Galesburg School Board Candidates Seek Improved Relationships
After next week's municipal elections, the Galesburg Board of Education will include two new representatives from Galesburg Township. Incumbents Molly Palmer and Tom Colclasure chose to seek another term.
The three candidates vying for the two spots are Phillips Slaton, Tianna Cervantez, and H. Wayne Statham. All three believe they can build a better relationship between the school board and teachers.
Slaton, who is a teacher in the Orion School District, said the current board lacks respect for teachers.
“We have to have a certain amount of civility and some people don’t want to be civil anymore,” Slaton said. “It’s not like they use vulgarity or anything like that. It’s more their demeanor and way they approach you when you’re negotiating.”
Slaton said he opposes using legal counsel for contract negotiations, preferring face-to-face talks between the board and the teachers’ union.
Cervantez also works in education --she's a professor at Knox College.
Cervantez said she would take a different approach than what was used during last summer’s teachers’ strike.
“One of my goals running for the board is to make sure that I understand what teachers are going through in the classroom, I respect that they’re doing their jobs, and hope that they’re going to in-like respect and trust that I have their best interest and the students’ best interest at heart working forward,” Cervantez said.
She said that, along with keeping lines of communication open with teachers, would help during the next contract talks.
Cervantez said she would also find out what the needs of the teachers in the district are.
The only non-teacher running in the race is H. Wayne Statham, who works as a lawyer in Galesburg.
Statham said he would try to involve the teachers’ union more during school board meetings as a way to improve communications.
He said that would include monthly reports at meetings.
“I think that if we make the GEA part of the board meeting and have them report to us, nobody can say that their concerns were not being heard,” Statham said.
Statham also would push for more town hall style forums between the district and the community to discuss issues that are of concern to the public.