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ELECTION 2013: Eight to battle for four Dist. 111 seats

Crowded field vies for two vacated spots

Published: Thursday, April 4, 2013 4:17 p.m. CST

MINOOKA — The Minooka Community High School District 111 board of education has eight challengers for four seats.

Current board members Jim Butterbach and Jeff Wunderlich have opted not to seek re-election. Butterbach has been on the board since 2005 and Wunderlich since 2011.

Incumbent board members seeking re-election are current president Chris Kobe, Douglas Kaufman and Patti Ruettiger. Kaufman came on board to finish out an uncompleted four year term in 2011, while Ruettiger did the same two months ago. Ruettiger previously served a four-year term with District 111 ending in 2009. Kobe has served one full, four-year term to date.

Because 30 percent or more of taxable property within the high school district comes from unincorporated areas, at least two board members must be elected from that area.

Three district residents running from unincorporated areas are incumbent Ruettiger and newcomers Mike Brozovich and Sherry Schmidt. Running from incorporated areas are incumbents Kobe and Kaufman and newcomers Charles Hiscock, Wendi Arlis and Michelle Mullen.

Mike Brozovich

Brozovich is an operations manager for Exel Inc., a third-party logistics company. He is a life-long resident of Minooka and 1984 graduate of Minooka High.

As a parent, employee and manager of many employees, Brozovich sees the challenges in the future of the workforce, he said.

He believes educational growth and student development begins at home and is nourished through productive, positive educational experience.

Brozovich has served in several volunteer capacities within youth sports.

“Working with the current administration, my goal is to help facilitate an environment where Minooka High School graduates have every possible opportunity to achieve success as a student and a member of our society,” Brozovich said. “This will require fiscal responsibility, community involvement and a real connection with the student body and staff.”

Patti Ruettiger

Ruettiger served on District 111 board of education from 2005 to 2009. She was appointed board secretary for two years during that time and served on the special education, buildings and grounds and technology committees.

Ruettiger was appointed to fill an unexpired term in January. She is running again because she wants to see the district’s great education continue throughout the years.

“I believe that the district’s biggest challenge is to be able to maintain current programs that are available to the students while remaining fiscally responsible,” she said.

Ruettiger is a substitute teacher for Joliet School District 86 and has lived in the district for 12 years.

Sherry Schmidt

Schmidt is a retired District 111 a bus driver. She was also the administrative assistant to the transportation director for District 111 and Minooka Grade School District 201. She is a lifelong Minooka resident.

While her children attended Minooka schools, Schmidt volunteered in many capacities in both school and sports.

After 25 years of service to the district, Schmidt believes she can apply her knowledge of personnel, finance and sports programs and have a hand and voice in the decisions. She wants the district to stay focused on quality education in light of tough economics, keep up with future technology and remain focused on areas that don’t take away from educational needs.

“MCHS is on the top in so many areas of education, music, and sports programs due to our educators and coaches,” said Schmidt. “It is important for board members to stay open-minded and focus on making MCHS the best place it can possibly be for every student and employee walking the halls of MCHS.”

Charles Hiscock

A district resident since 2005, Hiscock is the associate principal at Downers Grove North High School, and will become principal of West Aurora High School effective July 1. His community involvements for the past seven years have been in the area of youth sports.

Hiscock believes his background in educational administration, school improvement and school law benefit to the board of education.

The biggest challenge facing the district is inertia and resistance to needed change, he said.

“When considering the broader picture, the way to address inertia is to hire competent administrators, teachers and instructional leaders who will make every decision based upon what is good for the kids of Minooka High School, not what is good for themselves or a particular constituency group,” he said. “The board then can take a “balcony view” and address matters of policy without micro-managing things best left to school-level administrators.”

Doug Kaufman

Kaufman has served on District 111 board for the past two years. He serves on the Grundy Area Vocational Center, curriculum, personnel and transportation committees. 

He has been an educator for 21 and is department chair for Orland Park District 230. He has lived in the district for over 16 years and is a volunteer coach for Channahon Park District.

The mission of MCHS is to inspire and motivate students with an educational experience that leads to achievement and success, he said.

The biggest challenge facing the district is providing quality, well-rounded education while maintaining a balanced budget. Ideally he would have the state invest more in education and live up to its commitment.

“However, with that unlikelihood, the district will have to continue to be fiscally responsible, making difficult decisions,” he said. “Improved communication with stakeholders will be an essential part of maintaining a quality educational experience at Minooka Community High School.”

Chris Kobe

Kobe currently serves as the president on the board of education. She has served policy, personnel, special education and co-curricular committees during her term. She is a 21-year Minooka resident. She has been a Certified School Nurse for Plainfield District 204 for eight years. She has been active in school related community organizations for eight years and is a member of the Illinois Association of School Boards.

Her experience in education for 19 years provides her with a sound working knowledge of how to help students succeed in their academic careers. She has a vested interest in fiscally responsible for the district while providing the best possible educational experience preparing children for future endeavors.

“Last year we implemented a $2.1 million expenditure reduction and successfully maintained our high academic standards,” Kobe said. “I believe the district needs to continue to look for ways to tighten our spending while improving students’ academic achievement and maintaining student programs without increasing the tax levy to our stakeholders.”

Wendi Arlis

Arlis has been and is actively involved as a volunteer in her children’s schools throughout their elementary years. She served two years as PTO president and one as treasurer. She fought on behalf of Minooka Grade School District 201 referendum during exploding growth and is an advocate for daily physical education in the schools.

Arlis has attended monthly board meetings for many years as a way of keeping informed about issues the district was experiencing.

Arlis has been a Minooka resident since 2003.

Arlis believes parents and taxpayers should be part of the process when big decisions are made by the board. The board must maintain a sense of inclusion of all decisions so that the community feels “welcomed at the table” and that they have a voice through the people elected to serve them. 

“I am running for the high school board because I want to take my volunteer work to the next level,” said Arlis. “I feel that our board of education should not only provide the policy and oversight to our school administrators, but should remain open to the community.“

Michelle Mullen

Mullen is a 41-year resident of the district and has been employed for 13 years as a special education teacher by the Grundy County Special Education Cooperative.

Muellen has served in multiple school related capacities, including staff development committee, handbook committee and ACT Testing Accommodations Coordinator. She is a Special Olympics coach and Girl Scout leader.

Mullen is a graduate of MCHS and wants to assure the school continues to live up to its long-standing reputation of providing quality educating and a caring environment for students to learn and prosper.

“It is important that (District) 111 is making the best use of the dollars they do have and that the money is being spent wisely and for the best of the students of MCHS,” Mullen said. “There have been so many changes at Minooka Community High School over the past several years that it is my hope that the students continue to be the main focus, even in the face of financial challenges.”

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