Candidates for District 204 school board gathered at City Hall for the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation forum.
Natasha Grover, Mark Rising, Justin Karubas, and Gautam ‘GB’ Bhatia, were in attendance, with Carole Jones absent due to being out of town.
The NAHC asked two prepared questions for each candidate. One question posed was if candidates thought District 204 would need redistricting due to new residential developments around the area.
Rising, a current board member, wasn’t sure about the effect new developments would have on the district, but was clear he didn’t want elementary students to relocate.
“We don’t know what’s going to come out of the new developments whether it be Wagner Farms, or what may potentially happen in Springbrook, or what may potentially happen with the Route 59 plan that Aurora is planning,” said Rising. “What I will not support are additional shifts in the elementary schools because I think it was equitably unfair to some of the areas that get shifted around.”
Grover, also a current board member, said she would first try all other options before considering redistricting.
“It is a disruptive process and I want it to be the last resort that we would go to. Last year, we had to change boundaries for a couple of elementary schools on the north side, and it was an emotional situation with the parents,” Grover said. “It also cost us about $300,000 in transportation costs because we had to bus them to other schools.”
Candidates also answered questions from the audience. One asked was what more could be done for students with special needs.
Bhatia, who is seeking election for the first time, said the current STEPS program could use some improvement.
“This is a program that definitely needs additional funding and a better facility, so we can take care of our special needs population and make them contributing members of society,” Bhatia said. “I look forward to, if I’m in the board, working with all the stakeholders to enhance the program as needed.”
Karubas, a current board member, talked about a plan that would benefit every student.
“They talked about IEPs for kids with special needs. I think we’re going toward every student is going to get an individual education plan. That part of special needs education becoming inclusive with the general population, and I think that’s a good goal overall,” said Karubas.
Candidates will be competing for three open four-year seats in the upcoming election.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.