Challengers Sweep Incumbents in Oswego School District 308 Race
Apr 08, 2015 12:27AM ● Published by Steven Jack
From left: Brad Banks, Lauri Doyle and Jared Ploger
Voters in Oswego School District 308 sent a clear message in Tuesday night’s election: it’s time for a change.
All three incumbents were voted off the board with challengers Brad Banks, Lauri Doyle and Jared Ploger set to take the place of Alison Swanson, Brent Lightfoot and write-in incumbent Bill Walsh.
“It’s an amazing day for our kids,” Doyle said shortly after the votes were totaled Tuesday night. “This sends a message that parents want our district back, and it’s time to put families first.”
Unofficial totals showed Banks with the most votes with 3,283, Doyle with 3,217 and Ploger with 2,785. Swanson captured 1,998 votes, Kevin Harris 1,545, Lightfoot, 1,518 and Walsh 178.
Serving on the School Board will be no easy task for the trio, as many challenges lie ahead.
Not the least of which is the district’s $34 million in annual debt payments that could soar to $40 million in the coming years if not restructured.
Doyle, who has served on the board’s finance committee, said that restructuring work will need to be a top priority.
Restoring open communication with parents is another issue that must be quickly addressed, Ploger said. Regular open forums with parents that include Superintendent Matthew Wendt and all board members are a campaign promise Ploger said he aims to keep.
“Communication between parents and our board and administration is broken, and it needs repaired,” he said.
A vote to restore the district’s controversial Dual Language program for next school year will also be put on an upcoming School Board agenda, Ploger said. In a vote that angered many parents, the current board voted to dismantle the program in February in exchange for a one-way language immersion program for Spanish-speaking students.
“I’ve looked around to find information that tells me Dual Language isn’t best for students, and I haven’t found it,” Ploger said. “This is just best practice. Also, I have real concerns that the transition plan put in place for the Dual Language students is inadequate and would only harm those students.”
Ploger, who often has been openly critical of Wendt, said the new board will have to develop a positive working relationship with the superintendent.
“I’ve often heard Dr. Wendt say that he works at the direction of the board,” he said. “I’ll give him chance, and take him at his word on that.”