Three of the four incumbents whose terms on the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education expire next year will run for re-election. The only incumbent who has decided not to run for another term is Jeff Miller, who has served on the school board for six years.
“For me it just seems like the right time,” said Miller, whose youngest child is in eighth grade. “I won’t have any kids in the system anymore. It makes sense to have parents who have younger kids in the system, because they’re going to be more engaged in what’s going on.”
Miller served as board president for his first four years on the school board. His intellect will be missed said fellow board member Joel Marhoul, who described Miller as the smartest person on the board.
“I’m going to miss him,” Marhoul said. “I’ve enjoyed working with him.”
Miller has been unafraid to challenge administrative recommendations and recently expressed frustration at the board table about how long it took to the district to join District 102’s COVID saliva screening program.
Marhoul along with board President Dan Hunt and David Barsotti have all decided to run for second four-year terms on the school board.
“I’ve enjoyed my time working on the board for the last three and a half years,” Hunt said. “I’ve enjoyed working with the other board members and representing the community.”
Marhoul and Barsotti both said that their belief in public service played a large role in their decisions to run again.
“There are things that are in progress at the district that I’d like to be part of, and I think I can adequately represent the interests of both the community and the taxpayer at the board level,” said Marhoul, who had sought the endorsement of the Riverside Community Caucus for village trustee but was not chosen.
Barsotti said he views his service on the school board as a way to give back to the community.
At least one newcomer will be running for the school board.
Stephanie Basañez Gunn plans to file nominating papers next week. Candidates for the school board must get at least 50 signatures on nominating petitions that must be filed between Dec. 14 and Dec. 21.
Gunn, 37, has lived in the Hollywood neighborhood for nearly six years and is a resident of Brookfield. She works as the admissions director for the weekend and evening MBA program at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.
The mother of two students who attend Hollywood School, Gunn has a law degree from DePaul University and earned an undergraduate degree in political science and government from the University of Texas.
After getting her law degree, Gunn worked for nearly five years as an immigration attorney before taking a job in admissions at DePaul College of Law.
Gunn was born in Mexico and moved to Brownsville, Texas, when she was 8 years old. She says she would bring some diversity and fresh perspectives to the District 96 school board as a parent of young children, a Latina who speaks fluent Spanish, a working mom with a demanding career and as a resident of Brookfield.
“I listen in to the board meetings and sometimes I just feel the conversations are lacking some various perspectives,” Gunn said.
Gunn also said her training should be useful to the school board.
“My professional background would be beneficial to being a member of the board, just being trained in law and higher education,” Gunn said. “I really rely a lot on the facts, the data and I like to be rational and logical and look at all sides of an issue.”
There are currently five men and two women on the District 96 school board.
“I think having more female voices in government and civil service is important,” Gunn said.
Gunn served for two years as the vice-president of the Hollywood School PTA but is not currently an officer of the group.
“It just really comes down to I’m an involved parent with two school-aged children in the district,” Gunn said of her reasons for seeking a seat on the school board.