As is common in many elections, the challenging District 96 board candidates criticize the standing board on all of their shortcomings. As a current board member, I would like to do the opposite of that by sharing with the community many of our accomplishments including:
Addressing the former superintendent’s over-compensation and $200,000 in TRS penalties that resulted from such over-compensation;
Exploration of a tax rebate program to bring the overinflated fund balance (obtained at the expense of the taxpayers) to a reasonable level while maintaining a tax levy status relative to the District’s actual and anticipated expenses;
Recording and televising all board and committee meetings;
Replacing two poor-performing law firms with an outstanding law firm, aided by community members with connections to the legal field;
Hiring a well-credentialed and experienced business manager (who was referred by our current law firm), who conducted an in-depth review and correction of our budget, oversight of expenditures and implemented internal control policies;
Exploring lease and property opportunities for space to address the ever-increasing enrollment numbers;
Hiring a new architect and auditor (which had not been replaced in many years) to improve services to board and district as a whole;
Hiring an owner’s representative to oversee and conclude the $25 million renovation project;
Reviewing our residential checks and reporting process to identify non-district residents from attending district schools;
Requesting a facility review to determine ADA accessibility;
Improving the after-school services to include academic support and more structured activities.
Substantive review of administrator spending and oversight.
I also invite all members of the public to watch our board and committee meetings. We ask direct and relevant questions, truly listen to each other and engage in healthy discussions. You will also see that we all conduct ourselves with professionalism, honesty and mutual respect. We are a thriving board.
It is essential to continue building on to the great machine this board has already built and why I strongly support and endorse Juliet Boyd, Dan Hunt, Rob McCormack and Rich Regan for Riverside School District 96.
Each prospective board member not only brings a unique set of skills to the board, they all have the professional and diplomatic demeanor to continue the much-needed change and reform this board has already started. Most importantly, Juliet Boyd, Dan Hunt, Rob McCormack and Rich Regan possess the same fundamental goal: improving the education experience for all students in Riverside School District 96.
Rachel Marrello is the vice president of the District 96 school board.
This letter has been changed at the request of the author to reflect the fact that she is speaking for herself and not the District 96 Board of Education in endorsing candidates in the April 7 election.