NEW LENOX – The Lincoln-Way District 210 board that was surrounded by much controversy last year is almost entirely new after a packed election.
Two new board members and three who were appointed last year after several resignations and then elected were officially seated at Monday’s reorganization meeting, leaving Ronald Lullo and Christine Glatz as the only members with more than a year or so on the board.
The task ahead for the new board will be to continue keeping the cash-strapped district afloat and rebuild the trust of the community that was broken after a series of controversies that led many to criticize the district for its lack of transparency and financial mismanagement.
Joe Kirkeeng, Joseph Kosteck and Aaron Janik – who ran as a slate in the April 4 election – were chosen to be the board president, vice president and secretary, respectively. Janik, along with Beth Janus-Doyle, are the newest members of the board.
Kirkeeng said he was humbled to be on the board and serve as its president. He said the new board is dynamic and will bring different perspectives. He said District 210 is about more than any one person or board member.
“That’s part of what we’ll work toward. It’s our district,” he said.
Former Board President Dee Molinare and board member Christopher Kosel, some of the longest-serving members, both of whom lost the election, were not at Monday’s meeting. Neither returned messages seeking comment.
Molinare and Kosel received the third- and fourth-lowest amount of votes for four-year terms in an election year that saw renewed interest. The race had 13 candidates – five ran for two seats with unexpired two-year terms and eight ran for three seats with four-year terms. It was the most candidates since at least 2005, and the election received about twice the number of votes than past elections have received on average.
Molinare and Kosel faced questions at a candidates forum before the election about their tenure on the board before the district landed on the state financial watch list, including one question on the revelation of a 2014 memo from Superintendent Scott Tingley that anticipated a deficit despite presenting a balanced budget.
Following the results of Election Day, Kirkeeng said Kosteck, Christopher Lucchetti and himself winning was a signal the steps the board took last year are in the right direction and he plans on keeping “that momentum going.” All three were appointed last year.
At Monday’s meeting, Lucchetti nominated Kirkeeng to become president and it was unanimously approved. Lullo nominated Kosteck as the vice president, and former vice president Glatz nominated Janik as secretary.
The first action items that the new board approved were the issuance of
$4 million in tax anticipation warrants, or short-term debt, for the district’s operations and maintenance fund and a resolution authorizing partial repayment of an interfund loan. Janus-Doyle abstained in the vote on the short-term debt. All other members voted in favor of both items.
Kirkeeng said Monday that he looks forward to working with the board, administration, faculty and, most importantly, the community.
The board will continue to focus on maintaining the district’s academic achievement. The process of community engagement has begun with the strategic planning and advisory committees, he said.
“Those are things we have to keep in motion; because at the end of the day, it’s our district. It’s everyone’s district,” he said.