This year I served on the District 109 caucus. I generally knew what the caucus did, but I did not know the level of detail with which they vetted the candidates. Overall, I believe it was an excellent exercise and was very happy at both the quantity and quality of candidates that came before us. The four chosen candidates represent an excellent cross section of experience both in their careers as well as their contributions to the schools. There will be a candidate forum on Thursday, March 14, 8pm at the Patty Turner Center, directly following the Village Board forum.
Detailed profiles of the candidates can be found here, but I would like to say a few words about each of them.
Katie Bittner has a background in special education and is currently an administrator in the Waukegan public school district. She has communicated with every stakeholder group in the district including parents, students, teachers, administrators, and community members. She has an outstanding grasp of the strengths and weaknesses of the district. I have long felt that the board needs someone who understands the inner workings of a modern school system and Katie is the right person for the job.
I first met Scott Kluge about two years ago when we served on the Strategic Plan team. Scott is a strategic consultant and he brings that big picture focus to the table, but he also has a keen interest in the details. I particularly like his ideas on providing each parent with better feedback on their student’s performance. A report card is simply not enough. Scott attends just about every meeting the district holds so he will hit the ground running.
Sari Montgomery has also been extremely involved in the school system over the last several years. She is well versed in all aspects of the district’s education services, including gifted education, special education, and differentiation in the regular curriculum. An attorney by trade, her focus is on ethics.
Ron Worth was appointed to the Board approximately two years ago. He has a PhD in engineering and runs a high tech firm in Deerfield. Ron’s focus is on improving the science and mathematics education our district provides as well as ensuring our children are prepared for the increased number of high tech jobs that will be available when they graduate college. He advocates better coordination between the middle schools and DHS, and would like to see more engineering concepts taught at the middle school level. I think that’s right on target.
There is a fifth candidate on the ballot this April. He also appeared before the caucus, however I feel that he does not meet the minimum requirements to be a board member.
I highly encourage you to meet these four outstanding people if you don’t already know them. This is an exciting time in District 109. The new board along with a new superintendent will be working towards returning the district to a world class level. There’s work to be done, but open collaboration with all stakeholders is the key, and these are the right people for the job.