Why the sudden interest in school board candidacy?
Interest may be sparked by President Trump’s recent nominee for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, who was described in a Washington Post article as, “a former Republican Party chairwoman in Michigan and chair of the pro-school-choice advocacy group American Federation for Children, and a shining light to members of the movement to privatize public education by working to create programs and pass laws that require the use of public funds to pay for private school tuition in the form of vouchers and similar programs.”
Another reason could be House Bill 229, legislation recently signed by Governor Rauner that grants to the McHenry and Lake County Boards the same consolidation powers as granted to DuPage County three years ago under a pilot program.
Perhaps it’s our governor’s Turnaround Agenda, which also gives more power to local governments along with a proposal that “explicitly authorizes” a municipality’s ability to seek relief under Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code with “no requirements, pre-conditions or other limitations.”
Moving more authority in decision-making over to local school boards isn’t a new conversation. In a 2013 Daily Herald interview, Kathy Brown, an incumbent running for Lake Zurich Unit District 95 Trustee stated, “The most significant budgetary issue facing our District is the Illinois pension crisis. The shifting of the pension burden to local districts will have a significant financial impact on all school districts.”
Then, of course, there is the federal, state, and local debt problem. Our Federal government, for example, spent $4.3T on expenses, collected $3.7T in revenue, and carried $18.3T of debt in 2015. Illinois spent $75B on what should have been a $71B budget addressing $141B of debt. Lake County paid approximately $405M in expenses, collected $444M in revenue, and carried $247M in debt. In 2015, 27% of the State budget provided funding for education, and only 2% of Federal funding was used to support educational services.
While all of this may certainly be enough to get educators “rattled,” they can only speculate at this point what the future holds for public education. Undoubtedly, there’s a heightened concern revealed in the record turnout of candidates running for school board positions, myself included.
This could possibly be one of the most important, if not THE most important, school board race I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. I strongly urge voters to scrutinize candidates and make sure they represent local attitudes. One helpful tool is Illinois Sunshine, which tracks political donations that may influence a candidate’s agenda. MapLight also offers a variety of voter resources.
Post By: Daily Herald
Concerns over state school revenue may be one of the reasons 240 Lake County residents have decided to run for school board positions in the spring election, school officials said.
The large turnout of candidates shows up in races through the county but is particularly evident in several particular districts. For example, 11 candidates are seeking five board seats at Woodland Elementary District 50, nine have filed for four seats at Grass Lake Elementary District 36, and eight candidates have filed for two board seats at the College of Lake County.
Lake County Clerk Carla Wyckoff said her office is trying to determine if the number of candidates makes the April 4 consolidated election the largest school election in county history.
Roycealee Wood, the Lake County Regional Superintendent of Schools, said concern over state revenue seems to be one of the driving forces behind the large turnout.
To read article in its entirety, view: 240 candidates to run for Lake County school board seats