School Board welcomes new member

By on September 13, 2013

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board has had a vacant seat since last month.

It’s now filled.

All board members present on Monday agreed to appoint Peter Lopatin to the position. Board Vice President Teresa Witt was absent from the meeting.

Lopatin, a Sugar Grove resident, stood up from the audience to stand in front of the board while waiting for them to vote. Jerry Elliott, a Sugar Grove Township resident who was a candidate for the board position, was also present. Board President Cheryl Krauspe read the oath to serve and Lepatin repeated the words.

He then received a round of applause.

Lopatin was then seated with the rest of the board. Kaneland School District Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler placed information in front of the School Board’s latest addition, including a binder and folder.

“No Monday night football for you,” board member Pedro Rivas said.

Krauspe told Lopatin that the board would be able to assist him by mentoring him.

“I certainly appreciate that,” Lopatin said.

Diane McFarlin, who is Lopatin’s wife and the assistant principal of Kaneland High School, sat in the audience.

The need for a new board member came after former board member Joe Oberweis resigned because he and his family were moving to Batavia. Oberweis, president and CEO of Oberweis Dairy and son of state Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, had been elected to serve a four year term in 2011.

Five candidates from Aurora and Sugar Grove submitted letters of interest and resumes to apply for the open seat.

Elliott called running for the Kaneland School Board “a nice experience.”

“Well, absolutely, I want to congratulate him,” Elliott said of Lopatin. “And I knew going in that there were people much more qualified than me, especially in the field of education. Not necessarily in finance or dedication.”

Lopatin, a president of Godeep Systems, comes to the board with experience in health care and nonprofit organizations. Standing by his new seat after the meeting, he spoke about how it felt to be a new board member.

“I am excited and honored to have this opportunity to serve the community,” Lopatin said. “I’m looking forward to this.”

He said that he does not have a specific issue that he currently wants to address, but called everything “important.”

Krauspe commented about the candidates and the new board member after the meeting.

“All those five candidates were very worthy candidates,” she said. “They all brought something different. But we feel that Peter will make a good fit.”

The Kaneland School Board previously met for a special meeting on Saturday afternoon to interview candidates to fill a vacant board seat.

According to Schuler, there were no guests present and the meeting lasted three and a half hours.

Schuler said that during executive session the board interviewed five candidates. He added that he believed that the board deliberated on the five candidates.

Candidates interested in serving the district had submitted letters of interest and recommendations to the Kaneland School Board.

The candidates included: Lopatin, Elliott, Adam Parks of Aurora, Monica Kellen of Sugar Grove and Carolyn Decatur of Sugar Grove.

Parks, an independent advisor for First Command Financial Services, is a parent of two children at McDole Elementary School.

“I have been looking to get more involved in matters that are closer to my own home and where I feel I can make the biggest positive impact,” Parks wrote in his letter.

Kellen has work experience as a training and curriculum development manager and has served on boards and committees.

“Quality of education and student achievement is very important to me,” Kellen wrote.

Elliott, Sugar Grove Water Authority Board trustee and treasurer, has been a factory superintendent and vice president in businesses.

“My business experience provides insight into school business transactions and financial transparency to serve both the public’s investment into our education system while seeking the highest delivery quality for our children,” Elliott wrote in his resume.

Decatur, a regulatory analyst for IHS, a global information company, is a mom of three and has two children that go to McDole Elementary School.

“As a mother, I am interested in learning more about the process in which we decide what happens in our schools, as well as becoming more involved in that process,” Decatur wrote.

“I think certainly from their application materials you can see the level of qualification they bring to the board,” Schuler said. “They all brought strengths potentially to the Board of Education.”