Updated Nov. 13, 2012 – 2:55 p.m.
Two of the three incumbents on the Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 board have decided to run for another term next year.
District 208 board President Matt Sinde and board member Mike Welch announced Friday that they will be seeking another term on the school board. Dan Moon is stepping down after one term on the school board. Moon, Sinde and Welch were elected in 2009 running after running together as part of a slate that they called the SWiM team.
Joining Sinde and Welch on a slate this time around will be Riverside resident Ed Jepson.
Jepson is a partner in the Chicago-based law firm Vedder Price, where he has worked since his 1980 graduation from Harvard Law School. He practices labor and employment law at Vedder Price, which is known for its aggressive representation of management. Jepson currently has a son who attends RBHS.
In a press release Jepson said that he was asked by numerous friends to consider running for the school board.
“It was flattering,” Jepson said in the release. “I have researched the school, attended board meetings and spoken with current and past board members. After all these steps, I decided to run as a non-political professional who wants to help the district in its next chapter.”
In the press release Jepson said that before deciding to run he spoke with Sinde, Welch and Moon; current school board members Garry Gryczan and Tim Walsh; former District 208 school board President Jim Marciniak; and former District 208 board member and former Riverside Village President Paul Stack.
Moon said that he decided not to seek another term because of professional and personal reasons. Moon said he is supporting Jepson, Sinde and Welch.
“Ed would arrive at a time when his skills would be a terrific asset to the board and, therefore, I heartily endorse the Jepson, Sinde and Welch team,” Moon said in the press release. “Serving the RB community is an honor, and while it has, at times, been challenging, it has been gratifying.”
Jepson’s legal experience in labor matters could prove useful as a school board member.
The existing contract with RBHS teachers and other unionized staff expires next year, and contract negotiations will be a focus for the school board. The defeat of a referendum in 2011 has forced to cut staff and has resulted in increased class sizes.
It is clear from the press release that Jepson, Sinde and Welch will campaign on a platform of fiscal responsibility.
“Our achievements include tossing the inherited 2011-12 budget that planned a $1.6 million deficit, starting over with new Superintendent Kevin Skinkis, and ending 2012 with a $300,000 surplus,” Sinde said. “The community told us to roll up our sleeves when they defeated the 2011 education fund tax hike with almost 77 percent voting against it. We got the message and acted.”
In the press release Welch strongly suggested that he would not favor going to the voters with another tax referendum until a new contract with the teachers is worked out.
“We are trying to restore integrity at RB, just as Hazard, Young and Attea said we must as part of its superintendent and principal searches,” Welch said. “That means what we say, we do. … We will not return to the voters for more money until costs are clearly and dependably under control.”
The team of Jepson, Sinde and Welch will have competition. So far one other candidate has declared his intention to run, but other candidates are likely to emerge before the Dec. 24 filing deadline.
Chuck Snyder, a 12-year member of the Brookfield-LaGrange Park Elementary District 95 school board also confirmed last week that he will be running for a seat on the District 208 school board in April.
“I think I have some experiences that can continue to help RB push forward academically, fiscally and want to contribute to that,” said Snyder in an interview on Friday. “Right now, I think it’s about building relationships with the staff. … We have to have great communication with the community. We need to build relationships and just be open and transparent in our governance.”
Snyder, 44, is the senior operations officer for North Community Bank and has lived in Brookfield for about 21 years. His son is a freshman at RBHS.
Snyder said that he has participated in many labor negotiations in his time on the District 95 school board, including its last teachers’ contract, which eliminated step increases in salary and tied future raises to the consumer price index.
“At District 95, we were probably one of the first school districts in the state to come to an agreement to tie our teachers’ increases, really the expense side of the house, to our CPI, which is our funding source,” Snyder said.