Meet the candidates in uncontested D300 election
By Emily McFarlan Miller firstname.lastname@example.org January 5, 2013 3:22PM
Updated: February 7, 2013 6:34AM
CARPENTERSVILLE — Meet your new Board of Education members in Community Unit School District 300.
No, you didn’t miss an election — that’s not until April.
But only three candidates turned in packets to run for the school board this spring, and there are exactly three open seats on the board.
That means as long as each candidate gets just one vote during the election, board members Anne Miller and Dave Alessio and newcomer Kathleen Burley will be seated on the board.
Miller, president and most veteran member of the District 300 Board of Education, said that’s not the first time a school board election has been uncontested. That happened at least twice in recent memory: in November 1997 and April 2005, she said.
But Burley said, “It kind of takes the wind out of our sails.”
“It’s nice that it was an easy win, but now I feel like I have to prove myself to make sure I was worthy to be here,” Burley said.
Miller, Dave Alessio and Karen Roeckner’s seats, all four-year terms, are up for election this spring.
A total six area residents had picked up packets to run for the school board, either for themselves or others, according to the district.
That includes Tom Mitchell of Hampshire; District 300 African American Parent Advisory Council founder and president Paul Dodson of Algonquin; and board member Joe Stevens of Algonquin. Stevens’ term expires in 2015, but he said he had picked up the packet for Roeckner at her request.
Roeckner told The Courier-News Friday she ultimately decided not to seek a third term on the school board “as I do believe that we need new people to come on to the board and that there really should be term limits on board members.”
The board also needs a balance of members who have children enrolled in District 300, she said. Currently, only board members Alessio and Steve Fiorentino have children in district schools
Burley agreed: “I just don’t think we have enough parental input on the school board right now.”
That’s part of the reason the longtime parent volunteer decided to run for the school board this spring, she said: The oldest of her three children just graduated from Jacobs High School in Algonquin, and the others are students at Jacobs and Westfield Community School, also in Algonquin.
Burley has been involved in District 300 since she and her family moved to Algonquin, where she works part time as a retail merchandiser for Foster Grant. Her oldest son then was a preschooler at the deLacey Family Education Center in Carpentersville, she said.
She’s been a member of the parent-teacher organization at deLacey and the school improvement team at Neubert Elementary School in Algonquin and co-chaired the district’s attendance boundary committee in the early 2000s, she said. Most recently, she was outspoken during the district’s legislative battle to end the economic development area around the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates.
And now that her children are a little older and there’s not much she can do at their respective schools, she said, “I feel like I’ve come full circle.”
“It seems like the next logical step for me to join the school board,” she said.
Burley said her first love is early childhood education because of how it benefitted her son at deLacey, and she also hopes to be “a fresh pair of eyes” on the board.
Miller first was elected to the school board in 1997, and she decided to run again because she said she believes she brings value to the board, the district and the community.
“I think a level of stability and continuity is important for the district to continue to move forward with improvements and maintain fiscal responsibility,” she said.
That includes constantly working with unknowns from the state while maintaining a balanced budget, she said. In the coming year, that also will include implementing the new teachers contract, transitioning high school to a nine-period day and exploring and possibly implementing boundary changes, part of bringing down the district’s large class sizes, she said.
She lives in Algonquin, where she is a senior vice president for Novare, Inc.
Alessio also agreed he’d like to “see through some of the changes coming up.”
Among those changes, he said, boundary changes would be a “logistical puzzle,” and the district’s bond payments are set to increase in the next few years. State legislators also still are considering pension reform, something he said the district will have to react to.
Alessio, who works as an electronics engineer in the cellular industry, was a board member in 2006, then elected to a full term in 2009. He also lives in Algonquin, and while no more than three board members can live in the same township, he lives not in Algonquin Township, but in Dundee Township.
“I’m looking forward to another term. I’m looking forward to working with all the groups in the district,” he said.
“The district is still growing, and there always are challenges, but I feel we’re making progress.”