Listen to this article

Amy Armstrong, Chris Kloeppel, Kathy Shannon and Lee McDonald get nod to lead Champaign school district.

Voters in the Champaign school district this year have the luxury of choosing from among a smorgasbord of candidates for the four seats up for election.

While incumbent Kathy Richards has opted not to see a second term, three incumbents — Amy Armstrong, Chris Kloeppel and Kathy Shannon — are.

They are being challenged by Jennifer Enoch, Michael Foellmer, Lee McDonald, Elizabeth Sotiropoulos, Sergio Gonzalez and Alica Robinson.

What is somewhat interesting about the election is that the incumbents — Armstrong, Kloeppel and Shannon — are campaigning together, while three challengers — Sotiropoulos, Enoch and Foellmer — are doing the same.

While not supportive of all the decisions the current board has made, the incumbents worked hard to pass and implement the massive school building and renovation plan approved by voters. They also hired the current superintendent, who has been effective, and are looking to build on the work they have completed. In that context, voters would be well advised to support Armstrong, Kloeppel and Shannon for re-election.

Regarding the fourth position, our choice is McDonald. He's running to push for increased emphasis on primary school education, describing third grade as the "tipping point" that can determine whether students will be successful as they move through grade, middle and high school.

McDonald also wants to "see more options and training for students who won't get to college, specifically in the trades."

That's a good idea, considering the demand for skilled workers and how well positions like electricians, carpenters and plumbers pay.

Public schools in Champaign, like those everywhere, face a variety of serious challenges — finances and discipline to name just two.

But the most serious is doing whatever is necessary and achievable to see that all children, no matter what their family background or socio-economic status, have access to a quality education.

For a variety of reasons, that's a tough nut to crack.

It's our view three incumbents Kloeppel, Armstrong and Shannon plus McDonald will work hard to achieve that important goal and deserve the opportunity to do so.