District 95 School Board candidates make their case
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:50AM
LAKE ZURICH — On April 9, Community Unit School District 95 voters will have six options to fill four seats on the local School Board.
Seeking re-election to the four-year terms include incumbents Kathy Brown of Lake Zurich, Scott McConnell of Lake Zurich, and Lisa Warren of Kildeer. The three newcomers on the ballot are Russell Cerqua of Kildeer, Eileen Maloney of Lake Zurich and John Shaw of Lake Zurich.
Brown, who is eyeing a third term, is currently finishing up her fourth year as board president, but announced that she is not vying for a second term at the head of the table. She explained that she feels it’s time for someone else to take on the lead role.
Brown said she’s running for re-election to help the board follow-through on two major goals it’s been working to achieve.
“The two major pieces are the implementation of the common core standards, and the follow-through on our social emotional assessment of our students in the district,” said Brown, adding that the latter piece analyzes students’ social well-being.
The two things she’s most proud of achieving with the board are financial stability and respect.
“I think the financial stability of the district has been important in allowing us to move forward and not stall, and I also think that our board has operated at a very high level of respect for one another.”
Brown also noted that she has a vested interest in helping the board achieve its goals, in part because she has children in the school system, with her youngest in middle school.
Appointed to fill a vacancy in last spring, McConnell also pointed out that he has children in the district. He said the board benefits from having members whose level of interest stems from having children in its schools.
“I think it’s important to have someone with an elementary school viewpoint on the board, and I have no plans to move because my kids are young,” he said.
McConnell highlighted the board’s financial stability and successful adoption of a three year teachers’ contract.
Because he’s had a year of experience learning how the district and board operate, McConnell explained that he will be more effective if given the chance to serve a full four-year term. The two objectives he is keen on bringing to fruition are to ensure the district’s positive financial standing is maintained, and to make sure that its curriculum and technology stay current.
“Technology is allowing for more individualized learning, and it’s important to stay ahead of the curve there,” said McConnell, noting that the district has “historically been behind with that.”
Warren, also appointed to fill a vacancy, has since January enjoyed helping the board maintain its financial stability. Like McConnell, Warren also expressed pride in helping the board negotiate a fair teachers contract. She said she is running for a full term in April to ensure that this kind of fiscal responsibility is maintained.
“I’d like to be a part of keeping us in this financial situation,” Warren said.
Seeing what goes on first-hand at the schools is a quality that Warren thinks is valuable to the board as well.
“I am still volunteering quite a bit in the schools and bringing that perspective to the board, seeing what goes on day to day,” Warren said. “Being a mother of three, I understand the practical implications of certain things that we do.”
Cerqua, a newcomer, is hopeful he’ll be elected because he is eager to give back to the same district that prepared his sons for a successful adulthood.
“I think from an academic standpoint, the system did a wonderful job with my kids, and so giving back is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Cerqua said.
Currently a certified public accountant, Cerqua wishes to help the board sustain and support the positive fiscal choices it has made in recent years.
“Fiscally they’ve had a few challenges, but these are tough times; I think my financial background could help them get to the next step,” he said.
Maloney referenced the district’s alleged violations related to the Illinois Asbestos Abatement Act at May Whitney Elementary School among reasons she opted to run. Maloney pledged to ensure the district’s facilities are up to code.
Transparency and fiscal stability also are areas she hopes to improve upon.
“There have been instances where I think we could have done better in the manner in which we communicated,” she said.
Maloney works for Zurich North America as a product development manager, primarily focused on risk management. She said that’s a quality that would be an asset to the board.
“I am particularly concerned with facilities, that’s my big issue, and maintaining the fiscal stability of the district,” she said.
Shaw, who also is competing for one of the four seats, is currently Ela Area Public Library’s board president.
Shaw has been a resident of Lake Zurich for nearly 27 years, serves as commissioner of Lake Zurich’s Zoning Board of Appeals, and is a member of the local Lion’s Club, among other local clubs.
“I am the kind of person who really believes in paying it forward to the community,” Shaw said. “My family has been provided good opportunities in the community, and I feel like this is my time to help.”
If he is elected, Shaw said he will make use of his professional experience in property management to help preserve and maintain the infrastructure of the district’s older more vintage buildings.
Shaw also plans to champion a more comprehensive strategy for vocational training at the high school level, and to reduce the district’s budget by sharing duplicative costs with its sister agencies.
“I’d like to look at working with other governmental agencies in the area to see if there are any other ways to reduce operating expenses, like purchasing fuel together or utilities, snow removal or landscaping,” he said.