The Examiner U-46 News Feed
Search to fill board seat down to 10 in Dist. U-46
By Seth Hancock
The Board of Education in School District U-46 interviewed 10 candidates to fill a vacant board seat over two days on Thursday, May 17 and Friday, May 18.
In total, 17 people applied for the vacancy and Donna Smith, the board’s president, said “we had to narrow it down” to the 10. The board held a closed session meeting on Monday, May 14 to determine who would be interviewed and determine the questions to be asked.
Smith said that candidates were given 20 minutes in their interviews and board members asked five questions on their experiences with U-46, their views on school choice and charter schools, how they would reach out to the public to hear from disparate voices, their professional and personal experiences that would help on the board and each candidate was given what the board called a “wild card” question.
The board has a deadline of June 7 to appoint a candidate making its June 4 meeting as the likely date the candidate will be chosen and voted upon. The candidate will fill the spot for the remainder of Traci Ellis’ term, who resigned from the spot in April which expires in April 2019.
The five candidates in order of their interviews on Thursday included Eva Porter (retired teacher in SD 54 in Schaumburg as well as U-46) of Hanover Park, Lisa Klimek (rate billing supervisor with CST) of Streamwood, Preet Mittal (environmental specialist with Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago) of Bartlett, John Devereux (chief actuary with Ryan Specialty Group) of Bartlett and Kevin Sweeney (programmer/analyst with Deutsche Investment Managements Americas) of Elgin.
On Friday, the five candidates in order of their interviews included Thomas Ashton (director of eastern region sales with Walsworth Publishing) of Wayne, Cecilia Diaz (works for H&R Block) of Elgin, Nazneen Hashmi (adjunct professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology) of Streamwood, Kate Thommes (adjunct faculty at Elgin Community College) of Elgin and Jocelyn Vana (budget and procurement manager with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority) of Bartlett.
At the conclusion of the interviews, candidates were able to ask the board questions during any remaining time from the 20 minutes, and some board members did discuss how they determined who would be interviewed and what qualifications they are looking for in response to a question from Ashton.
Smith said there was not “one answer” because “we are seven different people with seven different experiences, and hopefully when you blend them together we come up with meeting the needs of more than less.”
“I think all of us together, we could say that we look for somebody who’s passionate about kids, who’s looking to better public education and find new ways,” Smith added.
Board member Phil Costello said “I look for someone who’s got a business perspective” and someone who is looking to be “fiscally responsible” with the taxpayers’ money.
Costello added he agreed with Smith that the candidate’s passion for education is important, but “it’s got to be fiscally sound before we go forward.”
Board member Jeanette Ward said the first thing she looked for was “can the person write” in the letter of interest, and does the candidate “understand the issues.”
Board member Veronica Noland said: “We each have our different characteristics that we’re looking for. Some were the same, some were very different, and we went around the table and really came to agreements on who we could decide not to interview and who were our top ones. Really, it was a cross section of all six of us.”
Board member Melissa Owens said she was looking for someone “that has a broad range of experiences.” She said the board will be focused on goal setting in the near future and she wants “somebody who can be a team player in that.”
Ward added: “I’m looking for a more collaborative relationship than has existed before. I’m hopeful that we can come to that with the new board member.”
Ellis was often combative with Ward and often personally attacked and maligned her as well as members of the public who she disagreed with.
Smith said that as the process goes forward “we can consider having another interview” round with a whittled down list of candidates, but nothing has been determined yet.