SEA backs Blankemeier, Guarino, Newberry Schwartz for D97

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As in previous elections, the Supported Education Association (SEA) is endorsing candidates for the D97 Board of Education. These endorsements are the result of careful consideration of many characteristics and communications, but are primarily based on the candidates' responses to a variety of questions posed during a candidate's forum on Feb. 15. One candidate was interviewed at a later date, as he was unable to participate in the forum.

As parents of students with disabilities we are looking for candidates who are sensitive to the needs of students with disabilities and will assure that these students receive the appropriate public education that is every child's right. However, in this election our concerns are not limited to issues relating directly to students with disabilities. Because of the path we have had to travel, we are acutely aware of the need to have board members who will listen to all members of the community, will ask hard questions, and will follow up to assure that the administration is meeting both educational and financial goals.

We appreciate the efforts of all the candidates. However, there are only three seats open and the following endorsements go to the individuals we feel are most capable of providing the direction and oversight that is needed to improve our schools.

SEA's endorsement of Julie Blankemeier is based on her commitment to open processes and accountability. In particular, we support her stand on accountability of the Superintendent to the school board and of the board to the community. Julie's desire to utilize all perspectives is welcomed, as is her desire to seek out best practices and see them implemented throughout the district. Our endorsement also recognizes Julie's ability to act in support of what is right and to assure fair treatment of vulnerable populations. We expect that she will advocate for measurable improvement relative to the education of students with disabilities, closing the minority achievement gap, and assuring that all students are challenged to their potential.

SEA's endorsement of Vic Guarino is based on his understanding of the board's responsibility for the educational as well as financial success of the district. Vic's managerial experience and commitment to building accountability into the policy making process is particularly welcomed. We also welcome his openness to the community and his willingness to listen to all perspectives and engage in constructive dialogue. We feel this commitment will facilitate sound decisions and the ability to hold the administration accountable for educational improvements.

SEA's third endorsement goes to Carolyn Newberry Schwartz, albeit with some reservations. We welcome her support for community involvement in the selection process for the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. While in her first term she has appeared to focus on financial issues, we look forward to seeing an equally strong interest and advocacy for educational initiatives in a second term. As a returning board member, Carolyn will have the experience and stature on holding the Superintendent accountable for how policies are implemented and how results are measured. And we sincerely hope that Carolyn will demonstrate the ability to work with multiple perspectives and engage in open discussion.

In closing, we again endorse these candidates and encourage all members of the community to vote for Julie Blankemeier, Vic Guarino, and Carolyn Newberry Schwartz.

SEA Executive Committee: Vicki Bielanski, Chris Birkental, Suzanne Carney, Rance Clouser, Kathy Dolan, Peggy Ebersole, Carolyn Effgen, Melissa Koenig, Howard Larkin, Lisa Masucci, Kimberly Werner

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