There are five candidates for the four seats up on the LaGrange-Brookfield District 102 school board this spring.
The District 102 Delegate Assembly, a rotating volunteer group that screens and interviews potential school board candidates and then picks a slate, has endorsed a group of candidates that include school board President Brian Anderson and three current or retired professional educators who are making their first runs for the school board.
In addition to Anderson, the Delegate Assembly slate consists of Bessie Emerson Boyd, Leah Werab and Scott Wuggazer.
The other candidate in the race is LaGrange Park resident Jessica Mandra, a multimedia visual designer for William Rainey Harper College.
Mandra also submitted her credentials to the Delegate Assembly and sought their endorsement, but could not make it to the interview with the Delegate Assembly because of a work conflict.
“I was actually here [at Harper College] filming adult students taking classes,” Mandra said. “I was really bummed that that there was no alternative and no flexibility,”
Jennifer Djurasovic, the acting chairwoman of the Delegate Assembly, said that Mandra was offered an alternative means of appearing before the Delegate Assembly.
Anderson, a LaGrange Park resident, is the only incumbent running for re-election this year. Matt Scotty is stepping down after two terms, while Amanda Jandris and Jason Kowalczyk are calling it quits after one term.
Anderson, who works as the vice president for purchasing for Duracell Batteries and also teaches supply chain management and process control at Elmhurst College, said with the district in the third year of a new strategic plan he wants to continue the momentum in the district has built after narrowly passing a referendum in 2016.
“We’ve done a lot of good things for the district, I mean between the referendum and what we’ve done educationally, and I’d like to keep going,” Anderson said.
Boyd, a LaGrange resident, is a retired elementary school principal who now works as a realtor and adjunct professor of education at Olivet Nazarene University and National Lewis University. Boyd grew up in LaGrange and graduated from Congress Park School in Brookfield in 1969, when Congress Park was a K-8 school.
“I want to give back to my community, which has given so much to me,” said Boyd, who earned a doctoral degree in education from Aurora University.
Werab, a LaGrange resident, is a seventh-grade language arts and reading intervention teacher at Churchville Middle School in Elmhurst. She has been a teacher for 19 years and says it would be good to have a teacher on the school board.
“It’s definitely a lens that’s underrepresented on school boards,” Werab said.
Werab, who was a member of the Delegate Assembly four years ago, is the mother of a seventh-grader and a fourth-grader.
“I don’t think there is anything that needs to change,” Werab said. “I think the district is going in the right direction. There is always areas to improve.”
Scott Wuggazer, a LaGrange Park resident, is the assistant superintendent for student services for Community High School District 99, which consists of Downers Grove North and Downers Grove South high schools.
His background is in special education. He formerly served as the director of student services at District 230 in Orland Park and as the chairman of the special services department at Downers Grove North. Wuggazer began his career as special education teacher at Downers Grove South.
Djurasovic said that the Delegate Assembly did not deliberately seek out professional educators for the school board this year.
“We were seeking out candidates who we thought would make the board well-rounded,” Djurasovic said.
She said nine people submitted their credentials to the Delegate Assembly and seven were interviewed.
Mandra, the mother of first grader at Forest Road School, knows it will be an uphill battle challenging the Delegate Assembly’s slate.
“The board should have a diversity of perspectives,” Mandra said. “I think having a first-grader, I offer a fresh perspective.”
She said the district needs to communicate better with parents of children starting school.
“I think there needs to be a big improvement in communicating with the parents and engaging them from the start,” Mandra said.
Although Mandra works in higher education she questioned the wisdom of having too many professional educators on the school board.
“That’s why it’s important to have someone from Forest Road, but also someone who is relatively new to this, because when you’ve navigated the system for years you’re very blindsided,” she said. “You don’t see the hurdles, you don’t see the challenges that people are experiencing.”