Candidate forum planned for Brunson local school council candidates

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Fourteen candidates are seeking a seat on the local school council for Milton Brunson Elementary School, a math and science specialty neighborhood school located at 932 N. Central Ave.

The grade pre K-8 school will host a candidate forum Monday at 2:30 p.m. to help voters prepare for Wednesday’s election.

There are 11 spots available on Brunson’s local school council, a board that oversees the school’s budget, improvement plan, and hiring and firing of principals. The board has seats for six parents, two community members, two teachers and one non-teaching school employee.

In the most competitive segment of the race, five community members are competing for two seats. The candidates are Charlotte Christian, Misty Drake, Brandon Johnson, James Ruffin; current council member Laurella Scaggs is running for re-election.

Drake, a health care administrator who grew up on the West Side, said she wants to get more involved in her neighborhood school after watching her 5-year-old daughter thrive at a North Side magnet school.

“I see the amount of parental support and the resources at that (magnet) school and the success they’ve had in increasing their test scores. I really feel those are things that could be brought to Brunson,” Drake said in an interview. “At the end of the day, everyone should have a right to go to a school in their neighborhood that meets all their needs.”

Drake said her top priorities at Brunson would be supporting teachers, increasing parent involvement and fundraising efforts, and creating a safe environment inside and outside the school, with a goal of getting the school off academic probation.

Johnson, a Chicago Teachers Union organizer, wrote in an optional candidate statement he would “work to bring resources and support to Brunson in order to expose students and parents to opportunities within and outside of the community.”

Ruffin, a longtime community volunteer who has previously served on local school councils, wrote in his statement he is running “because I know I can make a difference in the school … I am very concerned about our school and the (education) of our children.”

Six parents will appear on the ballot, guaranteeing each a council seat: Nivea Coulter, Michelle Hood and Cassandra Johnson are running for re-election, and Jerome Cox, Alisha Lindsey and Akeeysha Rodgers-Williams are seeking new seats.

Coulter wrote in her statement she wants to help students with reading, writing, study skills and address bullying. “Respect yourself and others will respect you,” she wrote.

Cox has been active with children in the community, teaching them kung fu, taking them to the park, and generally being a “father figure for children who do not have … a father that is active in their lives,” he wrote in his candidate statement. He has volunteered at Brunson for the past three years, he said.

Hood wrote, “I have seen the progression of the school and I am a parent that is willing to support the mission and vision of the school.”

Rodgers-Williams, a parent of four Brunson students, wrote in her statement she was inspired to run because of a love for all children. “I am a parent who isn’t just concerned with my children’s education but all the children,” she wrote. “They are our future.”

Running for the council’s two teacher seats are Dee Dra Perry and Cozette Wendemu. Irma Archibald, a support staff employee in Brunson’s main office, is seeking the non-teacher employee seat.

The citywide local school council elections will he held at elementary schools from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 18. Parents and community members may vote for as many as five parent/community candidates.

Voters must bring two forms of ID, at least one of which must have a current address within the school’s attendance boundaries. Acceptable forms of ID include a driver’s license, library card or utility bill. (For more details, view pages 23 and 24 of the Local School Council Election Guide.)

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