Student performance in Woodstock School District 200, teachers, fiscal responsibility mark priorities for leading candidates

All three incumbents in District 200 are currently top vote-getters in race for school board

From top to bottom, incumbents John Headley, Jerry Miceli and Michelle Bidwell are leading in votes for Tuesday's election on April 4, 2023.

All three incumbents for the Woodstock School District 200 Board are expected to hold on to their seats, according to unofficial election results, a sign some said they viewed as affirmation of the district’s direction.

District 200 incumbents John Headley, Jerry Miceli and Michelle Bidwell were leading in total votes in Tuesday’s election, with challenger Gina Willard more than 500 votes behind the group, according to unofficial results Friday.

Wednesday was the last time McHenry County updated its election totals, according to unofficial results. Mail-in ballots, early votes and ballots cast Tuesday are included in the total.

Late-arriving and provisional ballots are not, however, according to the McHenry County Clerk Office’s website. County Clerk Joe Tirio on Wednesday said there still were about 18,000 outstanding ballots.

“If people paid attention and were at school board meetings, I think they would be really happy with the incumbents.”

—  District 200 school board candidate and incumbent Jerry Miceli on unofficial election results

Headley, who at last count was the lead vote-getter by more than 200 votes, said he felt confident he would retain his seat. He said he knows a lot of people in town and wasn’t surprised by the results.

“You never know until it’s counted, but I thought I had a good chance,” he said.

For Headley and Miceli, they said they felt the unofficial results showed the community was happy with the district’s direction. Headley, however, noted the low voter turnout and acknowledged that it’s hard to surmise if that sentiment is true among the community as a whole.

“If people paid attention and were at school board meetings, I think they would be really happy with the incumbents,” Miceli said.

Willard, who ran her first-ever campaign in this election, said the experience came with a learning curve. Looking back, there’s a few things she would have done differently to get her name out there more.

She said she thinks it’s more than likely even with outstanding votes that she won’t end up on the board.

I wish them well. There’s no hard feelings.”

—  District 200 school board candidate Gina Willard on unofficial election results

Despite the run, Willard said she’s not overly concerned with the board’s makeup. She pointed to a few examples dating back to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as masking, that she said she felt the board was wrong on.

However, with no issues like that going on at this point, she said she thinks the board will be fine. She also said that if she felt the need to voice her opinion, she’s comfortable doing so.

“I wish them well,” Willard said. “There’s no hard feelings.”

Going into the new term, Miceli said he wants to address staffing and teacher shortages that could come up, saying it’s a problem nationally. This is similar to what he said during his campaign, but on Friday, he added in bus drivers and paraprofessionals too.

“Those people, they work their butts off and they need to get compensation,” Miceli said. “We’ve got to do right by those people.”

Headley said fiscal responsibility is a focus for him. Throughout the campaign, he pitched some ways to help cut costs such as relying on solar energy, which he views as positive for a few reasons.

“We have to become more responsible stewards of the planet,” Headley said. “This will save us money too.”

Getting student performance up after it has lagged in recent years is a key for Headley and Miceli as well. Both pointed to math scores but also praised new programs the district is launching to help close those gaps.

“We’re really working on it,” Miceli said. “We’re getting there, and I think we’ll get there quicker than most districts.”

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