Seven candidates are running for four seats on the school board in District 118 and the new board will definitely have some new faces after next week’s election.
Two incumbents, Katie Thomason and James Cantorna, are not running for re-election, which means at least two new board members will be coming in for Palos Community Consolidated District 118 when it reconvenes after the April 6 election.
One of the incumbents running for re-election is Terrence Heafey, who is teamed up with newcomers Susan Szafranski and Jennifer Jensen.
The other incumbent seeking to win a four-year term is Donald Jeanes, who won a two-year unexpired term in the 2019 election.
Also running are Timothy Baker, Mark Kelly, and Edward Gal.
Jeanes is a general contractor and developer for Jeanes Construction Co., which he launched over 40 years ago. He is a former trustee of the Palos Fire Protection District, a former Palos Park commissioner, and Palos Park mayor.
Heafey, Jensen, and Szafranski are campaigning together. In their platform, they said they “We will listen to and be respectful of all stakeholders: students, parents, community members, teachers, and administration. We look forward to an open dialogue with anyone. We will answer all questions and will never allow anyone to feel excluded from the conversation about our schools. A Voice for All means we will work with you to do what is best for our kids, our schools, and our community.”
Kelly is a teacher in Chicago Heights who has two children who attend Palos West and Palos South.
“First, teachers should be part of every community’s school board,” he said. “My kids have utilized many incredible programs and services across Palos 118, including reading specialists, nursing, and accelerated learning opportunities. I have seen first-hand that a successful school district requires a big team of devoted and expert faculty and staff. As we all paid closer attention to how school would restart last fall, I noticed that there were no teachers on the school board. As a teacher and parent myself, I strongly believe that teachers should be a part of every community’s school board.”
Tim Baker said, “Now more than ever we have seen the importance of our teachers. I commend them for the flexibility and ingenuity they have displayed this school year. Teachers are the foundation of our schools, and our Palos 118 staff is the reason for the district’s continued success. I pledge to work with district staff by supporting the vital resources they need in the ever-evolving world of educating our children. Adding resources and initiatives to assist teachers in making gains in student learning and achievement, bolstering social/emotional learning, providing continued guidance with technology, and ensuring a safe work environment are paramount to student success.”
Gal owns a licensed real estate brokerage and an accounting firm in Palos Hills for the past 20 years.
“I will always put the needs of the kids and community above all else. Kids need to be in class period. Sports, clubs, after-school, and extracurricular activities need to start normalizing again safely. Teachers and staff need the resources and support so that they can best do their jobs. Teachers and Administrators need to work together, always focusing on their sole purpose, doing what’s best for the kids they are entrusted with.”