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Palos Heights Dist. 128 needs candidates for school board

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Residents with or without children in Dist. 128 can serve their community

Qualifying period is already underway

By Anthony Caciopo

Regional News Editor

Candidates are needed to run for positions on local school boards, and important dates are approaching for qualifying.

Statewide elections will take place April 2, 2019 but in less than two months the official candidate filing period begins on Dec. 10 and preparation is required. The filing period ends Dec. 17.

“For people who want to run, the time is now,” said Kristin Restivo, a board member with Palos Heights School District 128 who won election in 2017.

According to the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), a petition circulation period is currently underway. During this period, which runs until Dec. 10, a potential candidate must circulate a nominating petition and obtain a minimum of 50 signatures of registered voters in the district as part of the paperwork necessary to be considered a legitimate candidate in the election.

The boundaries of Dist. 128 are Central Avenue on the east to Harlem Avenue on the west, Route 83 on the north to 135th Street on the south.

There are other documents required, all available from IASB, but what Restivo and Dist. 128 Superintendent Dr. Dawn Green want people to know is the appeal and importance of serving on a school board.

“I look at it as giving back to your community,” said Restivo, who has two children in Dist. 128 schools.

“You’re supporting the administration, the teachers and you’re cultivating a nice environment, spreading out to the whole community,” she said.

“The biggest job of the board is hiring the superintendent,” said Supt. Green, who happens to be retiring next summer.

A search for her successor is already underway, as reported in the Sept. 20 edition of The Regional News. The hiring of the new Dist. 128 superintendent will be handled by the current board and is expected to be announced in January, 2019.

According to IASB, the school board also adopts and enforces all necessary rules for the management and governance of the school district. The board can and does delegate many of its powers and duties to the superintendent through it board policies.

Other responsibilities of the board include clarifying the district’s purpose, connecting with the community and monitoring performance.

 

IASB has a variety of print and online materials that support school board governance and service on the school board. Some of the titles of available literature are “Your School Board + You,” “School Board Governance Basics,” “The Effective School Board Member” and many more.

Board membership eligibility is open to people 18 years of age and older who are registered to vote within the district. The positions are unpaid.

Candidates may or may not have children attending district schools. The Dist. 128 seven-member board has three seats expected to be vacant in the April election.

“Four of us are parents (of children in the school district) and I feel we need outside people,” said Restivo.

“There are three board members who had children in the district but their kids have grown,” said Supt. Green. “It’s good to have both (perspectives).”

Every two years board members are elected to serve two- to four-year terms. The staggered election schedule ensures there’s no possibility the entire board can be turned over in an election.

School District 128 is comprised of four schools, all in Palos Heights: Indian Hill Early Learning Center, kindergarten and pre-K; Chippewa Elementary School, grades 1-3; Navajo Heights School, grades 4-5 and Independence Junior High School, grades 6-8.

Enrollment in the district is 700-plus students and increasing, said Green. Dist. 128 employs slightly more than 100 staff, she said, including teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries and custodians. The district’s budget this year is approximately $12 million. Restivo and Green see the very nature of Palos Heights and of Dist. 128 as being additional motivators for people to consider serving on the school board, as witnessed by the dozens of applicants already received for the job of superintendent.

“We’re a hidden gem, because we’re so small,” said Restivo of the four-square mile district. “That’s why we’re seeing all these applicants, because people want to work here.”

“We do our ice cream social at the start of the (academic) year,” said Green. “You could really see the difference in these young families. I left there feeling really good.”

Green said the District does well in academic testing and that students are high-achieving.

“We’ve always gotten high ranking for our financial situation,” she said. “The state does that, based on how much you’re spending, how much you have in reserve and what your taxes are bringing in.”

“I like being in the smaller district where the kids walk in and the principal knows their names,” said Restivo.

“Not only that,” said Green, “but the principals know their routines. ‘She stays for art after school, he stays for band,’” Green used as examples.“I like that description Kristin used, ‘a hidden gem,’” said Green.

More information about qualifying for school board elections may be obtained at www.iasb.com/elections/.

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