Cynthia Turnquest D233_web
Local News

Voters Guide: Homewood-Flossmoor School District 233 Board of Education

See the profiles of candidates running for Homewood-Flossmoor School District 233 Board of Education in the March 2021 election.

Candidates (three 4-year terms):

  • Steven R. Anderson
  • Annette Ripani Bannon
  • Michelle Hoereth
  • Beth A. Larocca
  • Lakesha Spight
  • Cynthia W. Turnquest
  • Jimo (JK) Kasal

Steven R. Anderson, Homewood, age 50

Education: B.A. Broadcast Communication (University of Iowa, 1993); M.B.A. Finance (DePaul University, 1998)
Occupation: Twenty-six years in commercial banking and finance working across many industries and disciplines with experience in budgeting and underwriting credit needs for middle market companies.  Have served on many local boards including Ingalls Health System and The Community Board of the Cancer Support Center while volunteering for important organizations such as Special Olympics, Catholic Charities, South Suburban PADS and many more.
Current employer: Ally Bank
Family: Married to Laurie (H-F ’89) since 1994; four boys ages 21, 19, 17 and 15 (Two H-F graduates, two current students)
Incumbent: Yes; served on H-F School Board since 2017
Other elected positions: Homewood School District 153 Board of Education (2007-2017)

Most important issues:

  1. Student Outcomes. The success of the district’s student body includes preparing students for life after H-F through test preparedness, college counseling, applied academics and job placement, which are critical as we guide students towards challenging and rewarding pathways.
  2. Student Life. The district must maintain strong and wide-ranging offerings that are recognized by the top secondary schools, as well as local employers looking for skilled workers.
  3. Staff. A respectful and rewarding relationship between staff and administration is tantamount to a successful school environment.
  4. Administrative Leadership. District leadership must lead by example and maintain the trust and respect of staff and community.
  5. Environment. H-F must maintain a healthy, safe and effective environment for learning and achievement creating safe and effective strategies to get students back in the classroom so students and staff can be together to achieve the best outcomes. Our district must embrace its diversity so we can learn about and appreciate what makes us unique.
  6. District finances. Continuing to be a good steward of the district’s finances working closely with the business office and external advisors to review and understand all of the challenges we might face as a result of the state’s fractured financial picture.

Goals: I will continue to focus on the issues listed above as I believe they are the important cornerstones of our school community.  My vision for H-F is simple, and it hasn’t changed since I was first elected in 2017. I believe every child living in our community deserves a world class education that first prepares them for high school and then for life after high school. Whether that path includes continuing their education or entering the work force directly, our students must be ready. I believe that the entire community must support, protect and nurture that education with energy and enthusiasm as there is no higher priority than preparing our kids for their futures. All letters of the alphabet are welcome at H-F and while we may not be able to change the world, we can certainly carve out a corner and make it as good as we can for our children and our neighbors.


Annette Ripani Bannon, Homewood, age 61

Education: A.D.N., Prairie State College, 1979; B.S.N., Purdue University, 1981
Occupation: Registered nurse for 40-plus years; worked in several capacities in nursing; various leadership roles for 38-plus years; currently work as a nurse manager on a Medical/Surgical/Post Trauma unit; functioned as interim nurse manager on a COVID nursing unit during 2020 pandemic.
Current employer: Mount Sinai Hospital
Family: Two sons, Sean and Ian, H-F graduates class of 2010 and 2013. 
Incumbent? Yes, board member for last 4 years.
Other elected positions? None, but I currently represent HFHS on the SPEED District 802 governing board.

Most important issues: 

  1. Improve transparency/communication to all stakeholders.
  2. Reduce expenditures while maintaining high academic standards.
  3. Improve overall/individual test scores.
  4. Consistent processes for decision making in all aspects (financial, personnel, academic decisions, etc.)

Goals: 

  1. Improved transparency/communication: all financial information on website for public viewing; videotaping board meetings; sharing community comments in full disclosure.
  2. Reduced expenditures; examine closely expenses and reduce without sacrificing quality of education.
  3. Improved test scores/reduced achievement gap.
  4. Residency enforcement.

Michelle Hoereth, Flossmoor, no age given

Education: Ph.D. Candidate, Educational Policy,  University of Illinois at Chicago; M.Ed., University of Illinois at Chicago; M.A., Urban Policy, Rutgers University; B.A., Economics, Howard University
Current employer: University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy, Assistant Dean of Diversity & Inclusion
Family: Married to husband Joseph Hoereth; four sons: Caleb, 19; Ian, 16; Noah,13; Grant, 7
Incumbent: No
Other elected positions: currently president, Board of Education, Flossmoor SD 161

Most important issues:         

  1. Making sure our energy and resources are properly placed on post-COVID successes of our students.  
  2. Properly planning for community engagement to ensure that parents are working in partnership with us and are an integral part of our success.  
  3. Ensuring the fiscal soundness of H-F and making sure we capitalize on investments we’ve already made. 
  4. Making sure the board is doing its part to create an environment conducive to maximum learning. This means tooling our teachers with what they need, making sure our curriculum and our programs are supporting and challenging all of our learners, 
  5. Working to remove barriers to learning, and being intentional with our efforts to be inclusive. 

This is a beautifully diverse district and we have to make sure we are thinking about equity. I have experience with district leadership changes, so I want to make sure a smooth transition occurs as Dr. Mansfield (superintendent) plans for retirement (in June 2022). It will be important for us to remain committed and be held accountable to the district’s strategic plan. We also have to create space to clearly articulate and address our areas of opportunities and have candid conversations about challenges.  As a board, we have to be okay with having difficult conversations.  

Goals: Work as a team to continue to move the district forward. A strong district requires a highly functioning board, courageous leadership, and fully support teachers. We also want to make sure we have successfully created an environment where our commitment to the academic success of every single student who comes through HF is never questioned.  We can respectfully engage in discourse, reflect on both good and bad decisions, but move together as a district because of our unwavering commitment to our students. I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the Board for Flossmoor SD 161 for the past 6 years (fourth year as president) and I hope to add value to SD 233 and bring with me best practices and many lessons learned. Every single school district is a “work in progress” which essentially means that we should always be growing, learning, and challenging ourselves to do better. We should be clear on our portrait of a graduate and ensuring that all students leave H-F with the skills needed to get them to the next leg of their journey, while appreciating that not everyone’s journey is the same. I believe in the possibilities of our students and this district and there is no doubt that H-F can be one of the best high schools in the state.  


Beth A Larocca, Flossmoor, age 62

Education: B.B.A. Accounting, University of Notre Dame, 1980; M.A. Reading, Texas Women’s University, 1996; M.A. School Administration, Loyola University, 2005
Occupation: Accountant, Crate & Barrel Store Manager, Academic Support for Student Athletes at Southern Methodist University, Teacher, Administrator, At-Risk Coordinator
Current employer: Retired as of May, 2020
Family: My parents, Tom and Pat; sister Cathy; and my brother, Tom, and his wife Marge, all live in Homewood. My brother, Luke, and his wife, Katie, live in Flossmoor.
Incumbent? Yes, 4 years served
Other elected positions? None
Most important issues: 

  1. Greater transparency – the administration should be more transparent and improve communication with board members and the community.
  2. Fiscal responsibility – due to the state’s financial position and COVID, the administration will likely be looking at some financial constraints and will need to “do more with less;” they will need to find ways to reduce expenditures while maintaining high academic standards.
  3. Closing the achievement gap – the achievement gap continues to widen. There is much work to be done to improve student test scores.
  4. Consistency in process and policy adherence – we need good, consistent processes for decision making. Sometimes we have no process and other times, processes are inconsistent.

Goals: 

  1. I will keep working toward greater transparency from the administration to both the board and our community.  In the spirit of transparency, I will continue to advocate for getting important information to the public, for example:  financial information (including tax levy computation figures) should be available to the public via the school website; video recording board meetings; and publicly responding to public inquiries made by the community which could be of interest or benefit to the community.
  2. I will continue to work toward closing the achievement gap and ensuring equity, which should lead to higher academic achievement and improved student test scores (which affect our School Report Card).
  3. I will continue to work toward greater residency enforcement.
  4. I will continue to seek and suggest ways to reduce expenses without sacrificing the quality of education as high taxes are a concern in our community and our state’s financial outlook is grim.

Lakesha Spight, Homewood, age 43

Education: B.S. Business Administration, Aurora University, 2016; M.B.A., Aurora University, 2018; Master of Social Work, Aurora University, 2018
Occupation: Multiple assignments over 20 years in the public school system including lunchroom attendant, paraprofessional, school secretary, bookkeeper, accounting clerk, substitute teacher and board recording secretary.
Current employer: Community Consolidated School District #168
Family: Married with four children.
Incumbent? No
Other elected positions? None

Most important issues: To enhance the board by providing multiple perspectives (student, parent, staff and community member) when considering decisions. All school board decisions affect each stakeholder in a different manner. It is very important to me to be a resource to the board when considering how to address matters. These decisions affect many stakeholders with different obligations. My understanding of multiple perspectives will enable the board to serve with greater fidelity and efficiency. Homewood Flossmoor High School can multiply its progression as one of the best high schools in Illinois, if the school board is able to see multiple views.

Goals: If elected, my primary goal is to be a resource for all the stakeholders (students, teachers and parents) to create equity and uniformity. I am passionate about being an advocate and a voice for the students in our school system. My experience as a school employee, social worker, business associate, and parent constitutes an ideal perspective as a school board member. My experience produces a unique and valuable perspective, one that can empathize with most stakeholders from their perspective, while prioritizing students.  If I am elected, it will be a great opportunity to fully fulfill the school board’s goals and the district’s strategic plan with ease.


Cynthia W. Turnquest, Flossmoor, age 52

Education: M.S., National-Louis University, 1997; B.A., Loyola University Chicago, 1989
Occupation: My career spans over 30 years in the nonprofit sector, the last 10 years, with The Cancer Support Center as the director of outreach & strategic partners.
Current employer: The Cancer Support Center
Family: Married to Eric Turnquest for 28 years; two sons: Matthew, a sophomore at The Ohio State University, and Benjamin, a senior at HFHS
Incumbent? No
Other elected positions? I was a SD161 PTO member for 10 years, and now am on the Executive Board of the Homewood-Flossmoor Parent Association (HFPA) where I function as a parent liaison and support resource to H-F leadership and administration. I am a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., one of the largest public service sororities in the nation.

Most important issues:

  1. Ensure the standard of academic excellence and psycho-social health and well-being of students, instructors and staff are prioritized and maintained, while making certain that ALL students’ academic needs are met regardless of academic level or area of interest.
  2. Collaborate with the director of finance and the H-F administration to guarantee the district continues to be a good steward of the school’s $58 million budget; continue to work with state legislators to manage property tax relief without sacrificing the needs and necessities of the school district.
  3. Work to maintain the high caliber of instructional staff; support and encourage teacher professional growth and advancement; work toward ensuring a diverse teaching community that reflects the landscape of our student population.

Goals: The success of any thriving school system relies on the commitment and engagement of the community that it serves. As a result, I am specifically interested in contributing to the growth and enrichment of emerging new programming in addition to the expansion of existing programs. I would like to contribute my extensive experience in outreach, advocacy and communication to expand all areas of programming by fostering greater collaboration between H-F staff/administration and the community as a whole. For example, I would like to participate in the advancement of program curriculum and diversity for the new $14 million fine arts facility expansion. By expanding the channels of communication and avenues for community input, we can actively support the execution of program development in order to ensure maximum outcomes.


Jimo (JK) Kasali  —  NO RESPONSE 

 

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