Four candidates have announced they are running for the four open Proviso Township High School District 209 school board seats, and one incumbent says he is still unsure whether he will run again.
John Wicks, who served as president of Bellwood Elementary School District 88 for eight years has said he will run for a seat on the D209 board. Wicks works as a security officer in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago, he said. He also owns a security consultant firm.
Wicks, who lives in Bellwood, graduated in the Proviso East class of 1983. He sent four children through Proviso West High School and worked as a truancy officer in both East and West high schools.
He described himself as “not a novice by any means” in terms of school board leadership. He said his three focuses would be to improve academic performance, end political clout, and “protect the taxpayers.” He is also a member of the Proviso Township Democratic Organization.
Arbdella “Della” Hayes-Patterson has also said she will attempt to get on the April ballot. Hayes-Patterson ran unsuccessfully for the D209 board twice before.
She worked with, and was an ally of, former D209 board President Charles Flowers at the Cook County Regional Office of Education, which was shut down by Gov. Quinn in 2009 after Flowers was accused of running up a $190,000 loan from the county and using office funds for personal expenses. Flowers was arrested in 2009 and pled guilty to one count of felony theft last December. According to a May 2009 Southtown Star investigation, Flowers at one point gave Hayes-Patterson a salary advance of $9,000, though she was not charged with any wrong-doing.
Hayes-Patterson, who now works as an educational consultant, said she wanted to work with students, parents and teachers to “make sure we’re all held accountable,” she said.
“The board of education should not be determining [the district’s] maintenance staff and janitors,” she said. “The board’s duty is to set policies. You will continue to have a failing school district if you fail to implement policies set by the board of education.”
“The board in place does not understand certification,” Patterson said. “I’ll make sure administrators have the right credentials. This is why [the district] has a revolving door of administrative staff.”
She noted that Proviso school board elections are historically pricey. “You shouldn’t have someone spend $90,000 on a school board election. It shouldn’t cost that type of money.”
Her three children graduated from Proviso West High School and she lives in Maywood.