Unlike two years ago, the race for the Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 school board next spring could be a sleepy affair.
All four incumbents on the school board whose terms are expiring this spring are running for re-election and with the filing period ending on Dec. 22, it is not clear if there will be any challengers.
Incumbents Garry Gryczan and John Keen filed their nominating petitions on Monday. The two other incumbents, Laura Hruska and Tim Walsh, told the Landmark they are also running for another term.
“That’s an area that I can contribute to,” said Hruska, who is running for her third term.
Hruska was first elected to the board in 2005. She was defeated when she ran for re-election in 2009, but won when she ran in 2011.
After the 2011 election, there were some tense moments as Hruska and Walsh sometimes clashed with school board President Matt Sinde and a board majority aligned with him. But relations among board members have improved over the past four years and members have typically agreed on important issues.
Hruska acknowledged the rocky start.
“I think that sometimes Matt Sinde doesn’t allow the discussion to play out, and I think that is probably just a style thing,” Hruska said. “And, yes, when we all came on it was very volatile. We had a new superintendent, the budget was in the red; we had all kinds of issues. We had a contract that we needed to create so we’ve come a long way in four years.”
Hruska said that the early arguments allowed board members to get to know each other and learn to respect each other’s opinions.
“People are always afraid of the disagreement, but that was healthy for us to talk through and really hash everything out in order for us to get where we’re at now,” Hruska said. “I definitely think we have learned in four years to work with each other, and we can value what everybody brings to the board.”
Walsh is the board member who is most likely to question things and ask about details. He examines the district’s bill list with an eagle eye and typically has questions about the some of the payments.
Gryczan is known for his financial acumen, while Keen is not reluctant to express his opinions. They both have emphasized the need for the district to live within its means.
Keen and Gryczan ran as a team four years ago and were backed by longtime District 208 activists Jerry Buttimer and Chris Robling, who supported also supported the victorious Sinde, Mike Welch and Ed Jepson two years ago.
Keen said he is running to finish the job he was elected to do four years ago.
“I want to maintain the progress that we’ve made for the last four years,” Keen said.
This year a plan to build a new parking lot and move the tennis courts to a field next to Hollywood School has generated vocal and intense opposition among many residents who live near the school, but as of yet no one has announced plans to challenge the incumbents.
Some parents grumble about large class sizes and feel that the current school board is more concerned about athletics than academics, but so far it is not yet apparent that the grumbling will result in a school board candidacy.
Candidates have until 5 p.m. on Dec. 22 to file nominating papers.