said.
Looking ahead, Roloff said District 30 will soon face administrative personnel changes and that trustees must be informed of the process.
“I know how search and hire works, and I’m the type of person to push the envelope and ask critical questions.
“The most important thing we do as a board is putting in place good administrators. We need board members with that experience.”
Although a newcomer, Feinstein said he attended District 30 School Board meetings, read the minutes of meetings when he could not attend and read local newspapers.
“I’m still educating myself on the issues, but as the parent of a kindergartener and a 3-year-old I live in a district with top schools in the state and I want to keep it that way,” said Feinstein, also a member of the Willowbrook PTO.
Spero said the board’s main duty was “to continue excelling as a high-achieving district.”
“We need to keep the district financially sound, to provide character-building programs and to enhance our information technology,” he said.
On pension reform, Spero said school board members typically lacked overall control of the system because the true decision-makers were state legislators.
“We need to see what happens in the (Illinois) House and Senate. The state has real financial problems.”
Sedlak also said school boards must wait for legislation on pension reform before reacting.
“The state needs to come to a conclusion and then we can make decisions,” she said.
Sedlak said School District 30 was in stable financial condition and teacher contract negotiations were under way.
“We have to align ourselves to the Common Core standards that are coming, and new technology is an integral part of the program,” said Sedlak, who is PTO president of Wescott School.
Sloneker said “the most important” issue soon coming to the district was hiring replacements for retiring administraters.
With board seats up for election, he said, “I feel strongly that the board needs more members who have children who are still in the district schools.”
While state fiscal challenges remain, Sloneker did not believe resolving pension reform was the primary issue for students, parents and District 30 community members.
“If someone wants to be a lobbyist or advocate for or against proposed pension reform, they are welcome to go do that,” he said.
“But I don’t think that our school board is the appropriate platform.”