Ramona Towner, the vice president of the Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 Board of Education, is resigning from the school board effective Oct. 1, because she is moving out of the district for family reasons.
An emotional Towner announced her resignation at the start of the school board’s Sept. 27 meeting. Towner has served on the RBHS school board since 2017. She was re-elected to another term in 2021 finishing third in a four-person race.
“I want to thank my fellow board members past and present for always being supportive even though maybe we didn’t aways agree,” Towner said while fighting back tears. “We were civil and we came to common ground. I enjoyed the work immensely. That’s what makes this hard.”
Towner thanked her ex-husband, former Brookfield Village Trustee Michael Towner, for encouraging her to run for the school board and managing her campaigns.
Towner said that it was a hard decision to move and leave the school board.
“I’m going to miss it,” Towner said. “I have really enjoyed serving my community.”
Towner was an energetic, outspoken and passionate member of the school board. In November of 2020 at the height of the COVID pandemic, Towner and two other board members harshly criticized band director James Baum at a school board meeting for opposing a return to in-person school.
“It wasn’t always easy, especially during COVID, but I believe that I put the rules of board governance and what was best for kids first always,” Towner said.
For the past few years, Towner has been the school board’s unofficial resolution reader, reading aloud all motions recommended by the administration at school board meetings.
School board member Mike Welch called Towner was one of the hardest working members he has ever served with.
Ryan VenHorst said that he will miss Towner pounding her fists on the board table when making a point. Board member Laura Hruska, who has lived across the street from Towner in Brookfield for many years, said that her passion will be missed.
“It’s about the vision that you brought, the energy and that willingness to fight and go against all odds,” Hruska said.
Towner, who works as an instructional coach in South Berwyn Elementary School District 100, is especially passionate about using technology in education.
Asked about things that she is most proud of from her time on the school board Towner listed expanding opportunities for graduates, particularly in the trades, getting rid of class rank, a dual-credit program with Triton College, approving a new teachers contract and a new contract for Superintendent Kevin Skinkis.
The school board will appoint Towner’s replacement to serve until April 2023. The school board has 60 days to pick a replacement and those interested in being appointed to the board can complete an application online by visiting tinyurl.com/r5kaw823 or sending a hard copy to Mary Ann Nardi at the Office of the Superintendent of Riverside-Brookfield Township High School District 208, 160 Ridgewood Road, Riverside, 60546.
Online applications must be submitted by 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 14. Mailed hard copies must be postmarked no later than Oct. 12.
Whoever is appointed to the board will have the option of running to complete Towner’s unexpired term next April.
Three of the four incumbents whose terms are up next year says they have not yet decided whether to run for another term. Only longtime board member Laura Hruska said that she is definitely planning to run for re-election.
Hruska will be seeking her fifth term on the school board. She has been on the school board for 16 out of the last 18 years.
School board President Deanna Zalas and school board members Bill Durkin and Mike Welch all said they have yet to decide whether to run again.
Those seeking to run for the school board next year must turn in nominating petitions by no later than Dec. 19.