A member of Oak Park’s elementary school board has announced his intentions to run for reelection next spring.

Bob Spatz was first elected to the District 97 Board of Education in 2007 and told Wednesday Journal this week that he will run again in April 2011. Spatz was a member of the district’s Finance Advisory Committee in the mid 2000s, had made unsuccessful runs for the board in the past, and describes himself as a longtime board watcher.

Spatz, an information technology director at the University of Chicago, made the decision to seek reelection late this summer after sending his only child off to college in August. The Oak Park native and graduate of Emerson Junior High School (now Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School) sited the launch of all-day kindergarten as among his and the board’s accomplishments in his first term. Spatz was a supporter of a full-day program in Oak Park prior to joining the board. He’s also been a longtime proponent of early childhood education in Oak Park and a supporter of the Collaboration for Early Childhood Care and Education.

The district’s current financial troubles also factored into his decision to run again. An operating funding tax referendum will be on the ballot next April, Dist. 97’s first since 1989.

“My institutional memory in the district would, I think, be valuable as we move forward,” Spatz said.

That knowledge includes a detailed understanding of tax increment financing, something his fellow board members often credit him for.

Before announcing publicly, Spatz informed fellow board members via e-mail that he’s running again. Also up for reelection next spring are seats held by Michelle Harton, Rance Clouser and Peter Traczyk, the board’s current president. Harton, a former board president, is in her second term; Traczyk and Clouser were elected in 2007.

At Oak Park and River Forest High School, school board members John Allen, Ralph Lee and Sharon Patchak-Layman, a former Dist. 97 board member, are up for reelection in April. Lee has already announced that he’s running.

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