Lisa Gaynor has been going to Riverside Elementary School District 96 board meetings for three years now in her capacity as the president of the Blythe Park School Parent Teacher Association (PTA).
And until at least May 2013 she’ll still be going to school board meetings. But instead of sitting in the audience, she’ll be in the front of the room sitting at the board table.
Last week the District 96 school board voted unanimously to appoint Gaynor to the school board to fill out the term of Mary Stimming, who resigned in August because she will be moving to Georgia.
Art Perry was unanimously selected to replace Stimming as board vice president.
District 96 school board President Mary Ellen Meindl said that Gaynor’s experience and knowledge of the district gave her the edge over the six other applicants for the vacancy.
“We wanted to add a board member who could hit the ground running,” Meindl said. “We had some good candidates. The single thing that Lisa Gaynor had, which was the most important quality that I believe we all agreed on, is that she is so familiar with our district from her involvement with the Blythe Park PTA to her participation on board committees.”
Gaynor is serves as the co-chair of the district’s global communications committee and previously served on a communications committee and a space utilization committee.
A lifelong resident of Riverside, Gaynor attended Blythe Park School, Hauser Junior High and Riverside-Brookfield High School. She has three children, two of whom attend Blythe Park. One goes to Hauser.
She becomes the only current District 96 school board member whose kids who attend Blythe Park, although board member Nancy Jensen’s children attended Blythe Park when they were in grade school.
Gaynor says that she sees service on the school board as a logical continuation of her work in the PTA.
“I’m a big believer in education and the power it has in children’s lives,” Gaynor said. “That’s probably why I’m PTA president. I believe you can enhance education through PTA and bring kids enrichment to the program that they currently have. So that was an important thing to me – to be able to do that. And I guess I kind of see the school board as just one more step in that.”
Gaynor plans to remain the Blythe Park PTA president and says she doesn’t see a conflict between her role as PTA president of a single school and her role as a board member.
“I plan, at this moment, to stay on as PTA president,” Gaynor said. “If there are issues that are school-related we’ll have to have another board member of the PTA represent Blythe Park.”
Meindl, who was the president of the Central School PTO when she was elected to the school board, said that she trusts that Gaynor can keep the two roles separate.
“She gets it,” Meindl said. “She gets what our role should be. Having been a PTO president, I know the difference between the roles, and I know she knows the difference between the roles. I think she can do both. I don’t think it’s a conflict unless she thinks it’s a conflict.”
Perry, whose wife Jennifer is the president of Hollywood School PTA, said that while a school board member and a PTA president have different roles, he thinks Gaynor can handle the role of a board member.
“I like Lisa Gaynor,” Perry said. “I think she’s a great person, so I don’t really have concerns. The PTA president has a particular role to advocate for her school. She’s going to have to balance all the hats on her head. … I’m excited she’s on the board and I think she has a huge contribution to make.”
Meindl said the board did not interview any of the seven applicants for the vacancy. Instead, they judged the candidates based on their applications and what board members knew about them. On Monday the Landmark filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking to find out who the other applicants for the vacancy were. District 96 did not respond to the request prior to the Landmark’s deadline Tuesday morning.
Gaynor’s term will expire in May of 2013.