People casting ballots in Lane Tech College Prep High School‘s Local School Council election could be forgiven for thinking they pulled a Cook County judicial ballot by mistake.
School leaders confirmed at Monday night’s LSC Candidates Forum that 14 Lane Tech parents are now running for six available seats on the council. All but one incumbent parent will seek re-election; council Chairman Gary Gruenewald is stepping down. In all, nine parent candidates addressed the forum or attended the LSC meeting that followed; the only incumbent not to attend either session was Chicago police officer Norma Vega.
Lane Tech Principal Antoinette LoBosco attributed the large field of candidates to the decision by Chicago Public Schools to extend the deadline to enter the race, as well as a new pool of parents whose children are part of the Lane Tech Academic Center (LTAC) program. The LTAC program gives seventh- and eighth-graders the opportunity to attend Lane Tech for up to six years. The program is in its first year at Lane Tech, but is in place at six other CPS high schools.
Candidate Martha Barbeo cited her seventh-grader’s success in the LTAC program as one of the reasons she decided to run for an LSC seat. “It’s just incredible how my little boy is thriving at this school,” she said during the forum. Candidate Gigi Kane’s son is also an LTAC student, and she said she’s running in part so that she can have an impact on the program. “These kids are going to be here for six years,” she said. “In terms of the investment of time, it’s so well worth it … I’m hoping that with being here that long, I’ll have been able to be a part of some of the growing that the Academic Center could provide for the upperclassmen.”
Incumbent candidate Angelo “Tony” Torres pointed to the launch of the LTAC as the biggest achievement of the Lane Tech LSC during his tenure. “The process to get it completed was quite extensive,” he said. “I don’t think that anybody was expecting, especially the principal, to get it accomplished in that time frame, and I think everybody banded together and did a tremendous job.”
Maria Bougher, another incumbent, cited the selection of LoBosco as the highlight of her seven years on the LSC. “Just going through the interview process … it was very interesting,” she said.
Several candidates, such as two-term incumbent Deborah Taus-Barth, cited extensive knowledge of CPS policies and procedures as being strong points of their bids. “I’ve been involved in CPS for 14 years, so I think I know how the system works, even though it’s ever-changing,” she said.
At a forum attended by just a handful of non-LSC members or hopefuls, only candidate Carmen Mendoza seemed to address the apparent lack of engagement in the LSC process. “(Getting) parents more involved and engaged is critical. It always goes down at the high school level,” she said, looking out at the mostly-empty lecture hall lined with pictures of notable Lane Tech alumni. “I was surprised that this forum was … not being held in the auditorium.”
High school LSC elections will be held April 19, 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. Meet all the LSC candidates running for elementary and high school seats at RVJ‘s candidate forum, April 11, 7 p.m., at the Athenaeum Theater.