An inexperienced school board in Riverside Elementary School District 96 is about to get more inexperienced as the two longest-serving members of the school board have both decided not to seek reelection next spring.
Michael O’Brien and Art Perry, who were both elected to the school board in 2011, have decided that one term is enough.
Perry, who ran unsuccessfully in 2009 before being elected in 2011, said that the travel demands of a new job and the fact that his youngest child is now in seventh grade contributed to his decision not to run for a second term.
“I feel like I’ve been involved for a long time,” Perry said. “I’m traveling more for my job and more things are going on with the family. It’s making the time commitment for the school board a bit of a challenge for me.”
O’Brien also decided not to run for a second term on the school board.
“I feel four years has been enough,” O’Brien said in an email to the Landmark.
O’Brien complimented three new candidates whose election in 2013 shook up the leadership of the school board. He said the additions of Rich Regan and Juliet Boyd, who replaced Lisa Gaynor and David Kodama after the pair had resigned, settled down a board where members often seemed at odds.
“I have been quite pleased with the direction of the current school board,” O’Brien said. “The addition of Rich Regan and Juliet Boyd has made the board more cohesive and has brought a renewed focus on what is right for students and taxpayers for District 96. I have enjoyed working with Mary Rose Mangia, Rachel Marrello and Randy Brockway and know that their commitment for the next two years will serve all stakeholders well.”
Four seats are up in the April 2015 school board election — three full four-year terms and the remaining two years of Gaynor’s term. With less than two weeks left before the Dec. 22 filing deadline, five candidates have emerged thus far.
Boyd and Regan, both of whom have made a favorable impression with most during their short time on the school board, will be running on a slate with Dan Hunt, who also applied to serve on the school board after the resignations of Gaynor and Kodama.
Hunt, who has lived in Riverside for two years, is a project manager for Thomson Reuters, has a strong background in technology and is the parent of a Hauser seventh-grader and a Central School fourth-grader. He has an MBA from DePaul and a bachelor’s degree from University of West Virginia
“I would like to provide some true and real oversight as part of the board,” Hunt said. “I’d like to part of an effective board that … provides true and effective oversight, but at the same time [is] not looking to micromanage or get involved in the day-to-day business of the district.”
The other two people planning to run, Lynda Carey Murphy and Shari Klyber, also applied to serve on the school board after Gaynor and Kodama resigned. Unlike Hunt, Carey Murphy and Klyber were not interviewed by the school board after they applied to serve.
Carey Murphy is in her third year as the co-president of the Central School Parent Teacher Organization. She has a master’s degree in sociology from University of Illinois-Chicago and sees serving on the school board as a natural extension of her involvement in the schools.
“I just think I have things to offer, because I’ve been involved in the schools and I am really interested in seeing a bigger partnership between the administration and the school board,” said Carey Murphy, who added that she is running an independent campaign.
“I’m not a big believer is slates for non-partisan positions,” she said.
Klyber is a former science teacher at Elmwood Park High School. She has lived in Riverside for 13 years and has two daughters, one of whom is a fourth-grader at Central School. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Illinois and teaches dance to children at Principle Dance, a Forest Park-based business.
“I am running because I believe that my background and experience in education and science will allow me to make valuable contributions to the board,” Klyber said in an email. “I hope to promote effective communication, quality instruction, and positive outcomes for the students of District 96 and the community as a whole.”
After the election there will be no member of the school board who has been on the board for more than two years.
But Perry said that school board experience can be a mixed blessing.
“Yes people who have experience know lots of stuff and they’ve been around and they certainly know all the rules and procedures and all that sort of statutory stuff and all that’s great,” Perry said.
“On the other hand I do think it kind of brings a little bit of tunnel vision, not looking at things sort of skeptically and carefully. … I hope they work well with the superintendent and they work efficiently, sort of the idea of everybody pulling in the same direction is what I’m hoping for. And that’s more important than having a lot of experience.”