RBHS board president won't run for re-election

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Jim Marciniak has decided that one term is enough.

The president of the Riverside-Brookfield Township High School District 208 Board of Education has decided not to run for re-election in April 2011.

"I'm not going to run for re-election next year," Marciniak told the Landmark on Tuesday night. "It's been a difficult time. It's taken a great deal of time and energy and attention, and I think that's come at the expense of my family. I think four years is enough.  It's been very tough, and I feel bad for how much of the last four years of my kids lives that I've lost, and I can't do that for another four years."

Marciniak said that he decided not to run for another term "a long, long time ago." He is the first of the four incumbent RB school board members to announce whether they plan to run again.

Elected to the RB school board in 2007, Marciniak ran as part of a team with David Hilpp and Chris Robling, who were critical of the incumbent board members. Of that trio, only Marciniak was elected.

Always serious and thoughtful, Marciniak was pretty quiet in his first year on the board. He served on the board's personnel committee, and was part of the administration's team that negotiated a five-year contract with the teachers union, which some have since criticized as too generous given the district's financial condition.

In his second year, which was largely consumed by controversies including former Superintendent/Principal Jack Baldermann, Marciniak became more outspoken and was, at times, harshly critical of Baldermann.

In 2009, Marciniak endorsed a slate of candidates who were challenging two incumbent board members. In a letter to the editor of the Landmark on the eve of the election, Marciniak angered some fellow school board members by not only endorsing Matt Sinde, Mike Welch and Dan Moon, but also criticizing by name Laura Hruska, a school board member running for re-election.

Sinde, Welch and Moon won and Marciniak joined the victors at an election night party. In May 2009 the three new school board members voted with Marciniak to install him as school board president. But if some thought that was the beginning of a bloc that would control the school board, they were mistaken.

In other votes that same night Marciniak joined with three other incumbent board members to outvote Sinde, Welch and Moon. In the first vote after Marciniak was voted school board president, he joined with Larry Herbst, Sue Kleinmeyer and MariAnn to elect Kleinmeyer to the largely ceremonial post of vice president of the school board in a 4-3 vote over Sinde, who was also nominated for the post.

But on some contentious votes this year Marciniak joined with Sinde, Welch and Moon. This year the four combined in 4-3 votes to oust longtime head football coach and athletic director Otto Zeman from his posts.

Last month Marciniak joined with Herbst, Kleinmeyer and Leibrandt in a 4-3 vote to approve a budget containing an operating deficit of about $2.2 million, a vote that Marciniak recently defended in an op-ed piece in the Landmark.

Marciniak said that he always looks at each issue separately and makes up his mind based on the issue.

"I make the decision that I need to make for the school district, regardless of the subject of the vote," Marciniak said. "If folks think there is some sort of bloc voting one way or the other, I don't think that's true. I think everybody votes the way they need to vote on the issue at hand. I give every board member the benefit of the doubt in that respect."

Marciniak said that too much is made of the role of board president 

"Too many magical powers are ascribed to the board president," Marciniak said. "OK, I sort of run the meeting. I do communicate with [Interim Superintendent] Dr. [David] Bonnette in developing the agenda for the meetings. But, really, in most other respects I'm just one of seven in there, and it's kind of crazy that my vote gets called last every time like I'm some sort of tie breaker, because when it comes to taking votes I'm just another guy."

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