By Bob Skolnik
The Lyons District 103 Board of Education is back to full strength as Costello School PTO President Tom Weiner was appointed to the board at a special meeting held Dec. 10.
He fills the vacancy created when Coleen Shipbaugh was booted off the school board last month for not attending meetings.
Weiner was of eight people who applied to fill the position and complete Shipbaugh's term, which expires next year. All eight applicants were interviewed by the board in closed session before the vote. The interviews lasted about 10 minutes each.
Weiner's appointment was approved by a 4 to 1 vote. Sharon Anderson, Shannon Johnson, Joanne Schaeffer and board President Marge Hubacek voted to appoint Weiner. Board member Jorge Torres voted against appointing him.
Torres declined to comment about why he voted against Weiner, saying that he had to hurry off to another closed session portion of the board meeting.
Weiner, 58, is the father of a first-grader at Costello School. He is a graduate of Morton East High School and works as an inventory control specialist for GF Machining Solutions. He said that he took a couple college classes and wishes that he had continued his education further.
"That's why now I realize, this late in my life, how important education is, and I want to do what I can to help the board make sure the teachers have what they need to make sure our kids get the best education possible," Weiner said
Weiner also has filed to run for a full four-year term in the April 2, 2019 election. He made clear that he supports the current board majority of Anderson, Johnson, Schaeffer and Hubacek.
"I'm just going to try and do what I can to help the board keep on going forward, because this board has made great strides in the last year and a half," Weiner said. "It was a mess when they took over."
Hubacek said Weiner was chosen from the field of good candidates including Lyons Township Assessor Barbara Weyrick and former LaGrange Fire Chief Bill Ruting.
"For me the swaying factor was that he has attended almost every board meeting this school year and last school year," Hubacek said. "In my mind, he'll hit the floor running; there's no bringing him up to speed."
Hubacek also liked that Weiner is running for a full term on the board next spring.
"I was looking for somebody who was going to at least try to be elected," Hubacek said.
Weiner will be running on a slate that Hubacek is supporting. The slate consists of Weiner, Schaeffer, former board member Connie Esparza, who was defeated in 2015, and Stickney resident Jacqueline "Jacquie" Magsaysay, who also applied to fill Shipbaugh's seat on the school board.
Hubacek made clear who she is supporting.
"I'm endorsing Tom and Jacquie and Joanne and Connie," Hubacek said. "That's who I'm supporting. I'm real thrilled that Connie has decided to make another run."
Esparza served on the school for about a year. She was appointed to fill a vacancy in 2014 and was defeated when she ran for a full term in 2015.
Schaeffer, a longtime board member, confirmed that she, Weiner, Esparza, and Magsaysay are running as a team.
"The four of us are going together," Schaeffer said. "We have the same beliefs, we have the same thoughts. We want to make sure that the kids are put first, that the district stays on track the way that we're going now."
Magsaysay is a Stickney resident and mother of a son who is a seventh-grader at George Washington Middle School. Magsaysay works as a computer-assisted design and drafting manager and holds an associate's degree from Morton College.
She is a Boy Scout den leader, has been active in the Stickney-Forest View Little League and served briefly on the Stickney Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission.
They will be opposed by what appears to be a slate of candidates, led by Torres, which includes Olivia Quintero, Vito Campanile and Winfred Rodriguez. Quintero ran in 2017 on a slate with two incumbents backed by Lyons Village President Christopher Getty. That slate lost and the board majority slipped from Getty's control.
Torres, who was elected as part of a Getty-backed slate in 2015, declined to comment on the slate of candidates.
Also filing at about 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 17 were incumbent Michael Bennett and McCook resident Shakana Kirksey-Miller.
Bennett was elected alongside Torres as part of the Getty-backed slate that took control of the school board in 2015.