With just five days remaining before filing begins for Geneva School Board elections, there have been no formal announcements from potential candidates.
That's not unusual, of course. School Board elections typically don't carry the fanfare of some local races and generally aren't the ones that get the big headlines or column inches. But there's every reason to believe that the April 9 District 304 board races might be an exception.
For starters, few local elected bodies have had the scrutiny or the attention this board has received since August, during the sometimes-heated public debate over a recently approved three-year teachers contract agreement.
But the board hasn't shied away from any number of controversial issues in the past year, including but not limited to school boundary changes, the possible demolition of the historic Coultrap building, the"Enrollmentgate" controversy, the acceptance of a half-million-dollar anonymous donation to build a synthetic turf athletic field, kindergarten enrollment bubbles, state and national funding shortages and technology upgrades.
In addition, few boards have had such clear-cut, persistent and vocal political opposition as the Geneva TaxFACTS group, which has attended and spoke during virtually every School Board meeting for the past two years.
Those factors set the stage for what could be a very interesting election cycle, as voters determine what direction the board should take for the next two years.
Four seats—presently held by Mark Grosso, Bill Wilson, Tim Moran and Matt Henry—are up for grabs in the April election, each for four-year terms. The board president is selected by the board as a whole and is not an elected position.
The public should start to get a picture of the School Board race starting Monday, Dec. 17, the first day candidates may file nominating papers with the Board Secretary. The final date to file petitions has been extended to 5 p.m. Dec. 26, due to the holidays.
Another important moment for candidates comes at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19, when a lottery is held to determine ballot positions. The lottery is open to the public and takes place in the Geneva School District’s Central Office, 227 N. Fourth St.
Ballot position is particularly important because School Board seats are "at large," which means they represent the entire district. In the April 2013 School Board race, the top four vote-getters will win election to the board, no matter the number of candidates.
Some studies have suggested that ballot order can account for as much as a 5 percent statistical difference, with a clear advantage to the candidate whose name is first on the ballot.
In the April 5, 2011, School Board race, then-Board President Mary Stith, incumbent Kelly Nowak and newcomer Mike McCormick won election. McCormick edged out incumbent Leslie Juby and challenger George George Jackowiec. Robert Cabeen finished sixth.2011 Candidate Votes Mary Lynn Stith 1,514 Kelly B. Nowak 1,401 Michael T. McCormick 1,379 Leslie N. Juby 1,342 George Jackowiec 1,304 Robert L. Cabeen 625
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