One of the concerns of the School District 51 Board of Education is how voters will approach the $179.5 million bond measure on this fall's ballot.
They would prefer that voters simply look at the district's physical needs. But they seem to recognize the strong potential that the bond measure is really a referendum on district leadership.
If voters have reservations about the board in the wake of the Haptonstall fiasco, they have a funny way of showing it. Nobody has stepped up to challenge two of the school board members up for re-election.
The deadline to submit a petition with 50 valid signatures to get on the ballot was 4 p.m. Friday. Paul Pitton and Doug Levinson submitted their petitions, which have been verified. As a result they're running for re-election unopposed.
Logic would seem to dictate that the absence of opposition candidates seeking to change the makeup of a fairly cohesive board is a good sign that the board has not only weathered the Hapstonstall storm, but has recaptured the community's confidence. But let's not kid ourselves.
Apathy is the more likely explanation. It's easier to criticize board members than to make the considerable commitment to serve the community in one of its most important, yet thankless, roles.
Still, we would hope that voters apply some consistency to the circumstances. Pitton and Levinson are part of a board that has offered a specific vision for improving the state of District 51 schools. We've entrusted them to make tough decisions, which they've done. Levinson, in particular, is seeking re-election to support bond measure 3A and see through a commitment to make the district "strong."
The district has a great opportunity with Dr. Diana Sirko at the helm as superintendent, Levinson told the Sentinel's Katie Langford, "and I want to have that leadership filter through our system."
It should stand to reason that if Pitton and Levison see greater taxpayer support of our schools as critical to the district's long-term goals — and they face no opposition — then their judgment should be instructive.
It doesn't work that way, of course. Political opponents may have forced Pitton and Levinson to defend some board decisions. But at some point, if we're unwilling to challenge those willing to serve, we have to support the direction they want to take us.