D97 board member Bob Spatz.

The longest-serving member of the Oak Park Elementary School District 97 Board of Education — and among longest-serving elected officials in the Oak Park and River Forest area — announced on Friday that he will not seek re-election next year.

Bob Spatz, who was elected to the D97 board in 2007, said in the Sept. 14 statement that “now is a better time than most for the district to continue the transition to a new generation of board leadership.”

Spatz said he was announcing now “to give people plenty of time before the Dec. 17, 2018 filing deadline to consider running for school board or encouraging someone they know to run.”

Sept. 18 is the first day prospective candidates can circulate nominating petitions to make the ballot for the election on April 2, 2019, when there will be four open seats on the D97 board.

The seats of board President Holly Spurlock, Vice President Jim O’Connor and Rupa Datta are all up for election in 2019. So far, Spatz is the only member whose term is set to expire next year who has formally announced whether or not he will run.

O’Connor, who was first elected in 2011, is the second-longest tenured member of the board.

During his more than 10 years on the D97 board, Spatz has served in a variety of leadership roles. He was board president in 2013 and 2014 and vice president from 2011 to 2013. He has also served on a variety of D97 committees.

In his statement, Spatz said that throughout his quarter-century of involvement in D97 schools, he has learned that “no school district will ever be perfect, but constant and consistent efforts to adapt to an ever-changing world are critically important to achieve and sustain a high-quality public education system that is key to a thriving and equitable society.”

Spatz added that real district-wide transformation “requires all stakeholders (the school board, administration, staff, parents, students and the broader community) to be pulling in the same direction.”

The longtime board member said that he hopes “many community members will consider running, and I look forward to continuing to support our schools and community in other ways after my term ends.”

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