District 202 Board of Education candidates discuss platforms


Ben Schaefer/The Daily Northwestern

District 202 school board candidates discuss their platforms during a forum discussion. The five candidates pitched their plans for ETHS ahead of the April 7 election.

Ben Schaefer, Assistant City Editor

The five candidates in the upcoming election for District 202’s school board discussed Evanston Township High School and the problems facing the school in a forum Monday evening.

Mark Metz, Anne Sills, Jonathan Baum, Adrian Dortch and Monique Parsons gathered in the ETHS auditorium and answered questions from dozens of parents. Specific issues discussed included common core curriculum standards, the achievement gap in Evanston students and looming threats to education funding that could emerge from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed changes to taxation and funding.

The candidates cited their experience in government and community organizing when they addressed solutions to possible funding issues. Sills spoke about her extensive knowledge of the state’s pension struggles, while Baum emphasized the need to audit the efficacy of various programs and cut expenditures when necessary. Parsons expressed concern for protecting funding for children’s centers, which are facing cuts under Rauner’s 2016 budget and an immediate deficit.

“We need board members who know the state budget, know its priorities and can stay on top of things in that area,” said Parsons, who is the chief operating officer of the McGaw YMCA. “We need to allow the administration to go through the budget line by line and see how priorities can be met, then meet with elected officials to give them the ammunition to fight for our schools.”

The Evanston/Skokie PTA Council, ETHS Parents Engaged and the League of Women Voters of Evanston sponsored the event. Valerie Krejcie of the latter group moderated the debate.

Each candidate commended the progress of collaborative efforts between Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and D202, and proposed plans to continue and expand on the relationship that emphasized parent involvement, college readiness and collaboration between educators in the two districts. Dortch, who is running for a seat in both the D202 and D65 race, spoke in favor of consolidating the two districts and instituting a K-12 district.

The election will take place April 7. Early voting will be available from March 23 to April 4 at several locations throughout Evanston, Skokie and Chicago.

Becky Zwolinski is a member of Parents Engaged and has two sons, one who attends ETHS and one who graduated from the school in 2012. She said she appreciated the format of the forum that allowed candidates to speak to the strengths of their platform with a well-balanced approach.

“I don’t feel like there’s any big, burning issues, but they all seem like aware and intelligent people,” Zwolinski said. “To me it’s about how they process and approach issues.”

Baum and Metz are both seeking reelection to the board.

Candidates for the D65 election will take part in a similar forum Thursday, March 5, at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center, 1500 McDaniel Ave. That event will begin at 7 p.m.

The candidates for D65 include Omar Brown, Jennifer Phillips, Richard Rykhus and Dortch.

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