UPDATED 10 p.m. Monday
CHAMPAIGN – Ileana Saveley will be Champaign's newest school board member after being chosen Monday night.
The school board announced Saveley as the new board member after hosting open interviews for eight applicants, then deliberating in closed session.
Saveley talked in the interviews about connecting with Spanish-speaking parents and supporting children who enter school who aren't able to speak English.
Saveley said she was nervous and excited when school board President Sue Gray announced her as the new board member.
“I'm ready for a challenge,” Saveley said, “and I am committed to doing the best I can do.”
She said she's looking forward to talking with community members and parents and gathering ideas and suggestions from them.
Saveley, 33, has one son who attends Jefferson Middle School and one who attends Champaign's early childhood center.
She moved to the area in 1996 from Chicago to attend the University of Illinois. She met her husband here, she said, and they stayed because “we thought this would be the best place to raise our children,” because of the diversity and good schools.
She'll be sworn in at the next school board meeting April 23. She fills the seat left open when board member Greg Novak died last month.
Grey encouraged all of the applicants to run for the final two years of Novak's term, which will be up for election next April. Grey said she believes that board member Dave Tomlinson will not be seeking re-election and board members Stig Lanesskog and Tommy Lockman's seats will also be up for re-election.
The other candidates were:
Grey said the board had a difficult decision to make, but she felt confident in Saveley's future contributions to the school board.
“She'll be a nice addition to the team,” Grey said, adding that she was inspired by Saveley's comment during the interviews that she was ready to serve.
“I look forward to getting to know Ileana and having her participate in board discussions,” Grey said.
The announcement of Saveley's appointment came after school board members spent more than an hour in executive session after asking eight candidates the same four questions.
The school board asked about learning environments, the applicants' person and professional experiences, how they'd like to see the progress of the now-expired consent decree furthered and how community members, staff members and parents should weigh in on decision-making in the school district.
Several of the applicants discussed included things like better communication between school board and community, diversity of staff, equality in the classroom and the need to connect more with the community to help provide for the needs of students.
Some applicants mentioned several times the things important to them – Schultz said his three largest concerns are communication, trust and climate, and for Savage, a concern about minority students dropping out and needing more support.
Brady spoke of her experience as a teacher and as a researcher at the University of Illinois, where she does a lot to support new teachers. She said she is able to view school districts state and nationwide from a broad perspective through her work.
Frye spoke of his children attending Dr. Howard Elementary, Edison Middle School and Central High School, three of the older buildings that come up when school board and district officials talk about buildings in need of renovations. He also develops applications dealing with the Common Core State Standards, which will be required for math and English in 2014-15.
Young talked about her work at the UI's Childcare Resource Center, and expressed a desire to help the school district collaborate with other entities and work with community members to help support students; Bruno talked about how going through the Champaign schools helped him understand diversity and persistence. Bonnett spoke about her work with the Urban League and now with State Sen. Michael Frerichs, and how it's given her perspective on diversity throughout the community and with what's happening with education on a state level.