Wanted: Applicants for the Champaign school board.
It's often said that being a school board member is a thankless task. When done right, it's a huge commitment. It takes lots of time, there's a lot to learn, there's no lack of controversy, and there's no pay. Being a school board member may be the height of public service. Yet when you talk to school board members, most of them will tell you that they take great satisfaction in the job.
Two former Champaign school board members who resigned recently will attest to that.
Former Champaign school board president Sue Grey, who resigned this week from the board after being appointed the president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Champaign County in November, said the long hours were made worth it at every graduation ceremony or visit to a school concert. She had been on the board since being elected in 2007.
"I have given a lot of energy and time to the school district, and I do not regret one minute of it," Grey said.
Tom Lockman, another Champaign school board member who resigned last week citing personal and professional reasons, also said he enjoyed his time on the board since he took his seat in April 2009.
There will be quite a turnover and loss of institutional memory on the seven-member board with the resignations of Grey and Lockman and the decision of board member and former president Dave Tomlinson not to run again. In addition, board member Greg Novak died last spring and the board appointed Ileana Saveley to fill his seat until the April 2013 election, and she intends to run for the seat.
Although the board is losing members who have served the district well, there's now an opportunity for others to step forward.
The school board is accepting applications until Jan. 8 from those interested in being appointed for a short time to fill Grey's and Lockman's seats. The remaining two years of Grey's term will be up for election in April, and Lockman's seat will be up for election.
Those interested in running can still pick up petitions and must have 50 registered voters who live within the school district sign them by the Dec. 26 deadline.