LAKE FOREST/LAKE BLUFF — A group of four “like-minded” candidates of the eight people running for the Lake Forest Community High School District 115 Board of Education wants to oust three incumbents and become a majority of the seven-person body.
Voters will decide whether they want to make a wholesale change, maintain the status quo or select a middle ground when they cast their ballots in the April 4 general election. Each elector can vote for up to four candidates.
A quartet of Jennifer Neubauer, Patrick Marshall, Lisa Mienville and Cindy Good have banded together to offer voters what they consider an approach different from the current board to make Lake Forest High School the best one in the state, according to Neubauer.
“This is something we can achieve with the like-minded people I am running with,” said Neubauer referring to Marshall, Mienville and Good. “We want to represent all stakeholders, the children, parents and taxpayers of the district.”
Sally Davis, one of three incumbents seeking re-election, said she agrees with the idea of making the school the best in the state though she said there are plenty of very good things going on with local education right now.
“That’s a great goal,” said Davis. “I look forward to hearing the details.”
Joining those five candidates on the ballot are incumbents Ted Moorman and Dave Lane along with first-time office seeker Tom Nemickas. Moorman, Davis and Nemickas have the backing of the Lake Forest Caucus. Lane is endorsed by Vote Lake Bluff, that village’s caucus.
More Openness Sought
Neubauer said she wants to see more openness on the part of the board during its meetings and in its communication with the community.
“This board operates in a diffuse way in their opacity as to what is going on,” said Neubauer. She has sought information under the Freedom of Information Act and felt she has not received proper responses. “You begin to get the feeling they are operating in secrecy.”
Davis said the board goes out of its way to gather community input like it did when it changed the school schedule, which began in August.
“I’m sorry that’s her impression,” Davis said of Neubauer. “There is a lot of opportunity for the community to participate in all of our proceedings. The Illinois Open Meetings Act is very strict about this and we scrupulously comply.”
Both Davis and Neubauer said the average ACT score of all students in the school is one indicator of success. Neubauer declined to give any more specific standards but promised they would be laid out as the campaign progresses.
Davis said the increase in the advanced placement courses offered as well as the amount of students taking them is another barometer of success. She said that standard is heightened by the maintenance of the level of scores produced. She said it is not all.
“You have to look at the social and emotional health of the students too,” said Davis. “We want to have well rounded, incredibly kind teenagers.” She cited the 14,000 community service hours produced by the student body as an example.
While Nemickas hopes to become a new board member, he said he has no criticism of the current board. He said two of his three children have attended Lake Forest public schools and he is happy with the quality of their education. He said he is running to serve the community.
“You’re not supposed to have an agenda when you come in,” said Nemickas. “You need to listen to the administration and the community.”
Davis, who said school funding and special education are two key issues for her, said after being elected she took a course required of all new board members. It is administered by the Illinois State Board of Education. She said one of the things taught is to keep an open mind and not enter with an agenda.
Moorman, who is completing his first term on the board and seeking a second, said he has learned a lot. He said he has concentrated on financial issues and will continue to do that.
“I’ve tried to rein in costs particularly when it comes to personnel,” said Moorman. “At times I’ve felt like I’m the lone wolf.”
Lane, Marshall, Mienville and Good did not return multiple phone calls to DailyNorthShore.com seeking comments for this story.