As filing for McHenry County school board elections wraps up, candidates share priorities, concerns

Several school districts have more than half of school board on ballot this coming April

Laurie Parman, of Sleepy Hollow, running for Algonquin-based Community School District 300's school board, delivers her candidate paperwork on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022, the first day area school board candidates could file for the April election, the McHenry County Administration Building in Woodstock.

More than a hundred candidates across 19 school districts have filed to run for school board in the past week across McHenry County, meaning a dozen districts can expect to see competitive races heading into April.

Monday marked the last day to file for school board races, with many candidates voicing concerns about the direction their school districts were taking.

Some of those concerns included infrastructure, taxes, programming, inclusivity, curriculum centered around sexual education, and the banning of books.

McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio said on Monday the number of people filing this year is less than it was in 2019, when 130 people filed, but more than 2015, when 73 people filed.

Residents of a few districts will have a wide field to choose from come April.

Community School District 300, which includes all or part of Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Carpentersville and West Dundee, had eight candidates file for four seats. Huntley School District 158 saw nine file for three four-year seats and three for one two-year term.

Crystal Lake School District 47, which saw a crowded field two years ago as well, had eight people file for three four-year seats and two filed for one two-year seat.

Emily Smith, an incumbent for District 47, stressed that the role of the school board member is a nonpartisan one. She doesn’t have any particular issue she’s focused on and in general wants to strengthen the health of the district and its students, she said.

In McHenry High School District 156, five candidates are competing for three seats.

Dawn Bremer, an incumbent on District 156′s school board, filed last week and is seeking a third term. Bremer said the district has “done quite a bit already,” including a recent referendum from 2018 that saw voters approve $44 million to renovate the district’s two schools.

Harvard School District 50 member Sandra Theriault, right, waits in line on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022, the first day area school board candidates could file for the April election, at the McHenry County Administration Building in Woodstock.

Her focus, if reelected, will be continuing to bolster curriculum and enhancing the district’s new Center for Science, Technology, and Industry.

For those challenging for the first time, Bremer said she isn’t sure what issues might come up throughout the election cycle. She just hopes those running are knowledgeable and coming “without a personal agenda.”

“The students and the constituents are our focus,” she said.

Some newer faces running for the first time, including Loraine Perry in Cary School District 26 where candidates are vying for three spots, said they worried about programming in their districts. Perry pointed specifically to the district’s dual language and special education programs.

“It feels like they’ve gone downhill,” she said. “They’ve had a lot of turnover.”

District 26 will have three seats up for grabs this April, with six people filed.

Jennifer Rogulic, who is running for the first time in Prairie Grove School District 46, said she supports what the current board and district have done and wants to be a part of it.

Rogulic also pointed to a recent effort to help expand parts of the district through a referendum, which the community didn’t rally around, she said. She hopes to help the district find other ways to fund those changes.

Candidates Kristina Konstanty, center, running for the Community School District 300 school board, and Dawn Holian, right, running for Richmond-Burton High School District 157 board, wait in line on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022, the first day area school board candidates could file for the April election, at the McHenry County Administration Building in Woodstock.

“Our district is growing,” she said. “I think that would be a great opportunity.”

District 46 will have five total seats available, including three full terms and two two-year terms. Six total candidates have filed for those seats.

Seven of the 19 districts will not have competitive races with some not even garnering enough candidates to fill all the openings.

Not enough candidates filed for the two-year terms on the Harvard School District 50 board, which will have three partial terms on the ballot in addition to the usual three four-year seats. Richmond-Burton Community High School District 157 also has six seats up this spring – three four-year and three two-year terms – and it also failed to garner enough candidates.

The election will take place on April 4, and, in addition to school boards, will include seats on village boards, city councils, and fire protection, library and park boards.

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