Next week the Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 Board of Education will choose someone fill the vacancy on the school board created last month when Ramona Towner resigned from the school l because she moved out of the district. 

The board received applications from nine people wishing to replace Towner, but school board members apparently were so impressed by one applicant that they are planning to pick that person without interviewing any of them.

“We were all collectively impressed with one of the candidates in particular, so we’re going to request that this person appear at the next board meeting and we’ll take a vote on her at that point,” said RBHS school board president Deanna Zalas.

Zalas said the one applicant’s experience was so compelling that the board didn’t feel the need to interview those who applied to replace Towner.

“We were comfortable with the information provided in the applications,” Zalas said. “This is a short-term duration fill, it’s only through April.”

Zalas declined to say who the board has in mind to replace Towner.

The person selected to replace Towner will be sworn in at the start of the board’s Nov. 15 meeting. Because of Thanksgiving, the board has only one meeting scheduled for November, and Towner’s replacement must be named by Dec. 1.

Although Towner was elected last year to a four-year term, the person picked by the school board will only serve until next spring’s school board election. Whoever is elected next April will complete the remaining two years of Towner’s unexpired term. There will also be four full four-terms on the ballot next April. 

Whether next week’s appointee will run to complete the unexpired two-year term, a four-year term or not at all would be up to her. Typically, those seeking appointment to vacant seats choose to run in the following election.

The Landmark obtained the names of the nine applicants through a Freedom of Information Act request.

They include a pair of educators, including Candice Gizewski, who works with autistic children and helped found ABLE Academy a school for children with special needs, and Keyla Navarrete, an educator with a background in data analysis and a scholar of racial and ethnic studies. 

Also applying are a pair of former school board members –Juliet Boyd, who served for a time on the Riverside Elementary District 96 school board and Carolyn Lach, a former member of the Komarek School District 94 Board of Education.

Former Riverside Township board member Tom Lupfer also applied, as did youth football coach Richard DeLeon and attorney Joseph Reyna. Rounding out the field of applicants were Tricia McVicker, a nurse and attorney from North Riverside who was an advocate of returning to in-person classes in 2020-21, and Beatrice Alvarez, who serves as the social media manager for Latinos United in Loce for Autism (LULA).

Last year, Boyd and Lach applied to fill a vacancy on the RBHS school that was created when Tom Jacobs resigned; neither was chosen. In that instance, school board members could not reach a consensus and a state official, West 40 Intermediate Service Center Executive Director Mark Klaisner, had to step in. He ultimately chose former RBHS board member Mike Welch to replace Jacobs. Welch had served on the board from 2009 until 2017.