School Board Candidate filings

Per the News-Gazette and Gordy’s tweet this evening, here are all 10 candidates for the April 7th elections (the number following the name indicates either a 2-year seat or a 4-year seat):

  • Amy Armstrong (4)
  • Jamar Brown (4)
  • Azark David Cobbs (4)
  • Christopher James Kloeppel (4)
  • Kerris Lee (4)
  • Kathy Richards (4)
  • Prudence Runkle (2)
  • Kathy Shannon (4)
  • Jonathan Westfield (2)
  • Alissia Young (4)


I will be seeking out more information on each of these individuals; I am told that the media has already started to reach out to them as well, and I know the REWIND citizens group is contacting candidates. From memory, Cobbs, Westfield and Young have all tried for seats in the past. Brown and Lee are currently board members.


I am sure there will be candidate questions, forums (the PTA Council already has plans for one in April) and more media spotlights for each of them. Feel free to submit your own questions/thoughts here. I’ll publish what I have gathered soon.

Board interviews 6 school board candidates tomorrow, July 15th

The Unit 4 school board will be interviewing 5-6 folks in open session tomorrow:

·         Azark Cobbs

·         Sujata Dey-Koontz

·         Chuck Jackson*

·         Michael L. Jeffries

·         Kerris Lee

·         Jeffrey C. McGill

“Champaign Unit #4 School District Board of Education will hold interviews during the July 15 special meeting for its vacant seat. The interviews will take place in open session starting at 6 p.m. at the Mellon Administrative Center, located at 703 S. New Street.

Community members are encouraged to attend and will have the opportunity to make a public comment prior to the start of interviews.”

Unit 4 press release

NG article with Q&A from candidates (and pictures!)


UPDATE: the video with audio is now available:

Another look at the school board candidates

I was reflecting on my previous post, and after talking to a few folks, came up with a more objective look at what the candidates are saying about themselves. So instead of just linking to their public profiles, this time I am going to dive into them to see what they say. I will come away with promises these candidates are making and what we can hold them accountable to. Please bear in mind, by “hold accountable” I am speaking to the necessity and mutual benefit of the voting community holding their elected officials to the promises they have made; I firmly believe this engages the voters and empowers those elected. Everyone says they want to collaborate and work together – let us (all of us, you and me) not just say that, but do that.

Additionally, at the April 8th Board Meeting, Arlene Blank specifically said the board needs to do what the board said it would do. Admittedly, that is a larger scope – this post is to break that down into the context of the three new board members.

With that being said…

Scott MacAdam

It’s hard to find much online about Scott. We can dredge through previous board meetings (google helps but it is still a lot to read: There is his NG advertisement in which talks about being “[c]ommitted to fiscal responsibility and transparency”. Probably, the bulk of any online search is going to come up with his responses to candidate surveys. And finally what he shared at the 2013 candidate forum. What has he said he is going to do?

  • develop strategies so the board can be sound financial stewards
  • speak in public
  • embrace diversity
  • be accountable, accessible, transparent to the community; “serving at the mercy of the public, we are there to serve their needs, they need to know what we are trying to accomplish”
  • To address achievement gap,  we need engagement; starts in the home, reach out in various ways.
  • Leverage relationship with UofI to upgrade/enhance technology.
  • work closely with the administration to guarantee that we have the absolute best teachers available for our students, and that they have the resources they need to teach successfully and continue to feel valued and appreciated
  • is committed to fiscal responsibility and transparency

Laurie Bonnett

Laurie has a good bit of information on her campaign facebook page including her video ad (don’t know if that will stay up after May 6th or not, but right now she is still updating it). But she has been engaging with Unit 4 even before this; she went for the open vacancy last year (video of April 2012 Candidate forum), has served on at least one committee (search for superintendent) and put her name in for the January vacancies (after Tom Lockman and Sue Grey left). We have her responses to the NG surveys, and what she said at the 2013 candidate forum. Here is what I found:

  • work with other stakeholders and ensure we move forward taking into account multiple perspectives: the needs of the students and parents; the needs of the teachers and staff; and the needs of the broader community of Champaign.
  • Current and future board members must always look to engage our community in dialogue — in whatever method works best
  • Being available to meet with people and having regular informal discussions to hear people’s concerns and answer questions is something I am committed to do.
  • have communications that are back and forth where people have an opportunity to know what is going on and ask questions and hear honest answers.
  • operate from a place where the board values the trust of the community and actively works to earn and keep it.
  • The board must tell the truth, not always an easy thing to do but it is at the heart of most matters concerning the school district, and finally it must be transparent.
  • Make sure transportation is not an issue for new high school (ie, after-school events).
  • Access to technology not dependent on income level.
  • getting all members of the community to work together
  • fiscal health; become self-reliant
  • To address achievement gap, learn and experience the culture; let the students teach us.

Lynn Stuckey

Lynn has run several times for the board and has put her name in for multiple vacanies – she has obviously been trying for this position for a while. 🙂 Her campaign page has gone through several transitions over the years; for this post, I am using her latest (since I do not have copies of previous versions). We also have her NG responses, and the candidate forum:

  • support efforts and discussions with the CFT earlier in the budget creation cycle, in an attempt to work cooperatively with our school board, and as a means of helping assure that future cuts impact the fewest number of students.
  • Voice concerns and enact proper safeguards to ensure that any and all cost-shifting efforts by the City of Champaign to Unit 4 schools are shifts that truly are in the long-term best interests of the taxpayers.
  • I will support energy efficiency and “green” initiatives and push Unit 4 to aggressively pursue federal grants and foundation monies to implement them.
  • Remodel and revamp elementary schools, including embracing and building K-8 schools.
  • Connect with community by continuing to be an active member of my community, mixing with large numbers of people throughout the week and seeking discussion on matters regarding our schools and facing our School Board.
  • Making sure a report is compiled and delivered every year, detailing savings from “greening” efforts (this same report should also be a feature on the district’s website).
  • Work towards making sure each child is achieving to the best of their abilities; different configurations, different environments.
  • Making sure budget cuts impact the fewest number of children.
  • Utilize technology to compensate for reduced state funding.
  • Ensure we will be financially sound despite the State.
  • Work towards more engagement with the UofI
  • The board will be more transparent
  • Work on better building plans than we have now
  • Motivate people to become more involved


Here are some common themes I found in these promises – I invite you to compile your own list:

  1. A Board that actively pursues multiple bilateral communication opportunities in an effort to educate, to listen and to build trust by being accountable.
  2. Better partnership with the University and the community businesses
  3. Financial independence
  4. Cultural and ethnic awareness, seeking to embrace the diversity within our district

a more objective look at the candidates: part 1

After my last post about the board candidates, I wished I had more objectivity to hang my hat on. So I pulled up the board candidate PTA Council forum and went through it making notes. If you ever try it, you know that it is a time-consuming task. So my notes are by far not complete, but they give me a lot to start looking at. My end goal is to come up with campaign promises made by each candidate, with the intention of holding whomever is elected to those promises. I believe that is our obligation as voters. I also firmly believe that holding those elected accountable forms the basis of a mutually beneficial and trusting relationship.


So here are my notes. Take them as they are – just notes. Not a transcription. I invite corrections, additions, explanations, etc etc.


Next, I intend to gather text from other sources, like the NG questionnaire, FB, webpages, etc. Again, my lens is to be objective and find campaign promises.

Houlihans this week

I am hoping to finalize our board member questions by Wednesday so we can start putting wheels into motion. There are 3 obvious favorites so far, but I am waiting to see if others percolate up to the top. “Tell all your friends….”


Additionally, this Wednesday we will be joined by another UofI Urban Planning student; she is taking a look at school accessibility, and being relatively new to the US, she realizes she needs to learn a lot about the public schools we offer here first. So she is hoping to chill with us and learn. Please drop by to join in to share your own thoughts. (Hmm….. wonder if I should bring pictures? If nothing else, the map of the district and all the schools…..)


PS – who is going to the school board meeting tonight?

Prepping for our own "candidate forum"

A little while ago, I started a post about what questions to ask all the BOE Candidates for the April 9th, 2013, election. I am going to make one more go at this, choose the top 5 and then start asking candidates to answer these questions. Thinking about inviting candidates, one by one, to special forums; however the logistics are a bear if I want to accommodate all of you. 🙂 Any suggestions?

Here is the complete list of questions I have so far (nothing edited, yet – I will eventually boil it down to commonalities). Your task is to vote on which ones stay, or come up with new questions (pick 5):

[note: the poll is narrow because some browsers do not render the “wide” version well at all, so I am told]