Seven vie for 3 OPRF seats

A sitting D97 school board trustee is among the hopefuls

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

The race for the District 200 school board got a little more crowded Monday with a few last-minute filings, and one of the hopefuls is currently a member of Oak Park's elementary school board.

Three seats are open this election cycle at the high school — and four in District 97. Dist. 200 incumbents John Allen and Sharon Patchak-Layman filed their petitions on Monday, as did newcomers Rance Clouser and Margaret Lattner Skiver. Incumbent Ralph Lee filed last week, along with hopefuls John Bokum and John Phelan.

Clouser is a current Dist. 97 board member, first elected in 2007. The Oak Park resident has ties to the high school, having served on the Citizens Council, and is also an active member of SEA (Supported Education Association), an advocacy group for families with kids with special needs. Clouser said he feels his work on the Dist. 97 board is complete and wants to tackle issues at OPRF, where he has two students enrolled.

"I'd like to work with Dist. 200 on some of the challenges the high school is facing. It seemed like a natural progression," he said.

If elected next April, he'd be the second person in recent elections to move from the elementary school board to Dist. 200's. Patchak-Layman, also a former Dist. 97 trustee, was elected to the high school board in 2007 and will run for a second term.

Clouser insisted he wasn't looking to jump to OPRF's board because of the financial troubles facing the elementary school district. After more than 20 years of going without an operating referendum, Dist. 97 has a working-cash fund bond-sale referendum on the ballot in April. The district warns of deep cuts to popular programs and a reduction in staff if the measure fails. Clouser said the district needs a referendum — which he supports — and is hopeful that voters will support it.

"The responsibility of a board member is to exhibit financial stewardship, regardless of the money a district has or does not have," he said of his decision to run for OPRF's board.

Among the issues he wants to address is improving the transition of students from feeder districts into the high school. A key, Clouser said, is making data more easily sharable. He noted student privacy issues make that somewhat difficult. But there are ways, he said, to facilitate that, such as withholding a child's name or ensuring parents' rights to restrict certain information. The three superintendents of Oak Park and River Forest schools have discussed sharing data, but Clouser is looking to extend that conversation to the board level.

"There has been talk about sharing data, but I think the boards needs to be involved in this discussion as well. And I think there's support and agreement on everyone's part. We serve the same kids as they go through their academic career, and I think improving the educational outcomes for students is a goal all three districts want to achieve," Clouser said.

Reader Comments

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Bill Sullivan  

Posted: March 18th, 2011 2:23 PM

Any Oak Park or River Forest community member interested in meeting OPRFHS District 200 Board Candidate John Phelan is welcome to attend a Candidate Reception at my offices (107 N. Marion, Oak Park, Illinois 60301 - 708-445-2303) on Tuesday March 22, 2011 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

OPRF Drugs  

Posted: December 27th, 2010 7:46 PM

Bill, can we get John and some of the others to do a coffee somewhere? We need to early find out what his ideas are, and listen to the concerns for OPRF. It is a GREAT HS, but one that some are trying to let get out of hand. It has impacts for all of OP and RF to solve these problems. How does one find out more about John and his ideas for the HS? At this stage, many like me are inclined to support the newcomers, as the incumbents have had their chance and not done much at all!!

Bill Sullivan from Oak Park  

Posted: December 27th, 2010 1:19 PM

Voters have been given an exceptional candidate in John Phelan. I was very happy to read that John is running. I went to high school and law school with him and am highly confident that he will serve our community extremely well.

Achievement Gap  

Posted: December 26th, 2010 9:13 AM

Some very good comments on this list. Wonder if any of the candidates are reading. They seem to be dealing with the real issues -

Freespirit from oak park  

Posted: December 25th, 2010 10:06 PM

OPRF Drugs: There is a LOT of fraud at the High School, but they want their government money so looking the other way is profitable for them. As far as the Security Team, they all need to be fired! Most can't move at all, let alone handle a fight that breaks out at the school. It's even known at the school that some of those lunch ladies who don't live in Oak Park or River Forest are having their kids and or relatives go to the school! This school will NEVER give us answers, ever. OPRF = a joke

OPRF Drugs  

Posted: December 25th, 2010 10:20 AM

OPRF and Fraud of TAXPAYERS!!! How much is being stolen - including reduced lunch fees. It is a passing joke among the kids at OPRF - and the Security Guards just laugh it off as - WHO CARES how many kids attend OPRF yet live in Chicago AND go home every day on the EL. Wonder where the Drugs are coming from! OPRF needs to crack down on this FRAUD of the Taxpayers. Where is OUR Board on this?? Incumbents up for election WHAT have you been doing?? Taxpayers Demand Answers!


Posted: December 23rd, 2010 8:56 AM

What is the VISION of the Seven??? Like Donna said, pay attention. All are starting even, being an incumbent means nothing (except you went through this same process 4 years ago and made a bunch of promises), and in fact they have more to prove why we the voters should give them another 4! Make them show us what they have accomplished (versus promises) to make OPRF better off during their term. All need to explain their VISION for the future - should they be lucky enough to get our vote.

Acheivement Gap  

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 9:43 AM

Competition is good. Having this many run - says people are not happy with the current direction - WE CAN DO BETTER. OPRF is a great school with problems, like most large HS. However, there are Too many kids not reading at HS level entering OPRF. Having people from D97 focused on ideation and working to identify and put corrective measures in place, is what is needed. Get back to basics and hold students, Parents, Teachers and Administrators accountable. We all have something to Gain!

Me Too from Oak Park  

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 9:22 AM

I agree that this article isn't about seven candidates, it is about one (Mr Clouser). How about some balanced reporting?

Me from Oak Park  

Posted: December 21st, 2010 7:03 PM

It would be nice to have this detailed of an article about ALL of the candidates, not just Mr. Clouser. Seems like excellent free advertising for his campaign. If the intention is to feature all of the candidates at some point, then that would have been helpful to know going into the article.

Donna Schuler from River Forest  

Posted: December 21st, 2010 3:03 PM

It's great to see seven candidates for three board seats. Fellow residents, let's pay close attention to their campaigns so we can choose the best three.

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