Carolyn Lach

For the first time in recent memory there are now two residents of North Riverside serving on the Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 Board of Education.

On Nov. 15, the school board voted 6-0 to appoint former Komarek school board member Carolyn Lach to fill a vacancy created when Ramona Towner resigned because she moved out of the district.

Lach will serve at least until next spring’s school board elections. She told the Landmark she plans to run for a seat on the board in the April election when four four-year terms and the last two years of Towner’s term will be on the ballot.

“I’m not sure if I’m going to run for the two-year [term] or the four-year yet,” Lach said. “I’ll have to make a decision in the next couple weeks.”

Last year, Lach, who served on the Komarek District 94 school board from 2015 until 2021, applied to fill another vacancy on the RBHS school board. She interviewed with the school board then and apparently made a good impression, although the board deadlocked on picking a replacement.

Eventually a state official, West 40 Intermediate Service Executive Director Mark Klaisner, picked a former RBHS school board member, Mike Welch, to fill the vacancy.

This time the board decided not to interview any of the nine people, including Lach, who applied to replace Towner. Instead, they reviewed the written applications and quickly settled on Lach.

“We all did a ranking of the candidates, and she was at or near the top of for all of the board members, so it made for an easy decision,” said District 208 school board President Deanna Zalas.

Zalas said that Lach’s application last year didn’t have anything to do her being chosen this year.

“She has substantial school board experience, which is just helpful to have,” Zalas said. “It’s a seamless transition for her.”

Zalas said that since the appointment was only for a short time before next year’s elections, the school board did not feel it was necessary to interview the applicants.

“If we were looking at a longer duration term, much like the vacancy in 2021, I think the board would have collectively approached this differently,” Zalas said. “But this is a five-month appointment.”

Lach, who has lived in North Riverside for around 20 years, has two sons, one a college sophomore who graduated from RBHS in 2021 and another who is now a junior at RBHS.

“She has a child at the school, which I think is a helpful addition to the board,” Zalas said. “That’s my personal opinion.”

Lach, 54, is the director of financial aid at North Park University, a position she has held since 1999. She grew up in southwest suburban Burbank. After graduating from Eastern Illinois University, she taught high school and junior high school math and science.

She taught one year at her alma mater, Reavis High School in Burbank, and another year in Wauconda before getting into higher education as a financial aid officer at Rush University. Lach has a master’s degree in human services and counseling from DePaul University.

Lach was appointed to the Komarek District 94 school board in 2015 but was not re-elected when she finished fourth among five candidates running for a four-year term in 2019. However, because no one filed to run for the two two-year terms on the ballot in 2019, the District 94 school board appointed Lach to serve out one of those terms, so she never left the school board.

In 2021, Lach decided not to run for another term on the Komarek school board because she no longer had any children attending the school.

The other applicants to fill the Towner vacancy were Boyd, Beatrice Alvarez, Richard DeLeon, Candice Gizewski, Tom Lupfer, Tricia McVicker, Keyla Navarrete and Joseph Reyna.

There had been no school board member from North Riverside on the RBHS school board from 2009 until 2017 when Gina Sierra was elected. In 2021, Sierra decided not to run for another term but Gasca, a resident of North Riverside, was elected.

“I can tell you personally I thought it was important to have some additional communities represented,” Zalas said.

Lach said helping get a referendum passed to expand and renovate Komarek School was one of her biggest accomplishments in District 94. She was also involved in hiring Komarek District 94 Superintendent Todd Fitzgerald, switching students from Macintosh laptop computers to Chromebooks and approving a new math curriculum more aligned with the curriculum at RBHS.