My guide to the D64 election
****Click on anything underlined for more info****
First, some background. Over the past two years:
- Parents of children with special education (SPED) needs have had to sue the district to enforce the federal educational rights of their children, and the board failed to hold the administration accountable for this lack of oversight. An audit of the SPED program was commissioned to the tune of $15,000. Parents are still fighting to be sure the audit recommendations are enacted.
- The board voted ‘yes’ to a School Resource Officer (SRO) program before conducting research. After the community raised fair questions about the program, the board commissioned a $20,000 report. That report highlighted the risks of SRO programs, and many important recommendations to mitigate those risks were brushed aside by five of the seven board members.
- These massive failures in such a short period of time caught the attention of parents and civic-minded citizens, who all came together to raise awareness for these concerns. As you may know, I am one of those civic-minded parents. I’ve been attending D64 school board meetings on the reg since August 2017.
- Though we pay more in taxes, we’re not keeping up with neighboring districts. There are many ways to measure a district’s health and performance, and each has its limitations. But some widely used metrics are concerning. For example:
The current board is not getting it done. We need fresh leadership.
In local elections, every. single. vote. counts. Four years ago, the incumbent WON BY JUST 100 VOTES. If you only feel strongly about one or two candidates in a race for three seats, then only vote for one or two! It’s not necessary to vote for the full number of seats available, and since these seats are awarded to the top vote-getters, doing so dilutes your vote.
There are (3) seats for 4-year terms, and (1) seat for a 2-year term.
I’ll share my recommendations and why, but don’t just take my word for it! Learn more about them by clicking on their names, which will take you to their candidate Facebook pages/sites. And come hear from them yourself during the D64 Candidate Forum on March 14, 7 pm, at the Park Ridge Community Church (100 Courtland Ave.)
Early voting begins on March 18 at Centennial Fitness Center, and Election Day is April 2. Hours and more details are here.
Candidates in each tier are listed in alphabetical order.
I Highly Recommend
Rebecca Little (2-year term) and Carol Sales (4-year term) are the most qualified of the candidates. Since they’ve been attending D64 board meetings for two years, they’re already up to speed on district operations and issues. They’re both actively engaged with and serving the schools in a variety of ways, plus they have the skills and talents to make the necessary improvements and set appropriate expectations for the new Superintendent and Principals. Each was first to announce in their race, have demonstrated they’re prepared at every forum, and have answered every questionnaire by deadline. Read their Herald-Advocate responses here and here.
Steve Blindauer (4-year term): A middle school teacher and teacher union rep for the Westchester Education Association. It’s useful to note that since Eastman Tiu resigned, the board no longer includes a teacher.
Dr. Lisa Page (4-year term): As a clinical and organizational psychologist, Dr. Page ensures structures and processes are in place to help organizations work more effectively. As many who follow the dysfunctional, often 4+ hours long D64 board meetings know, these skills would go a long way to getting the board back on track and moving forward in an effective manner.
Denise Pearl (4-year term): Emerson PTO President since 2016, and serves on the D207 Community Advisory Council. She’s been attending other area school board meetings and reviewing their meeting minutes to bring best practices to the D64 board.
I Do Not Recommend
Sal Galati (4-year term)
Gareth Kennedy (2-year term): Gareth was appointed to serve as a trustee on the Park Ridge Library Board through June 2020. He stated on his candidate Facebook page that if he wins the 2-year D64 seat, he will leave his post on the Library Board early. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe people should finish their commitments before hopping to another. How do we know he’d finish his D64 term if elected? Additionally, a look at his petitions to get on the ballot shows elected officials (including a current D64 board member) circulated heavily for him in the 11th hour to run against Little. If you’ve been reading the local paper over the past two years, you know the current board isn’t getting it done. Again, we need fresh leadership––not the usual suspects and the small group of people they’ll deign to recruit.
Tom Sotos (4-year term): Whether it’s asking the same question repeatedly over the span of 40 minutes, giving rambling soliloquies that disrupt the agenda, arguing with parents, badgering staff, being ok with spending $500,000 on an SRO program, or spending most of the meetings staring at his phone (click on any video here over the past two years and odds are high you will witness this), he’s demonstrated he’s not fit for board work. And this is just SOME of what I’ve personally witnessed while in attendance. We do not need another four years of this. There are plenty of great candidates running and we deserve better.
Bonus — 5th Ward Aldermanic Forum!
I live in the 5th ward. Do you? Find out here.
YOU DO?!? YAAASSSSSSS BEST WARD EVAH!!!
We’re the ONLY contested Aldermanic race, and you’ve got to decide which of the two you prefer: Charlie Melidosian or Sal Raspanti. So go to this event to see them in action: