ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford voters will head to the polls in less than three weeks to pick new school board members. And Tuesday night school board hopefuls voiced their opinions at a candidate forum.
Rockford School Board candidates are making their voices heard. Seven candidates who are in contested races took to the stage at the Sullivan Center to answer questions; it's part of a candidate forum co-sponsored by local group Next Rockford.
Some of the more controversial topics discussed were a contract for the Rockford Education Association, transparency regarding costs for projects, communication and discipline, specifically expulsions.
Sub District F candidate Juan Reyes says there's a lack of transparency. Michael Harner who is running in Sub District E says there should be a specific sub committee to address transparency. But not everyone was satisfied by those responses.
"I was hoping I would hear someone use the word trust because I think that's important when you're handling people's money, that you need a community to trust you," said Rockford resident Bryan Heidemann.
Discipline was another issue discussed. The district has a zero tolerance policy and refers students for expulsion for certain offenses like drugs and weapons. Most candidates supported the idea, but said each case should be addressed individually.
"I really truly believe in second chances, I believe in rehabilitating the kids and looking into the issues of why they did what they did," said Rockford parent Amanda Rodriguez.
Sole incumbent on the stage, Laura Powers says communication is key. She says the district should pass out fliers at community hot spots where parents hang out, to better inform residents of what's happening in the schools.
"They need to talk more and let the parents know exactly what is going on," said Rockford resident Kayla Helser.
Only those in contested races debated last night, two of them, incumbent Lisa Jackson and Kim Mullins were unable to attend. There are twelve total candidates running for school board:
Sub District A: Lisa Jackson
Sub District B: Tim Rollins
Sub District C: Kenneth Scrivano
Write-in (Alice Saudargas has been campaigning)
Sub District D: Jude Makulec
Sub District E: Michael Harner
Sub District F: Jeffery Holt, Jr.
Sub District G: Jaime Escobedo