PRAIRIE GROVE – Fresh from a year of turmoil and a one-day strike, there are seven candidates running for four open spots on the District 46 school board.
Incumbents Laura Domoto and Charlotte Kremer are up against newcomers Laura Barker, John Bowman, Anna Olas, Margaret Ponga and Rick Salvo.
Some candidates hailed the agreement with the district's union after teachers had worked for nearly two years without a contract as the greatest accomplishment of the past year. But Olas said it was the district's biggest black mark.
"I disagree with the amount of time it took the school board and the teachers union to come to an agreement," she said. "I feel there was no reason for the teachers to work for almost two school years without a contract."
Other challengers have cited a strained community relationship as the reason for throwing their hat into local school politics.
Bowman, Ponga and Salvo appear to agree on most issues, each citing the board decision to dissolve community committees and move to a committee of the whole format as the biggest disappointment of the last year, and instituting Early Childhood Education as its greatest accomplishment.
Salvo wants to work to restore employee morale.
"What [used] to be a top-ranked energetic school has segregated to teachers vs. administration," Salvo said in the Northwest Herald's candidate questionnaire.
Barker says she wants to engage the community in board decisions.
"Without community involvement through committees, there are no checks and balances," she said. "We should work with complete transparency so everyone knows what our tax dollars are being used for."
"The [Committee of the Whole] platform pushed the taxpayers away from the school. Without community committees, there are no checks and balances; the board discusses issues at the [Committee of the Whole] meetings and then makes recommendations to themselves at their regular meetings," she said. "As a public body, we must reinstate community committees and work toward complete transparency."
Bowman wants to rein in expenses.
"I am interested in restoring District 46 to it’s earlier pre-eminence in the county," he said. "I want to determine why one of the smallest districts repeatedly and consistently posts the largest administrative cost per pupil."
Long-range planning would be a goal for Domoto.
"As our buildings age, we need to make sure that they are safe, and that we have a plan for improvements and repairs that can be implemented within our current financial parameters, without asking our taxpayers for additional funds," she said.
If re-elected, Kremer would push for more rigorous standards for the district's highest achievers.
"While we have accomplished excellent results by aligning and strengthening the curriculum across all grades, I believe we are not doing enough for the top 20 [percent] to 25 percent of our student population. These students need more academic rigor and opportunities."
Voters will select four candidates on April 9.
District 46 candidates
Laura Domoto (i)
Charlotte Kremer (i)
Voters will selected four candidates for four-year terms.