Updated: Champaign to seek new school board member after Lockman resignation

Updated: Champaign to seek new school board member after Lockman resignation

Updated 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school board will soon be looking for a new member after Tom Lockman resigned his seat earlier this week.

Lockman, who has been on the school board since April 2009, stepped down after a board meeting Monday.

He cited professional and personal reasons for his resignation Tuesday.

"I want to make it clear, I have full faith in everything that's going on in the district," he said. "The timing is such that, for personal and professional reasons, I need to step away at this point."

The school board's policy says the board must notify the regional office within five days of the vacancy, publicize and accept resumes for the open seat and appoint a new board member within 45 days. The board may interview candidates in open or closed session, according to the policy.

Superintendent Judy Wiegand said in a news release that the school district will work with the Regional Office of Education to fill the open seat for the remainder of the term.

Lockman said he'll continue to be interested and invested in the school district, as he'll still be a Champaign resident.

"It's a decision that certainly was not easy. It's something I thought a lot about," Lockman said. "When I considered everything, it was a decision I felt like I needed to make at this point."

When Lockman joined the board, the school district was still under the consent decree, and he believes the district has progressed in the years since.

"I truly believe that public education is the most critical aspect of a community's ability to succeed and develop, and that was something I wanted to be part of," Lockman said. "I really have enjoyed very much being a part of that."

The Champaign school district operated under a federal consent decree from 2001 to 2009, which required it to eliminate unwarranted disparities between black and white students in achievement, discipline, attendance, assignment to special education and access to gifted and honors classes, among other things.

Board President Stig Lanesskog said the group will miss Lockman.

"Tom has been a phenomenal member of our school board," Lanesskog said. "He has just provided incredible amounts of energy as an (alumnus) of Unit 4 schools, and we're going to really miss him."

Lockman's seat is up for election in April, as are the seats of Lanesskog and board member Dave Tomlinson, who will not run for re-election.

Also up for election is a two-year term created by the death of board member Greg Novak last spring. The board appointed Ileana Saveley last April to fill Mr. Novak's seat until the April 2013 election.

Saveley plans to run for re-election, she said in September. Lanesskog said Monday that he plans to run for the two-year term.

Petitions are still available for residents interested in running, and the filing period starts Monday. The deadline to turn in petitions is 5 p.m. Dec. 26.

Completed petitions must be turned in to the Champaign school district's Mellon Administrative Center, 703 S. New St., C.

Potential candidates can still pick up petitions during the filing period, and they must collect the signatures of 50 people who are registered to vote in the school district.

Seven petitions had been picked up at the Mellon center as of Tuesday afternoon.