Barry Greenwald

BACKGROUND: Greenwald has served one term and is currently president of the District 200 Board of Education.

He has a private practice in psychology in Oak Park, and teaches in the psychology department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. An Oak Park resident for more than 30 years, Greenwald and his wife, Marjorie, raised two children who graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School.

PRIORITIES: 1) Hiring a new superintendent and promoting the smooth transition for that individual, which will involve guidance and assistance from the board. This process, Greenwald says, will include helping to inform the community about the different roles of the superintendent and principal.

2) Dealing with overall achievement and raising the bar for everyone. Particular attention, he notes, must be paid to the minority student achievement gap, which brings with it improved articulation with the feeder schools.

3) Greenwald advocates for an intense review of OPRF’s discipline system to see what actually works and what doesn’t.

Yasmin Ranney

BACKGROUND: Ranney is running for a second term, and is currently the board’s vice president.

Assistant dean of academic development at Northeastern Illinois University, she is currently working a Ph.D. in education, and has a master’s in teaching and educational administration. A native of India, Ranney, a credentialed teacher, has lived in Oak Park for 18 years.

PRIORITIES: 1) Narrowing the achievement gap between African-American and white students at OPRF, focusing in particular on the 1-point GPA (grade point average) differential, which has persisted for more than 20 years at the high school.

2) Hiring and bringing on board a highly-qualified and experienced superintendent. That person, she noted, should not only be a very involved and committed individual, but philosophically compatible with the uniqueness of OPRF’s faculty, staff, students and Oak Park community.

3) Addressing the ongoing discipline “gap” issues, which parallel the achievement gap. A small cadre of students, she says, are not getting the attention, motivation and mentoring they need. Ranney stresses they need to reach these students during their four years at OPRF.

Ralph Lee

BACKGROUND: Lee, a 29-year resident of Oak Park, taught chemistry and physics at OPRF for 15 years. He was a program director for open admissions for City University of New York. Lee has been a member of non-profit and for-profit governing boards in the U.S. and abroad. He is married and has four daughters, three of whom graduated from OPRF.

PRIORITIES: 1) Narrowing the gap in academic achievement between black and white students by eliminating the built-in set of lower expectations of black students. Lee says such practices exist in the school’s three-tiered tracking system.

2) Heading off the increasing problems with student discipline by involving and engaging all adult employees of the school in the discipline system, rather than leaving discipline up to a relative handful of discipline deans and security personnel.

3) Keep District 200’s tax increases in line with the cost of living. This, Lee insists, can be done by putting in place a clearly-stated and well-understood procedure for determining what the district’s real priorities are.

John C. Allen IV

BACKGROUND: Allen, a River Forest resident since 2001, is married and has a child enrolled at Roosevelt Middle School. Allen is currently the inspector general for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Before relocating to River Forest, Allen was an attorney in Virginia. His only other run for elected office was for commonwealth’s attorney in Virginia, a position similar to state’s or district attorney in other municipalities.

PRIORITIES: 1) Promoting and maintaining true diversity at OPRF. Allen would also look inside the school to faculty and administrators to find solutions. Allen says he would also look at factors other than test scores to measure academic performance and success.

2) Maintaining an environment that encourages open communication in order to ensure financial stability. Since the board sets and monitors policy, it must rely on the superintendent and principal to implement its decisions, provide feedback and propose direction.

3) Actively work with special education parents to address their concerns. Most parents are satisfied with special ed, he noted, but those who are not need to be listened to.

Sharon Patchak-Layman

BACKGROUND: Patchak-Layman has served two terms on the District 97 Board of Education and is making her first run for the District 200 board. She is a 30-year resident of Oak Park and has three children, two of whom went through districts 97 and 200. While on the Dist. 97 board, she voted against the latest round of spending cuts in ’06, including a reduction in classroom teachers.

PRIORITIES: 1) After serving eight years on the Dist. 97 board, Patchak-Layman felt it was time to move on to the Dist. 200 board to help ensure a seamless transition for students moving from the elementary and middle schools to the high school.

2) She has been a proponent of shared governance and services between the two school districts, advocating that such partnerships would result in cost-saving measures for both, but especially Dist. 97, which is struggling financially.

3) She has called for a more open and transparent process of articulation with the Dist. 200 board than has existed in the past. She also wants Dist. 200’s regular and committee board meetings to take place at more convenient times for the public to attend.

Join the discussion on social media!