While the recent weather makes spring seem far away, current school board members and Forest Park residents have filed signature petitions last week to run for the six open seats in District 91’s school board election on April 4.

From Dec. 12-19, Forest Park residents interested in serving on the school board had the chance to file official candidate paperwork with the Cook County Clerk’s Office.

The District 91 school board consists of seven members who each serve a 4-year term, unless otherwise appointed to fill a board vacancy (which is a consideration this time around). In effect, the following candidates will run unopposed.

Six individuals filed with the county to run on the board, including the following (in alphabetical order):

  •  Eric Connor (4-year term)
  •  Mary Win Connor (4-year term)
  •  Christina Ricordati (2-year term)
  •  Kimberlee Rostello (4-year term)
  •  Kyra Tyler (4-year term)
  •  Shannon Wood (2-year term)

Of the candidates who filed to run, only Wood is a new name. The list of candidates includes a mix of both people who have successfully won elections to the board in the past and others who were appointed to fill board vacancies during the past few years.

Typically, the school board consists of seven candidates who have run for 4-year terms, but if an individual leaves the board more than 180 days prior to the end of their term, whoever is appointed to fill that vacancy has the option of running again for a 2-year or 4-year appointment.

Current board president Mary Win Connor said that while there has been quite a bit of member turnover the past few years, most of it can be attributed to personal reasons and not the board itself.

“We’ve had people who have left for personal reasons, such as family or moving out of town,” Win Connor explained. “Nobody has said they left because it is a lot of work. That may have been a factor, but it was never said. We also have a culture of respect for each other.”

It is a common misconception by the public, Win Conner added, that the school board does not work hard. They actually do a great amount of work, she said, and hopes others begin to realize the amount of time and dedication members put into their roles.

“There is a lot of time involved in being on the school board and people don’t realize that,” she said. “To the outside world, all we meet is once a month for a couple of hours, show up at graduation and some of us take turns showing up at open houses. It is not two hours a month and show up at an occasional event.”

Win Connor, the current board president is a longtime Forest Park resident who first joined District 91 after being appointed to serve a vacancy in March 2007. She is the parent of both a son and daughter who are graduates of Forest Park schools.

Eric Connor, Mary Win Connor’s husband, is also a longtime Forest Parker who joined the board in 2013 after winning his first election.

Christina Ricordati has been a Forest Park resident for a few years now and is a relative newcomer to the board. She was first appointed in October 2015 to fill a seat vacated by Corrissa Smith, who had been elected to the board just five months prior. Ricordati is the parent to a young child not yet in the school system.

Kimberlee “Kim” Rostello is another longtime Forest Park resident who served on the school board for three years following a board vacancy in August 2014. She has lived in Forest Park for nearly 25 years and has had two daughters go through the Forest Park school system.

Kyra Tyler has been a Forest Park resident for four years and was recently appointed to the board this past July to replace Nora Bowker, who moved out of district to Oak Park and was herself appointed to the board to fill a vacancy in October 2014. Tyler has a young daughter who is a first grader at Garfield Primary Elementary School.

Political newcomer Shannon Wood has two daughters in District 91 schools, one in preschool at Garfield and another in third grade at Grant-White Intermediate Elementary School.

Current board member Blake Harvey, who was first elected to the board in April 2015, will continue to serve out the remainder of his 4-year term. He has two children currently in District 91 schools.

Not running for re-election is Rafael Rosa, who was first appointed to the board in 2010, ran unsuccessfully for a full term in 2011 and then won election in 2013. Rosa had two children graduate from District 91. According to Win Connor, Rosa has decided not to run for another term due to a new job that requires more of his time, including more time traveling.

Win Connor believes that the training programs board members go through, including going over finances, policies and procedures in depth with district administrators and the board, is what makes the D91 board effective and has helped them successfully move forward in accomplishing set goals for the past few years. She said new district happenings such as the future ready schools program, new curriculum, remodeling of schools, new classroom technology and better community outreach and communication have made the district stronger.