When voters in Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 go to the polls in April 2013, there’s a good bet they won’t be familiar with many names on the ballot.
With the resignation of one newer board member earlier this month, five of the school board’s seats will be up for grabs next spring. Three of those seats are currently held by board members who have helped guide the district for a decade or more.
At least two of those board members – President James Landahl and Vice President Chuck Snyder – confirmed last week that they will not seek re-election next spring. A third, John LaBarbera, said he hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll seek a third full term on the board.
Pat Speziale, who was appointed to the school board in 2007 and won election to the board two years later, will also have to decide whether he wants to run again. Attempts to reach Speziale by phone and email were unsuccessful.
The fifth position up for election in April is the unexpired term of Doris Stanek, who was elected to the board in 2011 and resigned Aug. 20.
Landahl and Snyder joined the school board together in 2001, winning as write-in candidates. They since have run successfully for re-election twice. Landahl has been president of the school board since 2005.
“I’m coming to the end of my tenure,” said Landahl. “Twelve years has been a good run.”
Snyder’s reason for bowing out was similar.
“I’ve spent three terms with District 95, and I think I’m done for now,” said Snyder. “I’m looking at what it’s going to be post-District 95.”
Snyder’s son graduated from S.E. Gross Middle School in June and is now a freshman at Riverside-Brookfield High School.
LaBarbera was appointed to the school board twice before running for election for his first full term in 2005. He has served as vice president and was a member of the board committee that in 2010 negotiated a landmark teachers’ contract, which eliminated step raises and tied base-wage raises to economic indicators.
“I’ve given it some thought,” said LaBarbera of the 2013 election. “I’ve still not come to a decision.”
LaBarbera said the board is about to embark on initiatives related to curriculum and grading policy and K-8 foreign language instruction, issues he’s particularly interested in.
“I hope we leave a good enough road map on those even if I don’t run,” LaBarbera said.
Snyder, Landahl and LaBarbera no longer have children in District 95 schools, but all three got to see their children grow up along with the district itself during those three terms on the board.
District 95 has undergone significant changes since 2001 in terms of both academic performance and the school buildings themselves.
The three have worked with three superintendents, hired four principals and were part of a board that launched a building campaign in 2007 and 2008. A classroom/multipurpose room addition was built at Brook Park School, while S.E. Gross Middle School received a top-to-bottom update that included new science labs, a new library, computer labs, administrative offices and an expanded cafeteria.
The board also oversaw a successful property tax referendum in 2006. In addition, the school district’s standardized test scores have steadily improved since 2001. In the past two years, more than 90 percent of the district’s students have met state standards in reading and math.
“Academic achievement, the facilities, fiscal responsibility – we’ve touched them all,” said Snyder.