043033 UC Ingalls Mental Health Awareness Month Ad Reoirter
SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Dist. 218 race focuses on costs and achievements

By Dermot Connolly

Three seats up for election in High School District 218 are expected to be among the most closely watched local races on April 2.

District 218 includes Shepard High School in Palos Heights, Richards High School in Oak Lawn and Eisenhower High School in Blue Island. Two board members seeking second terms in districts 5 and 6 in Dist. 218 are facing stiff opposition from candidates who believe that as good as the district is, it could be better.

Two newcomers are vying for the 1st District that the longest-serving board member Johnny Holmes is vacating after 16 years.

In District 5, incumbent Carol Kats, an elementary school teacher from Worth who serves as board secretary, is facing opposition from another educator, Maureen Kenney Richel, D.Ed. of Palos Heights. In the 6th District, attorney Robert “Bob” Stokas is being challenged in his bid for re-election by Tricia O’Sullivan, an elementary school teacher and wife of Worth Township Supervisor John O’Sullivan. Both live in Oak Lawn.

Newcomers Sheila Wilson-Collier and Jacqueline R. Sharp are vying for Holmes’ seat, which takes in the southern section of the district that includes Blue Island and Robbins.

In separate phone interviews this week, both Stokas and Kats stressed they were proud of the accomplishments made by the district over the past four years, while keeping costs down. They both said they were happy to see the board apply for and receive about $6 million in property tax relief from the state as part of the new state funding formula.

This will result in a reduction on the 218 portion of local property tax bills for the second installment this year. Kats said that the exact amount saved depends on property values, but for a home valued at $150,000, it is expected to be about $84.

“I have been the voice of the taxpayer for the past four years,” said Stokas. “I have voted numerous times against raising taxes but I am proud to say I still have the support of our teachers’ union and maintenance workers’ union. I never wanted anything cut from our classrooms.”

He said he was opposed to raising the tax levy to the maximum unnecessarily, or “the same as last year plus more.”

“I know costs keep going up each year but there has to be a limit,” said Stokas.

Among the board accomplishments during her first term that Kats cited noted was the ability to reduce the cost of the new Richards High School Performing Arts Center. “When we came on board, the planned costs were about $25 million, and we said that wasn’t possible. We were able to bring the costs down to $15 million and it still looks beautiful,” she said.

“I feel that we have the right mix on the board now,” said Stokas, who said everything was going along well until last year “when politics got involved.”

He said he felt that his seat was targeted by outside political forces because he resisted voting to remove a law firm that represents the board. Stokas said he has heard good things about O’Sullivan, but said the fact that her husband is the Worth Township supervisor leads him to believe that her candidacy is politically motivated. Also, he said that he believes the mix of professions on the board works now, and there is no need to add to the two teachers already there.

O’Sullivan denied that there was any political motivation for her running, and said her husband’s position should not be used against her.

“I am a teacher in Hazelgreen School in Alsip and I believe my educational background will be a good addition to the board. I live this every day so I am better able see what may or may not work. I was asked to run before but I didn’t have time. But now I do, because my youngest son is turning 18,” she said.

“I have been out in the cold, going door to door. My local school district means a lot to me,” said O’Sullivan. “I feel it is very unfair to have these accusations of machine politics being thrown at me.”

Stokas said the two teachers already on the board is enough, because teachers already get input through their union. But O’Sullivan said that at least half of the seven-member board should have backgrounds in education.

Kats, a lifelong Worth resident, is also a teacher, at Ridge Lawn School in Chicago Ridge. She said working at a school that feeds into District 218 is beneficial to the board.

Richel, her opponent, has a doctorate in education. Originally from Oak Lawn, she and her husband, Patrick, have lived in Palos Heights since 1989.

“I’m an education specialist,” she said. After teaching in the classroom and being a curriculum director for a Tinley Park school district, she moved on to the Illinois State Board of Education, where she worked on federal grants and programs.

“It gave me insight into the high schools because we managed school improvement grants for the state of Illinois. They are awarded to chronically underperforming schools and they are mostly high schools,” she said.

After retiring in 2011 from the state Board of Education, she now works on national programs affiliated with the Centers on Innovations in Learning at Temple University, and at the Academic Institute in Lincoln, Ill.

“I have been doing a lot of work with the Center on School Turnaround,” said Richel.

She said she would like to work with teachers to help bring up SAT results in District 218, because according to the Illinois Report Card, only 24 percent of juniors last year met or exceeded standards in English in 2018, and only 21 percent in mathematics.

“I think we can do better, and we should do better. There are lot of little tweaks that we can do to improve student achievement that don’t require money,” she said. “This is about giving the teachers the support they need to be the sort of instructors they want to be,” she said.

Stokas and Kats said they are aware that there is room for improvement on SAT scores, and said an “articulation director” is working with feeder schools to prepare students for high-school level work.

“You can’t judge schools by one test,” said Kats. She said more Dis218 students than ever before—not just those in honors classes—are now taking Advanced Placement classes as well as classes for college credit while still in high school through a partnership with Moraine Valley Community College.

Local News

regional orland memorial day 2022 preview

Orland Park to add 7 names during Memorial Day ceremony

The Orland Park community is invited to join the village this Memorial Day in remembrance of those who have given their lives for our country. The ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 30, at the village’s memorial, Ara Pace – Place of Peace, located outside of Village Hall at 14700 S.…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Girls Soccer: De La Salle tops Bremen for program’s first regional title

By Steve Millar Correspondent De La Salle coach Carlos Nunez has seen his teams come up a bit short in the postseason repeatedly over the years. The Meteors had never won a regional championship in girls soccer. Until this year, that is. “I’ve been in every single one that we’ve lost in,” Nunez said. “We’ve…

Mallory Pugh, middle, moves the ball during the preseason. She played her first NWSL game Sunday and had two goals and an assist. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro soccer report: Pugh tallies twice return in Red Stars’ win over Orlando

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Mallory Pugh gave a sample of what could be a big 2022 season when she scored four goals in the exhibition Challenge Cup series. But the Red Stars scoring threat missed the first two games of the NWSL season with an injury, and the team split decisions against Louisville and…

Screen Shot 2022-05-23 at 8.23.03 AM

New ward map OKed

Reflects Madigan’s power By Tim Hadac The City Council this week approved a new ward map that, among other things, will see all of Clearing and most of Garfield Ridge shifted to the 13th Ward. Midway International Airport also would shift from the 23rd Ward to the 13th. Monday’s 43-7 vote means the issue will…

Sandburg's Jeremy Johnson, the hero of a semifinal win over Homewood-Flossmoor, legs out a hit in a 6-3 loss to Lockport on Saturday at Ozinga Field. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup: Sandburg takes 2nd at Bajenski tourney

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer The Sandburg baseball team has had more downs than ups this season. But the Eagles finished the regular season on a strong note with a run to second place at the Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament, which wrapped up May 21 at Ozinga Field in Crestwood. To get to the…

Sandburg's 3200 meter relay team of (left to right) Sean Marquardt Declan Tunney, Trent Anderson and Brock Rice ran the third-best time in the nation Thursday at Lockport and finished in second place. Photo courtesy of Sandburg High School.

Track Postseason Report: Sandburg boys 3200 relay records nation’s third-best time in 2022

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer How good was the competition in the boys track Class 3A Lockport Sectional in the 3200 meter relay? Sandburg’s relay team of Brock Rice, Declan Tunney, Trent Anderson and Sean Marquardt ran a time of 7:42.42, which tied for the third-best time in the nation in 2022. And that was…

biz pop's beef logo

Pop’s to celebrate National Italian Beef Day with week of specials

Palos Heights-based Pop’s Italian Beef & Sausage is beefing up May this year with a week-long celebration of National Italian Beef Day at each of their locations. As part of the celebrations, Pop’s is hosting an interactive contest on their Facebook page during the week of National Italian Beef Day from Monday, May 23, through…

Members of the “Small Island, Big Song” presented educational workshops to students at Moraine Valley Community College. (Supplied photo)

‘Small Island, Big Song’ workshops enrich classroom learning at MVCC

From staff reports Coming from some of the smallest islands in the world, performers from “Small Island, Big Song” talked about climate change, indigenous cultures and island history from their homelands to students in select sociology and geography classes at Moraine Valley Community College last month. The group performed their musical and spoken word endeavor…

Elaine Grande

Pathlights names new executive director

From staff reports Elaine Grande has been appointed Executive Director by Pathlights’ Board of Directors effective May 30. Grande brings more than 30 years of successful leadership experience and becomes only the third Executive Director in the Palos Heights nonprofit’s 46-year history. She currently leads all Pathlights program and services as Director of Program Development…

Mary Stanek

Summer weather means ice cream

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 And just like that, it’s summer in Chicago! At least for the week of May 9. That means ice cream for our family. We started with black walnut during that hot week. The old-fashioned flavors are the…

Neighbors

AladdinsBanquets WebAd
regional orland memorial day 2022 preview

Orland Park to add 7 names during Memorial Day ceremony

The Orland Park community is invited to join the village this Memorial Day in remembrance of those who have given their lives for our country. The ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 30, at the village’s memorial, Ara Pace – Place of Peace, located outside of Village Hall at 14700 S.…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Girls Soccer: De La Salle tops Bremen for program’s first regional title

By Steve Millar Correspondent De La Salle coach Carlos Nunez has seen his teams come up a bit short in the postseason repeatedly over the years. The Meteors had never won a regional championship in girls soccer. Until this year, that is. “I’ve been in every single one that we’ve lost in,” Nunez said. “We’ve…

Mallory Pugh, middle, moves the ball during the preseason. She played her first NWSL game Sunday and had two goals and an assist. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro soccer report: Pugh tallies twice return in Red Stars’ win over Orlando

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Mallory Pugh gave a sample of what could be a big 2022 season when she scored four goals in the exhibition Challenge Cup series. But the Red Stars scoring threat missed the first two games of the NWSL season with an injury, and the team split decisions against Louisville and…

Screen Shot 2022-05-23 at 8.23.03 AM

New ward map OKed

Reflects Madigan’s power By Tim Hadac The City Council this week approved a new ward map that, among other things, will see all of Clearing and most of Garfield Ridge shifted to the 13th Ward. Midway International Airport also would shift from the 23rd Ward to the 13th. Monday’s 43-7 vote means the issue will…

Sandburg's Jeremy Johnson, the hero of a semifinal win over Homewood-Flossmoor, legs out a hit in a 6-3 loss to Lockport on Saturday at Ozinga Field. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup: Sandburg takes 2nd at Bajenski tourney

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer The Sandburg baseball team has had more downs than ups this season. But the Eagles finished the regular season on a strong note with a run to second place at the Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament, which wrapped up May 21 at Ozinga Field in Crestwood. To get to the…

Sandburg's 3200 meter relay team of (left to right) Sean Marquardt Declan Tunney, Trent Anderson and Brock Rice ran the third-best time in the nation Thursday at Lockport and finished in second place. Photo courtesy of Sandburg High School.

Track Postseason Report: Sandburg boys 3200 relay records nation’s third-best time in 2022

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer How good was the competition in the boys track Class 3A Lockport Sectional in the 3200 meter relay? Sandburg’s relay team of Brock Rice, Declan Tunney, Trent Anderson and Sean Marquardt ran a time of 7:42.42, which tied for the third-best time in the nation in 2022. And that was…

biz pop's beef logo

Pop’s to celebrate National Italian Beef Day with week of specials

Palos Heights-based Pop’s Italian Beef & Sausage is beefing up May this year with a week-long celebration of National Italian Beef Day at each of their locations. As part of the celebrations, Pop’s is hosting an interactive contest on their Facebook page during the week of National Italian Beef Day from Monday, May 23, through…

Members of the “Small Island, Big Song” presented educational workshops to students at Moraine Valley Community College. (Supplied photo)

‘Small Island, Big Song’ workshops enrich classroom learning at MVCC

From staff reports Coming from some of the smallest islands in the world, performers from “Small Island, Big Song” talked about climate change, indigenous cultures and island history from their homelands to students in select sociology and geography classes at Moraine Valley Community College last month. The group performed their musical and spoken word endeavor…

Elaine Grande

Pathlights names new executive director

From staff reports Elaine Grande has been appointed Executive Director by Pathlights’ Board of Directors effective May 30. Grande brings more than 30 years of successful leadership experience and becomes only the third Executive Director in the Palos Heights nonprofit’s 46-year history. She currently leads all Pathlights program and services as Director of Program Development…

Mary Stanek

Summer weather means ice cream

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 And just like that, it’s summer in Chicago! At least for the week of May 9. That means ice cream for our family. We started with black walnut during that hot week. The old-fashioned flavors are the…

DVN Damar Kaminski Funeral Home House Ad
SWNH Ameri Corp House Ad