Nine candidates are vying for three spots on the School District 155 Board.
The Crystal Lake-based district encompasses four high schools: Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge.
Karen Whitman is the only incumbent seeking re-election. The other candidates include Amy Blazier, Adam Guss, Rosemary Kurtz, Brennan Markee, Daniel Marks, Titus Mielke, Brian Pelz and Brett Siegmeier.
School District 155’s ongoing battle with the city of Crystal Lake over the construction of new bleachers at Crystal Lake South High School no doubt fueled the high participation in this race. We applaud all the candidates for taking an interest in the community and stepping up to be more involved.
The school district and the city are waiting for the Illinois Supreme Court to hear the bleachers case. At issue is whether District 155 needed city approval to erect the bleachers as part of a $1.18 million expansion in 2013 or whether Regional Office of Education approval was sufficient. An appellate court in September upheld a McHenry County judge’s ruling that the district was required to go through the city zoning process before building the bleachers.
It’s unclear how many taxpayer dollars have been wasted by the school board in defending itself in this case and taking it all the way to the state Supreme Court. The Northwest Herald has filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking that information. The district asked for an extension in answering our request.
Whatever the amount, the saga has been costly to District 155 and city of Crystal Lake taxpayers. Fresh sets of eyes are needed on the board with a sharp focus on fiscal responsibility to taxpayers.
We endorse Amy Blazier, Rosemary Kurtz and Daniel Marks to be those fresh sets of eyes.
Blazier, who teaches preschool at the nonprofit Friendship House Childcare, believes the district should not be focusing on expansion projects, such as the bleachers, when she believes enrollment will be on the decline. She believes the district needs to live within its means, and she says she will not support any tax levy increases.
Kurtz, who has a long history of dedicated public service and a reputation for being a fiscal hawk, is concerned the district adopted a budget with expenses that surpassed revenue in fiscal 2014. She believes the district’s fiscal health has come at the expense of overcharging taxpayers since the district has more money than it needs in reserve but continues to increase its tax levy. She favors using the excess money to pay down debt and lower the levy on taxpayers.
Marks, who is vice president of national broker distribution for UnitedHealthcare, would bring taxpayers a business background that would serve the board well. He believes the board needs to spend every dollar as efficiently as possible and that every dollar not spent on education needs to be examined.
We’re confident all three candidates will challenge the status quo and ask the questions that need answers. We endorse Blazier, Kurtz and Marks.