NORMAL — Two newcomers will join three incumbents on the McLean County Unit 5 Board of Education.

James E. Hayek Jr. and Barry Hitchins finished first and fourth among vote-getters for four full terms in Tuesday's election. Incumbents Michael E. Trask and Denise L. Schuster were re-elected.

Hayek and Hitchins succeed Wendy Maulson and Mark Pritchett, who did not run for re-election.

Gail Ann Briggs, who ran unopposed for a two-year term, finished with the most votes at 3,805. Hayek received 2,806; Trask, 2,791; Schuster, 2,749; and Hitchins, 2,595.

Two other newcomers came up short: Glenn Block received 2,386 votes to finish fifth, and John Howard Kuk received 1,216.

Hayek, parent of two Unit 5 students and a manager at State Farm, said the board asked him to run after he served three years on the district's Citizens Advisory Council. 

“I’m a lifelong resident of Bloomington-Normal, and I understand what a great asset Unit 5 is to the community," he said. “I want to maintain the student-first commitment I’ve seen from the board and administration.”

Hayek said he would "like to make sure we get fair funding from the state” and “be a part of funding being used as wisely as possible.”

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Hitchins, who also works for State Farm, said he became interested in serving after he helped get an extra section of third grade at Cedar Ridge Elementary School, which his daughter attends.

“I saw what an impact being part of the education experience could have on kids,” he said.

Hitchins said he hopes "to see if we could do something toward getting those (class size) numbers to more reasonable levels” and keep the district fiscally responsible.

“I want to make sure we do (cost cuts) in the right places and keep the money where it will benefit the most children,” he said. “I’m proud to say my daughter attends Unit 5 and want to see what we can do to make it better.”

Trask, who has served one term on the board, said he pledged to serve at least two. He hopes to address class sizes and budgeting.

Schuster, who was appointed to the board last April after serving on the CAC, said she wants to improve Unit 5 for her two kids who attend.

“I believe a community is only as strong as its schools, and we have very strong schools," she said. “I think everything we see over the next 2 to 4 years will be tied to funding and the uncertainties around that."

Briggs, who has served on the board since 1976, said she looks forward to mentoring the new members.

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Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh


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