Taft Foundation head wants strong LSC election turnout
by BRIAN NADIG
A 1970 graduate of Taft High School has begun an awareness campaign about the need to vote in local school council elections.
In 2014 about 500 parents and community members voted in the LSC election at Taft, which has an enrollment of about 3,200. "I don’t really give a damn who wins, but I’d like to see 2,000 voters," Richard Winge said. Winge is the founder of the Taft High School Foundation.
Winge said that many people who vote are friends of candidates in the election and that they often support a group of candidates who are running together as a slate instead of considering the merits of each candidate. "I’m just here to promote democracy the best I can," he said. "From an educational standpoint, I can’t imagine a more critical issue than this."
Parents of Taft students and residents who live win Taft’s attendance area are eligible to vote, while students, teachers and other school staff members elect their own representatives. The duties of a council include choosing a principal, approving discretionary fund expenditures and giving advice on school policies.
Winge said that with the budget crisis facing the Chicago Public Schools and the possibility of a teacher strike, increased parent and community involvement at Taft will be an important factor in the school’s success.
Winge recently created a nonpartisan, nonprofit group called the Taft Public Awareness Campaign, and its Web site, promotes a forum for Taft LSC candidates that will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, at the school, 6530 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. The Web site can be reached at www.tpac.info.
The candidates will be asked to submit a short biography of themselves for the Web site, and information about how to vote in the election will be included, Winge said. The election is scheduled for Thursday, April 14.
Winge said that the awareness campaign is not affiliated with any candidate and is not associated with the foundation, which has raised about $80,000 in the past 3 years. Some of those funds have gone toward refinishing gymnasium floors and purchasing pianos for the school.
Winge has attended several LSC meetings as the foundation president, and he said that the idea for the awareness campaign stems in part from those meetings. He said that these meetings serve as a forum for residents to discuss their concerns about the school and that more people should be involved in electing the council’s members.