Throughout at least the past decade, Brookfield-LaGrange Park has been known for generally good governance, improving academic performance and, more recently, its rapidly growing student population.
The school board has also been a relatively stable group of people, who don’t push personal agendas and who take the job of governing seriously, as advocates for education but also taxpayers.
In the next few years, this board is going to be tested. The explosion in enrollment has put the district on the verge of a very big decision — whether or not to acquire land and build a new school, one that looks like it might serve as a pre-K and full-day kindergarten center for the district.
That would be an expansion of services — more teachers, more administrators, more maintenance personnel, i.e., more money being spent each year. Add to that the cost of constructing such a building, and you’re talking some real dollars that taxpayers will be providing.
The four candidates for the three open seats on the District 95 board largely hold the same positions on this issue. They’d like to see a new facility. The candidates also hold similar views on other issues, from supporting the idea of full-day kindergarten (if it can be accommodated), to expanding the district foreign language program.
Our choices for the board are longtime incumbents Lynn Waterloo and John LaBarbera along with newcomer Brian Pencak.
Waterloo and LaBarbera have been part of the boards that helped craft, along with the teachers’ union, one of fairest teachers’ contracts we’ve ever seen produced. It’s one that rewards teachers for pursuing post-graduate education and awards raises on an annual basis, based on the rate of inflation. It’s also remarkably fair to taxpayers and sustainable.
They’ve been through one major school expansion/renovation project before and know what the pit falls and opportunities are. They are also serious about the district’s efforts to improve its curriculum and student achievement.
We’re choosing Pencak over Karen Winslow, a high school English teacher, for his experience as an architect — a school architect — during a time in which the board will be wrestling with this issue of whether to build a new school and how to approach that subject. His familiarity with the process and with architectural firms and contractors will be valuable as the board begins that effort.