After meeting in closed session for more than five hours on Sept. 30, the Riverside School District 96 Board of Education voted unanimously to appoint Juliet Boyd and Rich Regan to the board.
The vote brings the D96 board up to its full complement of seven members. In August, Lisa Gaynor and David Kodama resigned suddenly from the board, leaving the vacancies.
Boyd and Regan were sworn in during a special meeting Tuesday, prior to a scheduled meeting of the board’s education committee. They will serve until next spring, when both seats will be up for election.
A total of four seats on the board will be contested on April 7, 2015. Three will be four-year terms, while the fourth will be a two-year stint to complete Gaynor’s unexpired term.
“I think we have a strong board, and I like to think we picked people compatible and able to work with the other board members,” said Mary Rose Mangia, president of the D96 school board. “To a person, they are supportive of the work of the board going forward.”
The five board members who remained after the August resignations interviewed six candidates for the two open spots on Tuesday. Each candidate was given about a half hour with the board. Those not chosen by the board on Tuesday included Alan Hu, Dan Hunt, Robert McCormack and Jason Zak.
Mangia said that while each board member’s top three or four candidates differed somewhat, Boyd and Regan were among everyone’s top choices.
“I’d say it was consensus,” said Mangia. “These two were in the mix for everybody.”
Board member Art Perry agreed with Mangia’s assessment of the board’s consensus and expressed confidence in the group working together in the future. The first full meeting of the board will be the education committee meeting on the night the new members are sworn in. Perry is chairman of that committee.
“I’m happy with where we are,” said Perry. “I hope we can get back on track and move forward.”
Boyd, a native of South Africa, is an attorney who handles civil matters, such as contract disputes, real estate and construction law. She is also the past chairwoman of the International and Immigration Law Section Council of the Illinois Bar Association.
In District 96, she was a member of the instructional time committee formed last spring to study the early release program. That involvement was important, said Mangia.
“That proved she wanted to get involved by being involved already,” said Mangia.
Boyd said she wants to help the board refocus on its main duty, which is providing the district’s children with a top-notch educational experience.
“My priority is getting the focus back on education,” said Boyd. “The impetus that led me to submit my application was seeing statistics on how the district’s performance has slipped.”
With one child enrolled in the district and another on the way, Boyd said she wanted those numbers improved.
“I think that’s the focus here,” she said. “If we move forward together, we can get the focus back on the kids.”
Regan has been director of facilities at the Lyric Opera of Chicago for eight years and was general manager of the Auditorium Theatre for seven years prior to that. Part of his job involves managing four collective bargaining units at the Lyric Opera. With the school board entering into contract negotiations with the teachers union, that experience was attractive, according to Mangia.
“He’d be cool under pressure on that,” said Mangia. “I think he’ll be actively considered for a role on that committee.”
Regan made it a point to contact and talk with each remaining board member after throwing his hat into the ring to gain a better sense of what his prospective colleagues were all about.
“I wanted insight into what their personalities were and their goals for the district,” said Regan. “I think the continuity between all of the board members is that they care a great deal about not just the school district but the community.”
Asked what he hoped to contribute as a member of the board, Regan said he wants to focus on “educational excellence, good governance and accountability.”
As for whether Regan and Boyd will use this experience as a launching pad for an election run next year, that’s certainly possible.
“Let’s see how it goes now,” said Boyd. “Hopefully, if I can make a difference, it might be something I might do.”
Regan also said that while next spring is on his radar, “I should probably get that first board meeting under my belt before I start talking about four more years of board meetings.”