All three incumbents on the Lyons Township High School District 204 school board whose terms expire next spring are running for re-election. Incumbents Heather Alderman, John Polacek and Arthur “Bill” Sprague will be joined on the April 5, 2011, ballot by Philip Palmer, the co-owner of the popular LaGrange eatery, Palmer Place, in a four candidate race for three seats.
Palmer lives in Western Springs and is a 1979 graduate of LT. He is completing his first term on the LaGrange Highlands Elementary School District 106 board. He has a son who graduated from LT and an eighth-grade daughter who will be attending LT next year.
Palmer said that he has been attending LT school board meetings for some time and is well versed on issues facing LT.
“I’ve been attending all the meeting there for over a year,” Palmer said. “I’ve been attending all the committee meetings for not that long, but for many months.”
Palmer says that he will ready to serve from day one if elected.
“If I’m fortunate enough to be elected, I didn’t want there to be any learning curve,” Palmer said. “I’m ready to go.”
Palmer was not critical of any current board members, and felt his business background and relative youth could be an advantage.
“I really like all the people on the board,” Palmer said. “They’re really nice folks. I think I may have a little bit different, generationally younger perspective.”
Sprague and Polacek, both also LT alumni, have both served on the board since the 1990s.
Sprague, a 1949 graduate of LT and longtime resident of LaGrange, is seeking his fifth term on the District 204 board. He was first elected to the LT board in 1995 two years after retiring from a 25-year teaching career at LT, where he also served as chairman of the school’s social studies department.
“I have a great, great love for the school,” Sprague said. “I went there and my wife did, my children did, my parents did. It’s in my blood. It’s a great school, and I would like to continue working in that environment.”
Polacek, a 1960 LT graduate and a dentist who lives in Indian Head Park, was first elected to the LT school board in 1991 and has served on the board ever since except for two years in the 1990s. Polacek, a former board president and the current vice president, serves as the board’s finance committee chairman.
He says that he enjoys serving his alma mater and wants to continue.
“I want to continue taking care of the finances, and I think academically the school is really going to shine in the next five or 10 years,” Polacek said. “I want to keep doing what I’ve done in the past. It’s a great school and I want to stay there.”
Polacek and other board members said that they could not recall the last time LT had sought an increase in the school tax rate in a referendum and Polacek said that LT’s finances are in good shape.
“I don’t have any memory of one,” Polacek said when asked when LT has had a rate hike referendum. “And our anticipation is that we will not ever need one in the near future. We have zero-based budgeting. You have to justify every expense every year. I put that in in 1991, and we do not deficit spend, at all. It’s good fiscal management. You don’t spend what you don’t have.”
Alderman, of LaGrange, is seeking her second term on the board. In 2007 she spent about $6,000 on her campaign and ousted an incumbent. Prior to being elected to the LT school board, Alderman served two terms on the Western Springs District 102 school board. She is the vice president of advancement and general counsel for Pillars, a community-based mental health and social service organization.
“I’m really committed to education,” Alderman said. “I’ve enjoyed being on the board, and I think LT is an excellent school district. But like any place you can always improve, and we’re working on some exciting initiatives to help our kids achieve, and I want to keep being a part of that.”
Lyons Township High School serves several suburban communities, including the southern half of Brookfield.