Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Five D65 board hopefuls wrap up campaign for 4 spots

As a two-month campaign winds down, five candidates are scrambling for four spots on the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 school board. The election will take place Tuesday.

The board oversees the management of Evanston’s elementary and middle schools and consists of seven members. In April of odd-numbered years, the community elects members to serve four-year terms.

Board President Mary Erickson and member Mary Rita Luecke are leaving the board, while current board members Andrew Pigozzi and Jerome Summers are up for re-election. The challengers for the available positions are Chris Hawker, Tracy Quattrocki and Kim Weaver.

Since February, the candidates have participated in five forums, spoken to various groups and held informal “coffees” with members of the community.

The economy’s impact on school funding has captured the attention of potential voters, Hawker said. The district anticipates a large deficit in upcoming years, as the Consumer Price Index drops from 4.9 percent to 0.1 percent. The index measures inflation.

“I think we have to be realistic and wise about where we spend money,” said Pigozzi, a member of the school board since 2007.

A lifelong resident of Evanston, Pigozzi attended school in District 65 and has two children enrolled in Nichols Middle School. He works as an architect and has designed and planned a number of school districts in Illinois.

Hawker, a science teacher at Niles West High School, considers the board’s relationship with the community a personal issue.

“There has been a feeling in the community that many of the board’s decisions have been made rather arbitrarily, without taking into consideration the sensibilities, needs and concerns of the community,” Hawker said.

The election has also become something of a referendum on the current board and its controversial 10-year superintendent, Hardy R. Murphy Jr. Hawker and other challengers have been very critical of Murphy, while Pigozzi and Summers have traditionally been supportive of the embattled district leader.

For Summers, another key issue is school diversity. He said that the district is often touted as being diverse, but that word doesn’t tell the whole story.

“Evanstonians can’t wait to tell you about how diverse we are, and it really is a diverse community,” Summers said. “However, all of the diversity goes one way.”

The district tries to diversify schools on the north side of Evanston by bussing in students from the Fifth Ward, a historically black community, he said. In the past, Summers has spoken in favor of creating a separate school in the ward.

Having already served one term, if re-elected, he will be the board’s longest standing member.

The other candidates, Quattrocki and Weaver, also have strong ties to Evanston and its schools.

Quattrocki graduated from Evanston Township High School and taught at the college level for several years. Her children attend District 65 schools, and she has served as PTA president at Dewey Elementary School.

Weaver works with school districts on energy efficiency and has served on the Lincoln Elementary School PTA. She has lived in Evanston for 21 years and has one child at Evanston Township High School.

Although the campaign has consumed a great deal of time, the candidates said they are more than willing to invest the time to make an effort to help their community.

“It’s a lot of fun and a lot of work, but nothing phases me too much,” Hawker said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think it was worth it.”

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Five D65 board hopefuls wrap up campaign for 4 spots