It appears that only three of seven candidates for the Riverside Brookfield High School District 208 school board will participate in the candidate forum that will be broadcast live tonight at 7:00 p.m. from the RBTV studio. The forum is also expected to be rebroadcast on RBTV at other times

Garry Gryczan and John Keen, who are running together as a team, announced Monday that they would not participate in the candidates’ forum because the forum was going to be closed to the general public.=left>

The RBTV studio doesn’t have space for a studio audience.

“Because we stand for an open participation between the community, board and school, we feel that attending this forum under the current guidelines is not what we stand for and we will not be there” Gryczan and Keen said in a statement e-mailed to the Landmark on Monday.

Candidates Lenora Giurini and Laura Hruska are also not expected to be at the forum. Giurini will be out of town on a business trip, and Laura Hruska will not attend because she oversees a bible study program for children on Wednesday evenings.

Hruska, like Gryczan and Keen, is also not fond of forums without a live audience.

“It’s not a forum,” Hruska said. “I’m not talking to people. There’s no people there. You’re talking at people.”

The candidates who are expected to participate in the forum are Tom Powers, Lou Surprenant and Tim Walsh.

Gryczan said that he e-mailed RBTV director Gary Prokes and asked when and how often the forum would be broadcast, but received no answer.

“I don’t know how many voters are going to hear this, because I don’t know how many times this is going to be broadcast or rebroadcast,” Gryczan said. “That’s kind of the frustrating thing about it.”

At the Feb. 17 District 208 school board meeting Kathie McCroary, a supporter of Gryczan and Keen, said that the forum should be held in a location where people can attend the forum in person and ask questions.

RBTV routinely broadcasts school board meetings held in the Alumni Lounge or the Bill Lehotsky Room. Both locations can accommodate an audience.

McCroary says that she has satellite television which doesn’t carry RBTV. She also raised concerns that many senior citizens would not be able to see the forum on RBTV or access the forum on the Internet.

District 208 school board President James Marciniak responded by saying that the school board and the school had no role in setting up the ground rules of the forum, saying that done by the League of Women Voters.

“The board is not involved in any way in setting up that forum, how it’s conducted, whether it’s open or closed to the public to the public,” Marciniak said. “It’s entirely beyond our control.”

The LaGrange Area League of Women Voters is co-sponsoring seven area candidate forums for seven different races. The District 208 forum is the only one of the seven forums that is closed to the public. It also may be the only forum that will be broadcast on television. The League’s press release announcing the forum listed RBTV as a co-sponsor of the forum. Marciniak and District 208 Interim Superintendent David Bonnette both deny that RBTV is a co-sponsor.

Mary Klonowski, the voter services chair of the LaGrange Area League of Women Voters, said the location of the District 208 forum is the result of the request of a citizen. She would not identify the name of that citizen.

Some have pointed to Prokes as the person who requested and set the ground rules for the forum.

“Mary Klonowski indicated that the forum was set up and the rules were set up by RB and that I should contact Gary Prokes,” Gryczan said.

Jan Goldberg, an RB teacher and member of the League of Women Voters, says that the decision to tape the debate in the RBTV studio is “a Gary Prokes decision” and not a League decision.

“Gary likes to do everything in the studio because the sound quality is better,” said Goldberg, who has talked to Prokes about the forum. “I’m assuming that it’s Gary, but it does seem like everybody’s kind of passing the buck on this.”

Prokes could not be reached for comment for this story.

Klonowski said that the League hosts some forums with live audiences and some without live audiences.

“There are unique advantages to each,” Klonowski said. “It’s really nice to meet the candidates, flesh and blood, and to have the spontaneity of questions from the audience. I like that very much. . . . The advantage of putting it on this other way is that you have advantages that you can air it two, three or four times before the election so they each have the advantages.”

Candidate Tom Powers said that candidates should participate in forums when asked, no matter the format.

“I want to make myself available to the community when asked,” Powers said. “It’s not up to the candidates to try and dictate the format.”