SOMONAUK – For many of the Somonauk School District 432 board candidates, passing a referendum that could generate $900,000 for the district is crucial.
“It’s the most important issue there could be possibly be right now,” candidate Michael Short said.
The referendum that would allow the school board to raise its education fund tax rate to 4 percent has been touted as a lifeline for the district. School board President Tom Nielsen, who is not up for re-election, said in February the district would cut three teachers and a host of extracurricular programs if the referendum fails.
LaSalle County is not a tax-capped county, which means that to raise revenue, the district needs voter permission April 9 to raise tax rates. Even though it extends into DeKalb County, the majority of the district is in LaSalle.
Voters also will choose among six candidates – Short, Corey Britt, Bradley Casner, Roger Duffield, Amy Wiegman and Matthew Wilson – who are vying for four spots on the board. Britt and Duffield are the only incumbents seeking re-election.
For Wiegman, failure is not an option when it comes to the passing the referendum.
“I don’t really want to think what will happen if it fails,” Wiegman said.
She first got involved with the school district in 2012 when her husband, Jay, led the pro-referendum committee. It was an eye-opening experience, she said.
“We really became more and more aware of problems of communication between the schools, the businesses and the community,” Wiegman said.
With her background as a social media manager at a publishing company, Wiegman said she would use her skills to open up more lines of communication among the three entities.
Wiegman and Short have children in the first grade. If elected, Short said he would not micromanage the administrators or teachers.
“I’m willing to listen and take input when it’s time to make a decision,” Wiegman said.
Wilson taught agriculture and general science in the district for 33 years, and he’s hoping to bring his appreciation for the education system to the board.
“I know how to live through tough decisions and tough times, and I hope to make a difference,” Wilson said.
Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the board should begin planning for whatever direction it wants to take in the future, Duffield said. With a background in insurance and risk management, Duffield said he believed he excels at long-term planning.
“We’re going to have to figure out what’s important for citizens,” Duffield said, “and it just can’t be in a time of crisis.”
Career: Insurance and risk management
Children: Nick, 24, Taylor, 20, Amber, 18
Career: Geotechnical engineer, Illinois Department of Transportation
Children: Madeline, 6, Patrick, 5, Andrew, 2, Natalie, 1
Career: Social media manager, Annie’s Publishing
Children: Ellie Wiegman, Spencer Wiegman
Career: Turf specialist /retired teacher, Young and Younger
Children: Christopher S. Wilson, 32, James M. Wilson, 28, Laura L. Carpenter, 27