New leadership emerges as Naperville-area school districts seat new boards
After sailing to reelection last month with the most votes of all 11 candidates, Laurie Donahue has also emerged as the next Indian Prairie Unit District 204 school board president.
The Naperville resident, who won her second four-year term in the April 6 election, was sworn in Monday along with fellow one-term incumbent Susan Taylor-Demming and newcomers Supna Jain and Allison Fosdick. The new board then unanimously chose Donahue, former board secretary, to take the helm as president, replacing Michael Raczak, whose term has expired.
Board member Mark Rising, who was first elected in 2011, was approved as vice president, and Taylor-Demming was selected as secretary.
After serving two terms on the school board, Raczak did not seek reelection this spring, nor did longtime board member Cathy Piehl, who was first appointed to fill an unexpired term in 2008.
Raczak ended his tenure Monday by praising district educators for navigating remote learning, Zoom meetings, abnormal in-person schedules and entirely new instructional methods as "the education world change dramatically" in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The board of education received thousands of letters sharing differing opinions. But almost universally, there was one common theme, and that is our teachers, support staff and principals were amazing,"
Raczak said. "Please know that our board of education recognized the demands you faced every day. We know you worked harder than ever before."
Most impressive, he added, has been their expressions of care, love and comfort to students and school community members.
"Teaching is hard work," said Raczak, a former principal at Indian Prairie schools. "Teaching with love is even harder work, yet it is our greatest work."
Naperville Unit District 203 also seated its new school board Monday and renewed Kristin Fitzgerald's position as president.
Elected to her third term last month, Fitzgerald was one of three incumbents -- including Charles Cush and Donna Wandke -- to retain their seats. They were sworn in alongside newly elected board member Amanda McMillen, a licensed clinical social worker and mom of three District 203 students.
As the only board member to receive a nomination for the presidency, Fitzgerald secured her position in the board's top leadership role.
After serving the last four years as vice president, Wandke said she supported a regular transition of the position and nominated board member Kristine Gericke as her successor. Both leadership roles were unanimously approved.