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Katie Bailey, Eileen Budde, and Richard Rykhus won seats on the District 65 School Board in the April 5 election, according to unofficial results posted by the Cook County Clerk’s Office. Keith Terry, an incumbent and currently president of the School Board, came in fourth in a field of five candidates.

Ms. Bailey, Ms. Budde and Mr. Rykhus will be sworn in and take office on May 2. The School Board will pay tribute to outgoing School Board members Bonnie Lockhart and Keith Terry.

Ms. Bailey, an incumbent currently serving as Chair of the Board’s Finance Committee, ran on her record as a member of the School Board for the last four years. She said her vision for the future is one of continued improvement in achievement for all children. She said she would like to implement college and career readiness, and also determine what readiness means for younger children – academically, socially and emotionally. She says she would also like to see continued improvement in the collaboration between Districts 65 and 202; increased expectations for middle school students; better and consistent data to measure achievement, family satisfaction and programs; maintenance of the schools and improvements in facilities; and financial stability.

“I am excited and honored by the privilege of serving the community for four more years,” Ms. Bailey told the RoundTable. “I’m looking forward to working with the new Board. Each of us needs to understand what’s important to other Board members to develop common goals. We need to collaborate with administrators, teachers, employees and with District 202. I trust we can get a lot of good work done.”

Ms. Budde holds a master’s in math education, and after working as a financial analyst for several financial institutions, taught math for about 14 years. She is currently PTA president of Nichols Middle School. One of her priorities is to prepare students to have the skills and creativity to compete with students in Indiana and California, India and China.  “We should benchmark ourselves against the best schools and use meaningful measures to evaluate our progress toward this goal,” she says. Other priorities include ensuring that all students are taught by highly qualified and motivated teachers, that teachers are provided the tools they need to help all children succeed, and that the Board be transparent and clearly communicate with parents.

She sees the role of the School Board as “setting high expectations, helping to achieve them and ensuring accountability.”

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve the community in a field I am passionate about,” Ms. Budde told the RoundTable. “The election results demonstrate that the voters value a Board that will be responsive to constituents, set high expectations for the District, and ensure that teachers and other staff have what they need to succeed with all of our children.

“I hope to visit all of our schools soon and I look forward to continuing conversations that were started during the campaign on several issues such as capacity needs, potential consolidation with School District 202, performance measurement, and how to best spend our limited resources.”

Mr. Rykhus holds a master’s degree in learning sciences and is currently director, strategic learning at Grant Thornton LLP

Mr. Rykhus told the RoundTable “The overarching theme I have relates to measure-based Board governance.” He said the Board needs to define success, establish measures of success, and evaluate programs and people against those measures. “This is one of the most important School Board activities,” he said.

Other priorities include developing a 10-year plan for the District’s space capacity needs; exploring a merger of Districts 65 and 202; ensuring recruitment and retention of top teachers and timely dismissal of those not meeting expectations; preparing for a collaborative teacher contract negotiation process; and enhancing Board relationships with parents and teachers.  

“The message from the election is the community clearly wants a change in the Board’s leadership,” said Mr. Rykhus. “People want stronger Board governance of the activities in our District. As a Board we need to respond to that. We need to be more rigorous in how we evaluate the programs and people in our District.”

 Mr. Terry, outgoing Board president, told the RoundTable, “I wish the new board all the best and of course my congratulations to the winners.”

As has been the pattern for School Board elections for many years, the voter turnout was relatively light. According to the Clerk’s records, there were 5,219 ballots cast, compared to 50,962 registered voters in District 65. About 10.2 percent of the registered voters cast a ballot in the election.

Breakdown of the Votes

The unofficial tally of the number of votes cast for each candidate for the District 65 School Board is as follows:

Katie Bailey – 3,673Richard Rykhus – 3,578Eileen Budde – 3,288Keith Terry – 2,073J.B. Rees – 533 

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...