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Who is running for Urbana School Board?

Urbana School District has two contested races in the consolidated election, happening tomorrow, April 6th. Urbana operates differently than other area school districts, in that they have divided the city into sub-districts. Each sub-district then has a representative on the school board. This was enacted in 1998, in an effort to diversify representation on the board. It can also mean when there are contested races, school board members are elected with a relatively low number of votes, as turnout for these sorts of elections is typically low. 

So, if you are in Urbana School District sub-districts 3 or 7, make sure you get out there and cast your vote.

Sub-district 3

Current school board member Ruth Ann Fisher is not seeking another term, so there are two challengers. Connie Dillard-Myers and Lara Orr are running to represent this portion of the district, which covers a portion of east Urbana. Orr has been involved in the school district as a parent, volunteer, and mentor, but is new to local politics. Dillard-Myers previously served on the Champaign County Board. From their Champaign County Voters Alliance questionnaires:

Dillard-Myers: I am committed to listening to our community voices and collaborate with our partners across the community to meet the needs of our students and their families. In addition, I pledge to support our teachers, staff, and administrators to achieve their mission, vision, and goals.

Orr: Our public school system serves as a barometer for the health of our community. It is imperative to elect board members dedicated and informed to serve in the interest of the students and families that deserve the best our community can offer and YOUR vote matters. We can no longer rely on outdated systems that are not accommodating large portions of the student population. We need new ideas, we need to elect new board members, and we need community members to continue to hold those elected accountable.

Sub-district 7
Sandra Ahten is challenging current school board member, and former school board president John Dimit. Dimit has been on the Urbana School Board for 33 years, and is running for another two year term. Ahten is the parent and grandparent of Urbana students, and has been a community organizer, most notably helping to establish Books to Prisoners. Sub-district 7 covers southeast Urbana. From CCVA:
Ahten: Our school board must come together like a team to solve the challenges ahead. The pandemic has highlighted old problems in a new way — for example, unequal learning opportunities and easy access to technology. When in-person classes resume we will be integrating students who flourished and students who struggled. Teachers will need support and resources. It will be imperative to present and lead with innovation. We will need to use innovative thinking and NOT rest on the status quo.
Dimit: I am student-focused, all students. The best way to be student-focused with an equity lens is to discard all stereotypes while confronting their legacies in our schools, and view each student as a unique individual, with unique talents and needs. Every student is gifted in their own way and it is our responsibility to celebrate and develop those gifts, while providing the support required to meet areas of need. For each student to reveal and self-realize their “personal greatness”, it takes a multi-cultural staff that matches our diverse student body. I was instrumental in revising our contractual salary schedule that allows us to raise starting salaries so we can better attract the teachers needed to support this goal. The equity journey in USD 116 began decades ago, yet there is still much work required to truly meet the needs of our constantly changing student body.

Top image from Wikipedia Commons. 

Staff writer

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