The Examiner U-46 News Feed
Four candidates seeking three U-46 board seats
By Seth Hancock
Voters will have to choose between four candidates vying for three seats on the Board of Education in School District U-46 in next week’s consolidated election on Tuesday, April 6.
Incumbents Veronica Noland, of Elgin, and Melissa Owens, of Bartlett, are running for reelection. Donna Smith, of Hanover Park, will be leaving after two decades on the board.
Newcomers LeJewel Crigler, of Elgin, and Dawn Martin, of Bartlett, are also running.
Two candidates, Martin and Noland, showed up for a March 19 candidate forum at Poplar Creek Library in Streamwood.
Martin said she has two children that have been going through the U-46 system, both now at the secondary level, and she chose to run based on the district’s response to COVID-19. She said she was understanding and supportive with the district when it first shutdown last March, but when the new school year began in August, she started having concerns with the academic and mental health struggles students would go through in distance learning.
“I was one of the parents that was at a loss,” Martin said. “My kids were struggling, kids they knew were struggling. At that point, I wasn’t thinking about running for board. I was just thinking about what we can do, how we can support our children.”
Wanting to have a balanced approach to decision making to benefit all stakeholders, Martin said funding will be a key issue going forward and creating a plan for when the district stops using the property tax abatement that doesn’t cause “giant, massive” increases for taxpayers. She also said U-46 is “a very diverse community” and “equity” will be a major issue.
Noland, first elected in 2013, is seeking her third term and has two children, one in U-46 and another in private school. She said she’s “experienced what it was like to have a child in the public schools and the private schools” and “saw the disparities.”
The state’s response to COVID-19 will cause “long effects that we then have to deal with” including “learning loss” for students and financial concerns, which will be key issues going forward.
Owens, first elected in 2017, is seeking her second term. In a candidate bio, she wrote she’s “proud of recent accomplishments… including increasing the number of social workers and counselors in our schools; bringing one-to-one technology to all students; strengthening our career-readiness programs; and protecting taxpayers by abating tax dollars towards our long-term debt.”
Crigler wrote: “I want the children in our district to experience what my daughter has as a homeschooler. This is what motivates me, regardless of all of the adjustments that we’ve all had to make regarding Covid-19; there’s no greater time than now to move forward.”