Student achievement and school revenue topped the list of issues for candidates vying for seats on the United Township High School District School Board in Tuesday's elections.
There are four open seats on the board and five candidates pursuing them. The candidates are Wendy Wassell-Verschoore, Susan Koska, Donald J. Sproul, Dan Jecks and Harry Arvanis. They were asked to answer a few questions about themselves and why they are running. All but Ms. Koska responded. She was out of town at the time The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus made the query, and could not fill out the survey in time.
Each of the candidates framed their responses in slightly different ways, but all said providing a quality education to the students despite declining state and federal aid is the critical issue facing the district.
All of the candidates have experience with school boards. Ms. Koska, Mr. Sproul and Mr. Arvanis are all veterans of the UT board. Ms. Wassell-Verschoore is a recent appointment to the board, fulfilling the term of another member who had to leave. Mr. Jecks is a longtime member of the Silvis School District's board.
NAME: Wendy Wassell-Verschoore AGE: 43 ADDRESS: East Moline OCCUPATION: Certified public accountant FAMILY: Husband, Kevin, and sons, Keith and Alex EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in business, Western Ill. University OFFICE SOUGHT: UTHS School Board PRIOR OFFICE: East Moline Park Board WHY RUNNING: I have always been a strong proponent of public education. I believe my background in governmental accounting will provide additional insight to the board. KEY ISSUE: Continuing to offer students the opportunity to receive a well-rounded education that enhances their individual strengths and allows them to get extra help in areas of weakness during an era of new federal and state mandates combined with continued budget cuts from the state and federal government.
NAME: Donald J. Sproul. OCCUPATION: Retired FAMILY: Wife, Nancy; daughter Betsy, and son, Peter EDUCATION: Graduated Western Illinois University. OFFICE SOUGHT: United Township High School Board PRIOR OFFICE: Current UT board member and past president, member of East Moline Planning and Zoning Commission; current chairman Black Hawk Division of the Illinois Association of School Boards; member East Moline/Silvis Junior Chamber of Commerce WHY RUNNING: My purpose for running for this position is because I have a lifelong interest in education. I am aware of what a good education is for young people. Serving on the UT board gives me an opportunity to give back to the community. KEY ISSUE: I find key issues are "No Child Left Behind and Test Scores" which are mandated by the federal and state governments. However, neither the state or the federal government provides adequate funding for these mandates. COMMENTS: I am honored to have served United Township in the past and I look forward to serving in the future.
NAME: Dan Jecks AGE: 36 ADDRESS: Silvis OCCUPATION: H&R Block tax preparer FAMILY: Married; four children, ages 7 to 12 EDUCATION: Graduated from UTHS, bachelor's degree from Eastern Illinois University, doctorate in education from Western Illinois University OFFICE SOUGHT: UTHS School Board PRIOR OFFICE: Three terms on Silvis School Board WHY RUNNING: I joined the Silvis School Board when my kids were not quite yet going to school. I wanted to be part of the school and know what's going on before they got there. Now they are getting ready to go to UT, so I want to do the same. KEY ISSUE: I think probably the most important issue is making sure we can continue to provide programs and services for all types of students. UT also should be trying to attract families who are new to the Quad-Cities. COMMENTS: I also am on the Silvis Little League Board and the Junior Panthers Basketball Board. I think I'll bring the ability to represent a large number of parents who have children who'll be going up to UT.
NAME: Harry Arvanis AGE: Not listed ADDRESS: East Moline OCCUPATION: Retired teacher FAMILY: Wife, Linda; and children, Traci, Tina, Jodi, Todd, Scott and Brian EDUCATION: Doctorate in educational leadership POLITICAL PARTY: Not listed OFFICE SOUGHT: UTHS School Board PRIOR OFFICE(S): Served two previous terms on the school board and 29 years on the park board WHY RUNNING: It has been my lifelong goal to to make the education of our children as good as we can. KEY ISSUE: Acquiring the funds necessary to provide the educational experience our children need. Providing teachers with the training necessary to meet new legislative requirements.