|Six of the eight candidates for four open seats on the Galesburg School Board agree on a number of things.
The candidates met Wednesday night at Galesburg City Hall for a forum hosted by the Galesburg Planet and the Register-Mail, and broadcast live on WGIL.
The candidates agree on things like the fact that the federal No Child Left Behind Law just hasn't worked, building a new building may be better than overhauling the aging Silas Willard Elementary School, and even that there are parts of the new $110 million Master Facilities Plan that are good, and that the sales tax increase should be paying for most of it.
So candidates were also asked about initiatives they'd bring to the table if they were elected. Outside-Galesburg Township candidate Natalie Kessler says she'd like to see some more career skills-based classes added.
"Make that available to more students, and make that available at an earlier age," Kessler said. "That can be a mentoring program of a new style."
Inside Galesburg Township candidate Kathryn Timmons says she'd like to see the school board be more open.
"I think it's important for the school board to have an open forum with parents," Timmons said, "so that the expectations are not only enunciated by the individual schools, but also by school board members."
Rhonda Brady, running for one of the two open seats outside Galesburg Township, told the forum initially that she didn't know what the answer to that question would be.
But Brady thought about it, and later suggested improving school for junior high students.
"I would like to see the options available to the Junior High kids for expanding beyond the core curriculum, to allow the Junior High kids to do more hands-on things," Brady said.
In-Galesburg Township candidate Molly Palmer suggested something that could, in a way, lead to a larger school year.
"I thought it would be nice to have a summer school," Palmer said, "where it was not remedial, it was enrichment. And it was low-stress, four-hours a week."
Palmer says she and some others formed such a thing last summer for hers and other children, and she feels it was a success.
Faye Schultz from inside Galesburg Township, says she'd like to improve race relations if she's elected.
"Teaching tolerance, improving diversity, improving understanding of each other within the schools," Schultz said. "That's not part of any specific curriculum."
Schultz says that would help improve the entire community and students' feelings in it.
But incumbent from outside Galesburg Township, Mike Panther, says none of that may ever happen.
"As a board member you spend -- my experience...board members don't really come up with plans, or act out plans," Panther said.
Panther says the exception to that would be that a part of superintendent Gene Denisar's contract is a clause urging a long-term plan for the district's facilities, which has turned out to be the district's Master Facilities Plan.
Candidate Tom Coclasure could not attend the forum due to a work conflict, while incumbent Gloria Osborn refused to participate, according to Galesburg Planet's Mike Kroll.
Hear the entire debate by CLICKING HERE (approximately 1 hour, 40 minutes long, mp3 format)
(Left to Right: Molly Palmer, Faye Schultz, Kathryn Timmons, Mike Panther, Natalie Kessler, Rhonda Brady.)
(A group watches the forum from Galesburg City Hall.)
(Rhonda Brady answers a question posed by moderators Tom Martin and Mike Kroll. WGIL News Story and Photos by Will Stevenson.)