The race is set for open seats on the Norridge School District 80 Board of Education.
The petition filing period for the April 2 election ended on Dec. 15. Among those having filed were Kevin Moore, Louis Mezzano, Frank Tribuzio, Mary “Molly” Dec, Frank Stoffel, Sebastian “Sam” Palazzo, Oronzo “Renzo” Berardi and Michael Bellafiore.
Stoffel and Berardi are running for one available two-year term. The other six are running for four available four-year terms.
Palazzo and Berardi said the school board is in need of a change in direction.
“I feel that transparency, regaining the trust of the community, and working together as a team will help get the school district in the right direction,” Berardi said.
Palazzo added that, “I think it’s time for change in regards to the board.”
Stoffel said he feels he is in tune with the challenges the District faces.
“The two largest issues facing the board of education are limited funds and buildings in desperate need of repair,” he said. “The district is constantly fighting to do more with less. Our children deserve a top-notch education, and they deserve a school with modern amenities. You simply cannot compete in the 21stcentury with a 20thcentury facility and attitude.”
Stoffel touted his community involvement, saying that his volunteer experience includes serving as a baseball coach in Norridge and Niles, speaking at various schools for career days and drug awareness programs and raising money for various charities.
“If elected, I hope to bring a sense of pride to the district and community,” Stoffel said. “Some people in this community like to argue over simple things, while others are only concerned with serving their own interests. At the end of the day, we are all neighbors and need to work together to give our kids the best opportunities possible. I will continue to fight to give our kids a great education. I will continue to seek ways to improve security at our buildings. I will negotiate contracts that are fair to taxpayers. I will not make irresponsible decisions as a guardian of the taxpayers’ money.”
Palazzo said he is motivated to seek election to the board.
“The [key] to having the most productive and effective school begins with people, the adults who have the ability on a daily basis to make the difference in children’s lives,” he said. “If elected, I look to reunite and rejuvenate the district, so we can be at our best daily for the children and the stakeholders who have chosen to make Norridge and Harwood Heights their home.”
Berardi said he hoped “to eliminate the divide and lack of trust within the community.”
“We, as a community, need to work together with a common purpose to keep D80 great and the town of Norridge a great place to live,” Berardi said. “We will establish clear vision and goals that will be used to measure the success of the district and school administration and focus on what’s best for all students. There are many great people in this town that I am hoping will come together and want to get more involved.”
Tribuzio urges constituents to vote for him.
“I grew up in Harwood Heights, attended Ridgewood High School, and later received my Bachelor of Arts degree,” he said. “For the last three years, I have attended every monthly board of education meeting, along with special ones that have come up.”
Tribuzio touted his community involvement, saying that he has volunteered for the parent teacher association, student teacher and parent organization and the Norridge Schools Foundation.
“I am compelled to help preserve the Norridge that previous generations have worked hard to build up,” he said. “By nature, I work hard—from physical tasks and research to learning. Next to crime and safety, the quality of schools in any village will make or break its future. I want to be part of the board of education that keeps that in mind while working with the whole community to improve our district.”
Dec said that as a 24-year resident of Norridge, “I am quite concerned about the current conflicted relation of the community and school district.”
“I want to be a part of enacting fiscal policies to improve the future financial situation of the school district,” Dec said. “I want to provide full communication on what these policies are to the parents and the community, so that we can move toward a cooperative relationship.”
When asked if she feels the District is headed in the right direction, Dec said “there are always opportunities for improvements.”
“I believe there are financial opportunities that aren’t currently being explored,” Dec added.
Moore said he feels compelled to vie for a seat on the school board.
“I have been a resident of Norridge for most of my life, and I have been a student in Norridge schools at the elementary and high school level,” he said. “I see firsthand what amazing things this community can accomplish when it comes together. I feel that if I have the ability to help District 80 and the community at large, then it’s my responsibility to try.”
Moore said he feels he can bring a unique mix of experience and knowledge to the school board.
“I am currently working as a software developer for a large company, working as either the project lead or a major contributor on several important projects,” he said. “Not only does that give me experience in decision-making, I have the advantage of working all day in the technology sector. If the worldwide trend is any indication, the students and teachers of District 80 could greatly benefit from increased exposure to skills related to technology, such as programming.”
Mezzano said that if elected, he wants the board of education to push for greater community involvement.
“I believe that the new school board has to be 100 percent transparent,” he said. “The people of this town need to trust their board and support the decisions that are being made.”
Mezzano said he has an idea as to how the district can address its problems with building and grounds.
“I plan on putting a dream team together of parents in the community with vast vocational experience to combat the building and grounds problems,” he said.
Bellafiore did not respond to requests for interview.