As two District 91 Board of Education members seek re-election next April, another has announced she will not.
Shannon McGrady-Wood is aiming to stay on the D91 board, a seat she has held for two years. She joins Greg Mitchell, who has said he’s “tentatively” seeking to keep his seat, while Christina Ricordati will not run for re-election. McGrady-Wood needs 50 residents to sign nomination petitions to get on the April ballot, and said she’s already exceeded that threshold.
“I fight for what I believe in and things that matter to me,” McGrady-Wood said. “I do have my own two kids in the district and I want to see them succeed. I want to see them all succeed. I bring up things I care about; I’m not really a wall flower.” She has a first-grader at Betsy Ross Elementary and a fifth-grader at Field-Stevenson Intermediate.
McGrady-Wood said she wants to see continuation of the good work done at D91 the past few years, including the new schedule for Forest Park Middle School (FPMS), the new science curriculum, and working with the National Equity Project. Watching America to Me, the documentary series on Starz about race and education at nearby Oak Park and River Forest High School, has been eye-opening for her, she said, particularly since she grew up in northeast suburban Highland Park, an area she said was not very racially diverse.
“Being white, I have a lot of privileges that other people don’t, so being around the diversity of our community, I just want to make sure that everybody’s given their best chance,” she said.
She named the board members’ ability to respectfully debate topics with one another as its greatest strength, and said a “negative community perception” was the district’s greatest challenge.
“Getting out the great things that we do, we lack in that,” she said.
Meanwhile, Christina Ricordati said she will not run for re-election, after a little more than three years in the post. When she moved to Forest Park about five years ago, she said her family did not have children; now she is the mother of two little boys. The Ricordatis have outgrown their house in Forest Park and are not sure if they’ll be able to find a house that suits their needs in the village.
“This is actually really sad for me. My family has some needs that are probably going to push us out of Forest Park. … It’s been a wonderful experience, and I am so fortunate to have gotten to serve this community in this way,” she said.
Ricordati named the board’s reboot of the Community Engagement Committee, new schedule for FPMS, and work with the National Equity Project as board accomplishments she’s proud of during her tenure. She said the next board member needs to be passionate and thick-skinned since, “it’s really hard to please everybody because there’s almost always going to be somebody unhappy — sometimes because of a decision you make, other times because of rumors and misconceptions,” she said.
Ricordati hopes the board will continue challenging the district’s highest-level students, and said serving students’ diverse racial and socioeconomic needs as the greatest challenge the district faces.
“I fully intend to go out with a blaze; anybody who has ever been to a board meeting [knows] I am not one to sit there. I’m always talking, asking questions. It is very sad and it’s something that is one of the hardest things about selling our house. I’m just very proud to have had this opportunity,” she said.