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U-46 board member will not seek reelection


By Seth Hancock
  Phil Costello will not be seeking a second term to the Board of Education in School District U-46.
  Costello made the announcement at a recent board meeting on Monday, Nov. 19. He was elected to the board in 2015, and his seat is one of four up in 2019.
  Along with Costello, board members Sue Kerr’s and Jeanette Ward’s as well as John Devereux’s, who is filling the remainder of Traci Ellis’ seat after she vacated it in April, seats will be up in 2019. Ward, via social media, has declared her intention to seek reelection.
  Costello said his reason for not seeking reelection was the same reason he sought a board seat in 2015 which was “representing the district’s taxpayers.”
  “I firmly believe the taxpayers who invest over $500 million in our budget expect and deserve an education system that delivers quality education, program opportunities for all students and one that delivers measurable impact, and this is the most important part, measurable impact on the communities we serve,” Costello said.
  Costello added that he will “remain focused on the district’s business, but I will also attempt to engage the broader community not heard in this board room” through the remainder of his term. He said he plans to host town hall meetings and speak with other elected officials from different governing bodies.
  Further elaborating, Costello wrote in a release: “The District should be open to a wide range of citizens seeking to better their lives and entice commercial interests to invest in locating their businesses within the District. We must evaluate progress (or lack thereof) in long-term results that change lives and offer a better future.”
  In his remaining months on the board, Costello wrote that he will advocate for some changes including to the agenda and board meetings.
  The board’s leadership should give every board member a say in the construction of the agenda and develop “agendas that focus on listening to the public and government as a dialogue rather than a perfunctory formality,” Costello wrote. He has in the past implied that the administration sets the agenda rather than the elected board.
  Costello suggested the board add to the end of each meeting a question and answer portion for the public and media to create a dialogue. Currently, board meetings do include a public comment portion, but the board and administration are not supposed to engage the speakers.
  Last year when the State of Illinois Charter Commission granted the Elgin Math and Science Academy charter in U-46, its board members summarized their reasons for their votes, both for and against, which is a practice Costello would like to see on the U-46 board as it “avoids members passively acquiescing to Administration’s directives.”
  Costello would also like the board to seek long-term, socio-economic trends from population to the number of businesses among other data points which will help answer if U-46 is “headed in the right direction.”
  “Understand that higher taxes and larger budgets do not serve the public’s interests,” Costello wrote and added: “Decentralize Administration’s central control to empower local school administrators who have demonstrated high levels of innovation, targeted performance, and local transparency including charter schools, and take deliberate action to remediate underperforming schools and departments that face declining student census, student achievement, and/or operational inefficiencies.”
  Costello also encouraged the public to get informed and engaged on the issues when choosing who to vote for in the upcoming election.
  “In the end, any initiative that the Board takes to accept status quo or advance innovative paths toward local control, budget accountability, and transparency to taxpayers is limited to the courage and creativity of the sitting Board members…. Keep in mind that the taxes you pay to support U-46 are likely the second or third highest expense in your household budget and poised to grow,” Costello wrote.

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