DeKALB – The DeKalb School District 428 board will have three new members after Vickie Hernan-Faivre, Victoria Newport and Mary Hess defeated two other candidates for three open positions Tuesday.
Hernan-Faivre, Newport and Hess replace Michael Lord and Jessica Lyons, who did not seek re-election, and Mike Verbic, who left his seat to run for mayor. The new members begin their four-year terms May 7.
The three winners defeated Joe Mitchell, co-pastor at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, and Marilyn Parker, a 30-year classroom veteran.
Major issues await the incoming district leaders, who must address a $2.3 million deficit and determine how $21 million of remaining grant money for the construction of the new high school will be spent. The possibility exists that the state of Illinois will continue trimming the amount of aid it pays to school districts, and more financial challenges could be coming.
Hernan-Faivre, who said during the campaign that she would use her experience with farming finances where she cannot control input costs or prices of the product to address the deficit, said she was excited to get started.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the voters,” she said. “I’m looking forward to this opportunity. I think we’ll have a wonderful board.”
Newport said one of her goals would be to use some of the $21 million in grant money to reduce class sizes from 28 students to 23 students at the kindergarten through second-grade levels. Most of the money could be set aside for a “rainy day” fund, she said.
How much control the new board will have in allocating the money remains to be seen. A citizen advisory committee already has submitted a proposal to build secure entrances at two elementary schools. The projected $785,000 project was approved by the current board.
Hess, an asset specialist at Ben Gordon Center, said reducing the budget deficit must be viewed as a community issue and not a district problem.
“I think it’s imperative the new mayor and City Council do what they can to help the school district,” she said. “If we don’t have quality schools ... the whole community will suffer.”