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Barrington Community Unit District 220 officials are discussing whether to continue offering a remote learning option to students beyond the current school year. According to a recent survey, about a quarter of district students would be interested in continuing virtual classes.

A quarter of Barrington Community Unit School District 220 students are interested in continuing remote learning beyond this school year, according to a recent survey.

Now the district is following up with a questionnaire asking families with students in kindergarten through 12th grade if they would commit to the program for the entire school year.

The survey was intended to “gauge interest” in a virtual program that could be offered during the 2021-22 school year, Superintendent Brian Harris said.

Virtual learning would be a choice-based program, such as the current Chinese Immersion or Dual Language programs, said John Bruesch, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. Administrators are asking for a yearlong commitment from families in order to plan staffing and sectioning for the potential program.

Without knowing the number of participating students and the schools they would otherwise attend in-person, the district can’t determine if additional teachers are needed or if the program could be run by reassigning existing teachers.

“It really depends on where they’re coming from, what building, and we don’t know that until people actually choose to opt in,” Harris said. “Then we can really solidify the numbers.”

School board member Gavin Newman expressed concerns the program could lead to “rampant cheating.” “I’ve heard in a lot of (Advanced Placement) classes at the high school, (for) the kids that are there, it’s just not a level playing field,” he said.

Read more here.

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A wave of incumbents will return to school boards across the suburbs, alongside some newcomers, amid ongoing criticism over how school leaders have handled pandemic learning and the gradual resumption of in-person classes — an issue that sparked some of the most contentious elections in recent memory.

Emotions ran high this election season due to the pandemic affecting communities across the suburbs differently, as local school boards struggled to keep pace with evolving health guidance while facing criticism from parents and teachers alike.

In District 220, where 11 candidates were vying for four board seats, two of the winners — newcomer Erin Chan Ding and incumbent Sandra Ficke-Bradford — were endorsed by the Barrington Education Association. But union-backed candidates Lauren Berkowitz Klauer and Thomas J. Mitoraj lost.

Instead, voters picked Katie Karam and Steve Wang — endorsed by the GOP-backed ACTION PAC, or the Advancing Change Together in Our Neighborhood political action committee. They, along with fellow slate member Malgorzata McGonigal, criticized the school board for staying in remote learning last fall.

“It was more emotionally intense than any election that I remember for Barrington 220,” said Chan Ding, of South Barrington. “When to reopen schools, the approach that we should take, and the national partisan nature of that debate also filtered into our local school board election. There was an anti-teachers union sentiment that we have never seen this intensely before.”

Chan Ding said that by electing two candidates each from opposing camps, voters have signaled their desire to have a wide range of viewpoints and ideologies represented on the board. “We know that our approaches are different and at the same time we know that our goals are similar,” she said.

The divisiveness seen in this election has been long prevalent in the community, said Wang, of Barrington.

“The goal is to make sure that we provide the best possible environment for our children and to make sure that our community heals from all of this divisiveness over the last several years,” he said.

Read more here.

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220 Board 2019

Members of the Barrington School District 220 Board of Education Barry Altshuler, from left, Mike Shackleton, Sandra Ficke-Bradford, President Penny Kazmier, Superintendent Brian Harris, Angela Wilcox, Gavin Newman and Leah Collister-Lazzari are pictured July 30, 2019. Shackleton, Ficke-Bradford, Kazmier and Newman were up for reelection in 2021. Kazmier and Newman did not run. Ficke-Braford unofficially retained her seat in the April 6, 2021 election while Shackleton did not. (Steve Sadin / Pioneer Press)

One incumbent and three others who would be new to the Barrington School District 220 Board of Education are emerging as top vote-getters in Tuesday’s election, according to unofficial results from the Cook, Lake and Kane county clerks’ offices.

The district, with its headquarters in Barrington, serves surrounding towns that are in part or all of each county. Also, a small portion of the district is in McHenry County but unofficial results do not include any totals from McHenry because of what the clerk’s office there called “some anomalies in [Tuesday’s] unofficial election results.”

The top four vote-getters include incumbent Sandra Ficke-Bradford, the current board vice president, with about 12% of the combined Lake and Cook county vote, and newcomers Erin Chan Ding, with about 13%, and Katie Karam and Steve Wang, both with about 12% of the vote, according to unofficial results from each county clerk’s office.

The race had been rancorous, with charges by the League of Women Voters and others of strong partisan involvement in what some expected to be a non-partisan race, and complaints by some parents and candidates over what they saw as unseemly endorsements from the Barrington Education Association teachers union. The union endorsed Ficke-Bradford, Chan Ding, Klauer, and Thomas Mitoraj.

Ficke-Bradford said she wasn’t sure if the BEA endorsement hurt or helped. Chan Ding said she thought the endorsement had little effect overall, but she found it personally affirming that the teachers group saw her as someone with whom they could work.

Read more of the Barrington Courier-Review report on the 220 election here.

Editorial note:  So far, the Daily Herald, Barrington Courier-Review/Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times or the Northwest Herald have not commented on what Alex Strobl shared with this and other publications last weekend.

Additionally, forty-five minutes of Tuesday evening’s Board of Education meeting were devoted to the topic (See “District 220 Board discusses Strobl documents”), so we’re really looking forward to their reports (though we’re not holding our breath).

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Though results are not yet final, the 220 teachers union was only successful in getting two of four candidates (Erin Chan Ding and incumbent Sandra Ficke-Bradford) elected to the District 220 Board of Education.

Voters throughout the Northwest suburbs sent educators a message Tuesday — for the most part endorsing the gradual reopening approach most districts have taken in response to the pandemic.

In school district after school district, candidates who put a priority on listening to the health experts were elected, apparently often with the help of teachers unions.

This was the case in Glenbard High School District 87, Stevenson High School District 125, Palatine-Schaumburg Townships District 211 and Northwest Suburban High School District 214.

But there were exceptions: In Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 and Barrington Unit District 220, voters split their choices between measured reopening candidates and those who were strongly critical of the remote learning environment.

Voter concerns about the impact of the pandemic on local students did not turn out many incumbents.

Out of 34 incumbents in contested races on school board ballots throughout the Northwest suburbs, only three appeared to have been defeated, according to unofficial tallies — Janice Krinsky in Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59, Michael Shackleton in Barrington Unit District 220, and Aurora Austriaco in Maine Township High School District 207.

Unions openly backed candidates in Glenview Elementary District 34, Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59, Glenbard High School District 87, Palatine-Schaumburg Townships High School District 211, Northwest Suburban High School District 214, and Glenbrook High Schools District 225, among others.

Those union candidates were successful virtually everywhere. The lone exception was in District 220 where union-backed candidates Lauren Berkowitz Klauer and Thomas J. Mitoraj lost.

Read more here.

Related:Here’s a SHOCKER! District 220 “TEACHERS UNION endorses 4 candidates of the 11 running for a seat on the Barrington School District 220 board.” Follow the money…

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220 4.6

The District 220 Board of Education spent the last forty-five minutes of their regular meeting last night discussing the information shared by Alex Strobl (See, “So you wanna run for Barrington CUSD 220 Board?” and “220 Gate, part two?”) on this and other websites.

To view the YouTube recording, click here.

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OBH Capture

As previously reported, Brian Cecola has likely won the race for Village President (See “Cecola headed for victory in Barrington Hills president race”).

Here are the unofficial results for Village Board of Trustees:

  • David Riff  445
  • Thomas W. Strauss 428
  • Laura S. Ekstrom 467
  • Robert M Zubak 366
  • Brent Joseph Burval 349
  • Paula Jacobsen 389

County totals are seen below:


Cook County


Kane County

Lake Results

Lake County

McHenry Resilts

McHenry County

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220 r

Upper from left, William Betz, Sandra Ficke-Bradford, Erin Chan Ding, Katie Karam, Lauren Berkowitz Klauer, and lower from left, Jonathan “Juan” Matta, Malgorzata McGonigal, Michael Shackleton, Steve Wang, Robert Windon are candidates for the Barrington Unit District 220 school board in the 2021 election. Not pictured is candidate Thomas J. Mitoraj

Returns from outside the Cook County portion of Barrington Area Unit District 220 show newcomers leading veterans in the race for the school board’s four open seats. Leading vote-getters also included candidates backed by the Action PAC and Barrington Township Republicans, early returns show.

Cook County voters put newcomer Erin Chan Ding in the lead late Tuesday.

Ding is followed by fellow newcomer Katie Karam with 1,966 votes. Running third is newcomer Steve Wang with 1,953 votes. Both Wang and Karam were endorsed by Action PAC and the Barrington Township Republicans.

Current board vice-president Sandra Ficke-Bradford, who is backed by the teachers union is running fourth with 1,817 votes, early returns show.

In fifth place with 1,810 votes is Malgorzata McGonigal, a third candidate endorsed by the PAC and the Republican organization.

All three of the Action PAC candidates criticized the board for maintaining remote learning last fall.

Read more here.

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220 Green

We received file last night that appears to be a continuation of a recent post (seeSo you wanna run for Barrington CUSD 220 Board?”).  The PDF file can be viewed and downloaded here.

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With so many candidates running for various offices, we’d like to remind readers of the candidates The Barrington Hills Observer wholeheartedly endorses:


If you haven’t already, Please Vote tomorrow! 

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Penny Kazmier – President CUSD 220 Board of Education (And winner of the 2011 Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge)

From a friend of The Observer…

“Dear Friends,

As most of you know, I have served on the Barrington 220 School Board for the past 16 years and am not seeking re-election on Tuesday.  My friend, and former board colleague, Brian Battle and I are concerned about the tone of the election and put together the letter below to express our thoughts.  if you have already voted, great, but if you haven’t, please be sure to vote this coming Tuesday, April 6.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter!


# # #


We are both writing to share our thoughts on the current election for 4 seats to our Barrington 220 School Board this Tuesday, April 6.  After each having served 16 years on the Board, we remain committed to the success of 220, and have been closely following the candidates in this year’s election.  We know you still care about 220 also, but may not have had the time to invest in watching all 3 candidate forums.

COVID has certainly created an interesting backdrop for this election.  The constantly changing guidance has stressed School Boards, teachers, parents and students.  Districts across the suburbs have taken different approaches, however there is no single approach that has proven to make all stakeholders satisfied. One result of this universal frustration is the large numbers of candidates for School Boards across suburban Chicago.  Barrington 220 has 11 candidates that will appear on our ballots, confirmation of the vital role of our schools in our community.

Another result of the COVID response, is the increased presence of partisan support for candidates.  Again, this is a statewide trend, and Barrington 220 is no exception with PACs, partisan political organizations, and employee unions supporting different candidates.  We do not support partisan politics injected into School Board elections.  However, it is not in violation of any election laws.  We suggest you simply ignore this issue as unwanted noise, and focus on selecting the best candidates that will serve our community for the next 4 years.

Regarding the issue of COVID and schools, we have been listening for candidates that appear knowledgeable, take into account all stakeholders, and demonstrate a willingness to be flexible while recognizing the diverse needs of our community’s families and students.  However, we want to emphasize that in choosing which candidates to vote for, our experience has taught us that single issue candidates don’t make the most effective Board Members over the entire 4-year term.

We believe that the next Board will need to address significant issues in addition to re-opening.  These issues include working with a new superintendent, planning and executing the facility improvements approved in last year’s referendum, developing a new long-term strategic plan, negotiating both employee union contracts, addressing equity issues, and maintain our existing strong curriculum and strong financial position.  To accomplish these objectives, we need Board members committed to effective community communications.

After watching the 3 recorded forums involving all of the candidates, as well as discussions with many of the candidates, we believe there are 5 strong individuals worthy of your consideration.  Those five are Sandra Ficke-Bradford, Erin Chan Ding, Tom Mitoraj, Lauren Berkowitz Klauer, and Robert Windon.

We strongly recommend a vote for Sandra, Erin and Tom.

Sandra’s experience will be valuable on the Board with all the challenges we described during the next term.  Sandra is completing her third term on the board and has served on numerous Board committees including finance, policy, labor management. Sandra considers the impact of a decision from all sides and listens to other board members when they speak.

Erin demonstrates a depth of knowledge, enthusiasm, and a commitment to engaging our community. During conversations, she has shown the desire to understand “why” something is the way it is, while thinking creatively about how it might be improved.  Erin is a good listener which comes from her background as a journalist. We believe she will bring thought-provoking ideas to the board, while also respecting the opinions of others.

Tom impressed us during the candidate forums.  Tom is thoughtful, creative, and thoroughly assesses a problem before trying to solve it.  He will be a strong school board member who takes his role seriously, and has financial management experience that will benefit the Board in budgeting and negotiations.  He has also demonstrated his commitment to serving his community through his many years of service to the U.S. Navy.  Tom is forthright and honest, and will do the hard work needed to become an active and involved board member.

For your fourth vote, we suggest you look closely at both Lauren and Robert.  Lauren appears to be genuinely interested in serving our community, and Robert has great community service experience as a trustee for the Village of Barrington.

If you are interested in learning more about these five candidates, here are links to their campaign websites:

Highly Recommended

Sandra Ficke-Bradford:           www.sandrafor220.com
Erin Chan Ding:                       www.erinfor220.com
Tom Mitoraj:                           www.tomfor220.com


Lauren Berkowitz Klauer:       www.facebook.com/lbkfor220
Robert Windon:                      https://www.windon220.com

We hope this helps you in deciding how to cast your votes. Please feel free to forward this email to your friends in our community and as always, contact us if you have any questions.

Please vote next Tuesday, April 6!

Penny Kazmier & Brian Battle”

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