Skala plans to stay in D-158 seat for now

HUNTLEY – Newly elected County Board member Michael Skala will be serving two elected offices when the county swears in the District 158 board president Dec. 2.

Skala, a 14-year district board member, said he wants to stay in his role as board president for the Huntley school district until an ongoing lawsuit with contractors who built the district’s Square Barn Road campus is either settled or goes to trial in early February.

The move means Skala will keep his post as president and simultaneously start serving constituents in the county’s 5th District, unless the lawsuit is settled before early December.

Skala said he would not serve as district board president beyond early February, but was adamant that he wanted to see the lawsuit through, since he has been the board’s only go-between with the district lawyers managing the case.

“I don’t feel that it’s right to try and leave and have someone else be brought up to speed on everything,” Skala said.

Skala’s decision coincidentally comes after county voters overwhelmingly said Tuesday in an advisory referendum that an individual should not be able to hold two elected offices at once. Nearly 113,340 voters (90.2 percent) endorsed the referendum’s intent, which is not legally binding.

State law allows an individual to serve two elected offices simultaneously, although the courts have pared down the law in the instances of a conflict of interest or duties.

The school district’s lawsuits with Square Barn Road contractors developed after the district claimed there were numerous and substantial leaks in school buildings within the campus that posed health hazards.

The campus was constructed in the mid-2000s. Skala would not say whether a settlement was imminent.

He was the leading vote-getter in District 5 on Tuesday, collecting nearly 20 percent of the vote among five other candidates, according to unofficial results.

Superintendent John Burkey said he was not surprised with Skala’s decision to stay on the board for a few more months after his Election Day victory.

Skala has always been dedicated to the district, even going beyond his required duties during the district’s transition between superintendents in the mid-2000s, Burkey said.

Skala first was elected to the board in 1997. He has served seven total years as president in that time. Skala also helped guide the board during the district’s growth and expansion during the past decade.

“It was a small, rural district. Now it’s much more suburban,” Burkey said. “He saw the board through those times. ... He’s incredibly dedicated to District 158. He has a true care and love for this district.”

Board members said they would conduct an open search and name an interim replacement if Skala decides to step down before his term expires in April.

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