It was a tight race, but Shannon Smigielski and Kip Evans managed to garner enough votes to earn a seat on Grayslake’s District 46 Board of Education. Both will join re-elected member Sue Facklam and the current term members at the May 3 board meeting.
Smigielski’s campaign appealed to voters as a fellow parent who wanted to be the voice for the community.
Evans, a retired school teacher, made no secret of his affiliation with the Lake County Tea Party, seeking more financial transparency and lower taxes.
Facklam maintained her commitment to the district and will continue for a third term.
The newcomers to the board were asked about their plans for the upcoming term:
1. What will you bring to the table that has been missing or would be of benefit to the district?
As a new Board member, I hope to be a positive force in many areas. I hope to help bridge the divide that the community feels between them and the board. I want to encourage the community to have input and share their ideas. The district is facing some very difficult challenges ahead and one of the best ways to work through those challenges would be asking for and including community input. Grayslake is a fabulous community with a diversely skilled population. It is in everyone's best interest to utilize the talents and intellects of those who wish to share. Shannon Smigielski -
I hope to encourage the board to be more transparent and responsive to the public. This board should not act as the enemy of the public but rather as the representative of all taxpayers. Kip Evans
2. How will you handle differences of opinion on school board issues between yourself, other board members and the superintendent?
I may be slightly different than most people when it comes to differences of opinion: I welcome additional perspectives. I hope that when a decision is made that I don't agree with, the other Board Members will be able to diplomatically explain their process and reasons for reaching their decision. As long as decisions are made through diligent and thorough research, I will respect it, even if I don't agree. Shannon Smigielski
I am coming to this board with no preconceived agenda. I am a good listener and will consider the opinion of the superintendent and all other board members before I form my opinions. Kip Evans
3. Do you have target issues that you plan to address?
An important issue that I plan to address is how the board interacts with the administrators, staff, and students of the schools. A community member and I spoke before the election at length about this. It is time for our board to invest; what do I mean by this? We have seven Board members. We have seven schools. I will be proposing that each Board member "adopt" a school. The Board members should then invest themselves by getting to know the staff by participating at PTO functions, going to concerts/plays, observing classes, spending time with the custodians to the media assistants to the administrators. Ride a bus route! Have lunch with the kids! Take the staff out on a Friday night for pizza...say "Thank you!" and "How can I help?" Shannon Smigielski
The recent increase in the tax levy was to pay for a shortfall in the cost of bus transportation. I want to look into the details of this part of the budget. Otherwise, I have no targets other than becoming familiar with the inner workings of the district with an eye to making improvements whenever possible. Kip Evans
4. In your opinion, will politics continue to impact the school board, as it did during the elections?
If this school board and district wants to move forward and be productive, positive, and effective, then there is no room at the table for politics, grievances and acrimony. Shannon Smigielski
I got involved with the school board because of its lack of transparency. Unless the board is willing to make changes in the way it puts out information and in the way it treats the taxpayer, politics will continue to impact its actions. Kip Evans