Less than two years ago, Marge Hubacek was the secretary to the superintendent of Lyons School District 103. Now she is the school board president, in some sense the superintendent’s boss, and a new majority controls the school board.
Hubacek, along with newcomer Shannon Johnson and incumbent Sharon Anderson, was sworn in for four-year terms as members of the District 103 Board of Education at a special meeting held in the multipurpose room at George Washington Middle School in Lyons on April 27.
Minutes later, Hubacek was elected board president by a 6 to 1 vote, with Jorge Torres casting the only vote against her.
Torres had nominated longtime board member Joanne Schaeffer, with whom he had often tangled with over the past two years, for board president. But Schaeffer’s nomination was voted down by a 4 to 3 vote, with Schaeffer casting the decisive vote against herself.
Voting for Schaeffer were the three remaining board members who were elected with the support of Lyons Village President Christopher Getty: Torres, Michael Bennett and Coleen Shipbaugh.
“If I was president and I dropped dead or something we’ve got a problem,” said the 77-year-old Schaeffer. “Besides, I can talk more out at the table than when I was president. I’m happy. It’s worked out. It’s been a long two years.”
Schaeffer said she thought Hubacek was the best choice for president even though Hubacek is just joining the school board. Hubacek knows the inner workings of the district, Schaeffer said.
“[Hubacek] worked in that central office for 10 years,” Schaeffer said. “She knows where stuff is or should be and how it should be done, so nobody can pull the wool over her eyes.”
Hubacek worked as a secretary in the district for 33 years, her last 10 as secretary to the superintendent before retiring in September of 2015. She said she was honored and humbled by being selected as board president.
“I love this district. I live here, my son went to school here,” said the 68-year-old Hubacek. “We moved to Forest View because of the district. We stayed because of the district, and so I’m committed to it.”
Hubacek retired after the Getty-backed board members took control of the district and began bringing in new administrators and a new secretary for Hubacek to train.
“As far as I was concerned, it was blatant patronage hiring and I couldn’t be part of that, so I left,” Hubacek said.
Hubacek is very popular with teachers in the district, several of whom congratulated her after the meeting.
Her one-time boss, former District 103 superintendent Michael Warner, thinks Hubacek was the right choice.
“She is going to do a great job,” Warner said. “She knows everybody in the district and I think that’s going to make her job a little easier. She is highly organized and very passionate about the school district.”
Anderson, who served as board president from 2013 to 2015, said that she was not interested in being board president again.
“That was definitely not something I wanted,” Anderson said.
Anderson was elected board vice president by a 6 to 1 vote after being nominated by Schaeffer. Anderson cast the only no vote.
“I just always feel weird voting for myself,” Anderson said.
Hubacek said that she hopes the board can move past the bitter divisions of the election campaign and the last two years.
“No more of this 4-3 split, that’s what I’m hoping for,” Hubacek said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. We have some fences to mend, some hurt feelings, a lot of stuff, but that has to be done.”
Hubacek said she couldn’t promise that everything her supporters want, such as the removal of first-year Superintendent Carol Baker, can be done, or done quickly.
“The only thing we can say to people is that we hear you and we’ll do what we can when we can do it, and if we keep the kids first we’ll be OK,” Hubacek said.
Hubacek grew up in Cicero and on the Southwest Side of Chicago and has lived in Forest View for the past 39 years. She is a graduate of Kelly High School and did not attend college. She was the third leading vote-getter in the April election behind Anderson and Johnson.
She said that she wasn’t planning on running for the school board when she retired, but when opponents of the Getty-dominated school board were searching for candidates, Hubacek’s name often came up and she was asked to run.
“Would I have done this on my own, run? No,” Hubacek said. “I was approached, then thought about it and talked to people and the momentum kind of built, and here I am.”