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D-181 candidates look to future

HINSDALE — For the candidates seeking a spot on the District 181 school board, the most important agenda is the future — especially when it comes to the new curriculum.

Richard Fitzgerald, Sarah Lewensohn, Jill Vorobiev, Gary Clarin and Mridu Garg are each seeking one of the three spots available on the school board come Tuesday.

Each candidate expressed interest in the new Advanced Learning Plan, which will accelerate the curriculum and education for all District 181 students. In February, the current board unanimously approved the plan.

Sarah Lewensohn, the incumbent, said one example of how the Advanced Learning Plan will be used is to have most of the kids who graduate from eighth grade complete high school algebra.

“Our goal is to try and move so all of [the kids] have completed algebra,” Lewensohn said. “The way we’ll do that is to help kids in second and third grade by modifying the curriculum so as they move into middle school, they’re farther ahead.”

Garg, who has two young children in the district, said she has always had a vested interest in the district, but implementing the Advanced Learning Plan is one of her top priorities.

But Clarin said for children who are on the bottom end of the bell curve, the new programs may be too difficult for them. He said the current board spent 18 months working on it and supported their efforts, but he wants to monitor how it affects students.

“I think it has to be reviewed,” Clarin said. “There has to be benchmarks and we have to see how it’s progressing.”

Because the program already has been approved, Vorobiev said it will be up to the future board members to ensure its success.

“As a parent, you’re always looking for improvement in the ability for the schools to continually challenge the students,” Vorobiev said. “I think we’ve had successful programs in the past and there were definite areas for improvement, and I know that the intent of this is to improve upon what was already in place.”

While the Advanced Learning Plan is a major issue among candidates, including Fitzgerald, keeping the board fiscally responsible also is important, he said.

“The current board has begun to take the right steps, but I believe there is more we can do to ensure that the maximum amount of the district’s funds are spent on classroom instruction rather than non-instructional expenditures,” Fitzgerald said.

One common trait candidates was how much they loved their community and wanted to see the best from the district.

“We have a good community, good schools and good, highly educated teachers,” Garg said. “I think we have the right resources in place, we just need to make sure we’re making the right decisions.”

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