By Josh Bootsma

Background: The Lansing Journal made efforts to contact all candidates in the April 6 election to gather information to share with Lansing voters. Using a “candidate info form,” we asked the same questions of each local office seeker. Answers were prepared and submitted by the candidates. We have been sharing the info race by race in a series of “Voter Guide” posts.

LANSING, Ill. (March 5, 2021) – The Lansing Elementary School District 158 Board oversees five schools in Lansing: Memorial Junior High, Coolidge Elementary, Oak Glen Elementary, W.C. Reavis Elementary, and Lester Crawl Primary School. Lansing residents living north of 186th Street are served by District 158.

Why school board elections matter

In the last year, Lansing families have felt the direct impact of school board decisions. The pandemic has changed the way Lansing students have gone to school, and the school boards in Lansing are responsible for approving the major changes Lansing schools have experienced in the face of COVID-19.

In addition to making re-opening and safety decisions, school boards establish vision, adopt budgets, vote on tax levies, set calendars, approve curriculum, and hire the Superintendent, who oversees the five schools in the District. Dr. Nathan Schilling is the superintendent of District 158. All of these decisions have impacts on Lansing’s students.

District 158 Board elections – Uncontested

The individuals below are the names voters will see on the April 6 ballot for the District 158 Board elections. Board members serve a four-year term. Four candidates are running uncontested.

Melissa Enright-Taylor

Town of residence: Lansing

Education: Capri School of Beauty Culture, Morraine Valley Community College

Occupation: Cosmetologist

Resumé highlights

  • Mother of two daughters in D158
  • Very involved parent, I’ve sat on the PTA Board for 3 years at Coolidge and volunteer as often as I can in the school.
  • Very interested in the schools and community and their future successes.

Most important issues: At this time one of the biggest issues is getting the kids back in school safely full time. I know the current decisions have not been made lightly. I look forward to investing my time to D158 for its continued success in serving the kids and families.

Goals and promises: I feel the best plan is to really listen and hear all the stakeholders of D158. I am a fair, open-minded, and honest person, these are qualities that will help me serve the people of D158 responsibly and respectively. I am excited to work with fellow board members as a team for continued success of D158. I am dedicated to these schools and community.

Jim Long

Town of residence: Lansing

Education: Western Illinois undergraduate degree: Education; Governors State Masters: Urban Studies

Occupation: Retired educator 40 years: Teacher/coach/athletic director/Department chairman/administrator

Resumé highlights:

  • Inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coach Hall of Fame 2006
  • Named Athletic Director of the Year by the Illinois Directors Association 2005
  • Received the Golden Apple Award and Distinguished Teacher award
  • Officiated Illinois State Finals in Basketball 2002 and 2003
  • Officiated Indiana State Final in football 2012

Most important issues:

  • Education and well being of the students
  • Use of tax monies wisely
  • Technology
  • Continue to look for grant money

Goals and promises: Goal: Maintain a balanced budget using district funds to continue providing an excellent education for district students and continue to support the staff in seeking district grants.

Promise: To listen.

District 158 Board
Sara Wallace (Photo provided)

Sara Wallace

Town of residence: Lansing

Education: BS in Human Biology; DC, Doctor of Chiropractic; both from Logan University

Occupation: Faculty Member, Unity Christian Academy

Resumé highlights:

  • 15 year resident of Lansing (41 year resident of Lynwood/Lansing)
  • 4 children currently in School Districts 158 and 215
  • 2 children with IEPs; 1 in the co-taught program

Most important issues: Important issues are the continuing changing effects COVID has on the way we deliver quality education to our 158 families and maintaining a positive, solid financial position especially with the ever-changing demands the state of Illinois puts on its school districts.

Goals and promises: I have learned quite a bit from my four years of being a 158 Board Member. A goal is to keep all of the families in 158 in mind when making decisions on education delivery. I will be a voice for all students, especially those who have educational challenges and accommodations.

Robert Wood

Town of residence: Lansing

Education: Masters Education Ball State University, BS Math Findlay College, Newton Local High School

Occupation: Retired, Trustee at First United Methodist Church

Resumé highlights

  • Experienced board member serving since 1993-1994 school year
  • Lansing resident, home owner, and tax payer since 1978
  • Involved community volunteer

Most important issues

  • Getting the staff and the students safely back into our schools
  • Expanding Lester Crawl Primary Center to increase impact of early childhood interventions
  • Working with SD 215 and other community organizations to take full advantage of all our various resources, i.e. Fox Pointe, Patti Leach Youth Center, Lansing Park District, Lansing Library
  • Expand extra-curricular opportunities for youth with before and after school activities
  • Taking ownership of transportation issues

Goals and promises: Communication is of primary importance. All stakeholders need to be able to voice their concerns and offer solutions and strategies. At the same time, stakeholders need to be informed of the plans in place. Our first goal has to be to offer a safe environment for everyone in the our facilities. Then we can focus on the business of education. The staff of SD158 is well trained, dedicated and devoted. We need to maintain their morale and enthusiasm for their tasks, inspiring our youth to reach their full potential, while exploring the wonders of the world around them.

Our tax burden has to be equitably shared, however, and an effort applied to the Cook County Assessor to insure that we do not tax our businesses out of our community, county and state.

Lester Crawl expansion is critical to getting children off to a good start in schools, and has to be a top priority for 2021-2022.

 

The District 158 Board elections will be held on April 6, 2021. District 158 offices are located at 18300 Greenbay Avenue, Lansing, IL.

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