The controversies surrounding District 15 relating to the failed $130 million referendum, unprecedented 10-year teacher contract, and late start / early release debate have inspired and motivated Frank Annerino, Mike Smolka, Anthony Wang, Lisa Szczupaj and Barb Kain to come together to run for our D15 School Board.

These individuals come from a variety of backgrounds with a range of experiences, bringing their unique skill-sets and perspectives to form a consensus team to represent our diverse community. Together, they will chart a new course for our school district.

They believe it is imperative to restore the public’s trust in D15 through transparency and accountability. Together, they will engage and collaborate with the community on important decisions that affect our children, families and taxpayers. And they will ensure our tax dollars are being used as effectively as possible, to provide the highest quality education for our children and for the betterment of our community.

The children, parents and residents of District 15 deserve a school board that engages its community, and takes the time to inform and educate all stakeholders when important decisions are being considered. This is what solid representation is, and what Frank Annerino, Barb Kain, Mike Smolka, Lisa Szczupaj and Anthony Wang will provide for you – the residents of District 15 – if you elect them to the Board of Education.

Frank Annerino is an experienced business owner, manager and consensus builder who has lived in the school district for 23 years. In addition to his four children with his wife, Trina, he has six nieces and nephews, all of which have attended D15 schools.

Frank’s three younger children attend different D15 schools; one is in the gifted program at Marion Jordan Elementary School, the second attends Paddock Elementary School (the normal boundary school), and the third attends Sundling Jr. High School. Frank is a member of all three school PTA organizations and belongs to the Palatine High School Booster Club, where his oldest child attends high school.

Frank has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois. Most recently, he was the Director of Engineering at a company that designs and manufactures mobile devices. There he managed teams and was required to work with many different personalities to complete a wide variety of projects and tasks. Prior to that experience, he founded his own design firm, which he ultimately sold after eight years of building it. Through these professional experiences, Frank developed management, leadership and consensus-building skills, all of which he plans to utilize as a new member of the D15 Board of Education. He considers himself to be an inherent problem solver who works diligently to gather relevant data and consider mitigating factors when weighing important decisions.

Frank’s additional community involvement includes six years as a religious education teacher at St. Theresa Catholic Church, where he also serves on the church’s Religious Education Board, and is a member of the St. Theresa Knights of Columbus. He is also a member of the Palatine Gymnastics Club Parent Organization, and a Platinum Booster for the Sundling Jr High School Orchestra.

Why run for school board? Frank’s interest in being a board member is rooted in his family’s attendance in D15 schools. His goal is to ensure that all D15 students receive a quality education that prepares them for post-secondary educational opportunities and other future endeavors. Frank believes that the Board of Education needs to create and execute a strategic plan that takes the best interests of the entire community into consideration. Additionally, he wants the Board of Education to provide more thoughtful oversight, and to be stronger stewards of the taxpayers’ money.


Mike Smolka has been a D15 resident for a total of 22 years, is a family law attorney, and a single father to an 8-year-old boy who attends Lincoln Elementary School. He is a commissioner and coach for Palatine Youth Baseball (PYB), as well as a coach for Celtic Soccer and Palatine Park District youth basketball.

After graduating from Fremd High School, Mike attended Chicago State University where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. He went on to receive his Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Integrated Marketing Communications at Roosevelt University. Mike worked for several years as a Director of Marketing before earning his Law Degree from John Marshall Law School. He currently owns a private law practice based in Palatine that focuses on Family Law/Domestic Relations.

In addition to coaching Celtic Soccer and Palatine Park District basketball for his son’s teams, Mike has also been a commissioner for PYB since 2014. In his role as a commissioner, he makes a point of attending as many league games as possible to ensure he is accessible to both players and their parents to receive feedback and suggestions to continually improve the association.

As a result of Mike’s journey in obtaining primary custody of his son, he co-founded a nonprofit called Fathers Helping Fathers. This national non-profit organization provides education, guidance and resources for men who are invested in being the best parents they can be for their children.

Mike’s decision to run for the D15 Board of Education came after he observed repeated decisions by the school board that were made without careful vetting and input from all stakeholders. His goal is to be a highly accessible member of the Board of Education so that he can increase open and meaningful dialogue between board members and the greater community.

Why run for school board? Mike strongly believes that the Board of Education has not put the best interests of the community at the forefront of their decisions. The most recent examples of this include the debate over the shortened school day for “Teacher Enrichment Time” (late start/early release), the 10-year teacher contract, and the attempted $130 million referendum. He believes increased visibility of school board members is an important step forward to invite an honest, open and frank dialogue with the community to improve educational outcomes.


Anthony Wang is an education professional who earned his Master’s Degree in Education and has worked in higher education for the past several years. He is married to his wife, Lauren, is the father of four children, and lives in the Winston Park neighborhood.

Anthony’s belief in the importance of education is reflected in his longtime volunteer involvement with Junior Achievement, a nonprofit organization that encourages students from kindergarten through 12th grade to be inspired through learning to reach their full potential. He recently joined another nonprofit, the Palatine Jaycees, due to his personal goal to increase his involvement in the Palatine community through leadership development and community service. As a father and D15 resident in his early 30’s, Anthony will bring a youthful and underrepresented perspective to the make-up of the Board of Education.

After following the recent D15 $130 million building bond referendum and its ultimate failure, Anthony felt a calling to serve the residents of D15 due to his strong background in education, and belief that there is an urgent need for new leadership on the Board of Education. His goal is to help to guide D15 administration to remain mindful of how tax dollars are spent, while ensuring that the level of education provided to students in D15 continues to improve.

Anthony has worked in higher education since 2009, and is currently employed as a Manager of Admissions at Pearson Education. In this role, he coaches, mentors and evaluates a team of advisors, and consults on yearly budgeting and performance report analysis. Prior to working at Pearson, he was an Admissions Advisor at the Apollo Education Group.

In addition to his master’s degree, Anthony also has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Finance. He is an active volunteer member of the Palatine Township Republican Organization, where he serves as the Communications Co-Chair. He grew up in Wisconsin and has lived in Illinois for the past 10 years. His children are ages 9, 5, 4, and his youngest recently turned 1.

Why run for school board? Anthony’s interest in becoming a D15 Board of Education member comes from a desire to serve the greater D15 community, ensuring that all stakeholders are represented when it comes to the use of their tax dollars. His goal is to leverage his professional background so that educational outcomes for all children can be improved through decisions made by the Board of Education.  

Email: lisabethszczupaj@gmail.com

Lisa Szczupaj (shoo-PIE) is a business professional and concerned D15 parent who was deeply involved in the D15 late start/early release debate in 2013. She is the mother of two children and is an active volunteer in the D15 community.

Lisa and her husband Jim are parents to two boys; their youngest attends Paddock Elementary School and their oldest attends Fremd High School. She has served on the PTA Board for the past 9 years at Paddock, holding a PTA executive level office for two of those years. Additionally, she continues to serve as a member of the D15 Parent’s Committee for Educational Excellence and volunteers frequently for programs at Paddock, Plum Grove Jr. High School and Fremd. Lisa is active with Palatine Boy Scout Troop 209 and has been a Team Mom for the Palatine Amateur Football Association (PAFA) and the Palatine Penguins Lacrosse Program. Lisa's husband Jim is also involved in the community, as he is a coach for Palatine Youth Baseball, Palatine Park District Basketball and Palatine Amateur Football Association.

The Late Start/Early Release debate began in 2013 when D15 administration and the Teachers Union contracted “Teacher Enrichment Time" to occur on Wednesday mornings, causing a weekly late start day for children. Lisa recognized the challenges for children and parents with the late start model. She gathered more than 1,000 signatures and appealed to the Board of Education to survey parents to determine their position on the issue. D15 administration ultimately appeased her request, and a survey showed parents overwhelmingly wanted early release on Fridays instead of late start on Wednesdays. This schedule, due to Lisa’s involvement, is in place today in D15. Lisa was also involved in arbitration with D15 and the Teacher’s Union relating to this issue, representing the interests of parents and children. She vows to continue representing all D15 residents as a school board member, including those with older children or no children who reside in the school district.

Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a major in Spanish and a minor in Business Administration. She also earned a Master of Business Administration from DePaul University with dual concentrations in Change Management and International Business. She is the Director of Business Development for Sika Corporation and has been employed by the company for a total of 23 years.

Why run for school board? Lisa is proud of the solid education provided by D15 but believes there is room for improvement to ensure it is a top-performing school district. Her considerations include curriculum, facilities, and extra-curricular programming, which draws residents to D15. She is firm in her stance that leadership must work together while living within financial means with finite resources. Additionally, she believes the Board of Education must restore trust as representatives of the taxpayers, and D15 Administration as representatives for the children of the community.


Barb Kain is a concerned District 15 parent and a founding member of the group 4RD15Kids, who played a key role in the recent defeat of the $130 million referendum. She works in the education field, and is the mother of children who attend Gray M. Sanborn Elementary School.

Barb has been married to her husband, Pat, a 37-year Palatine resident, since 2006. Together they are parents to two boys, a 3rd and 2nd grader, in addition to Molly, the family dog. The family has been involved in Palatine Youth Baseball (PYB) and Celtic Soccer where Pat has been a coach to their sons’ teams for the last three years, and Barb has been the Team Mom. Other community involvement includes her volunteering for the D15 Community Closet, The Bridge Youth and Family Services Walk/Run 2016, and the League of Women Voters, as well as being a member of the Sanborn PTA and serving as a room mother.

As co-founder of 4RD15Kids, Barb acted as the spokesperson for the group and worked tirelessly to engage, inform and educate D15 stakeholders about the inherently flawed building bond referendum. The ballot question was defeated by a near 3-1 margin. The group’s position was that, although many of the proposed ideas had merit, the plan was too rushed, lacked sufficient community engagement, and was not vetted thoroughly enough to justify the goals or the price tag connected to it.

Barb’s recent experiences working to educate the community about the referendum inspired her to become more active and involved with D15 by running for the Board of Education. Her overarching goal is to provide stronger and more comprehensive representation for the children, families and D15 community at-large. Additionally, she wants to ensure all students receive a top-notch education, while holding D15 administration to the highest standards of fiscal responsibility and accountability.

Barb holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is employed by Township High School District 214, where she works in the District Office. She previously worked in the Student Services Department at Glenbrook North High School, and is a member of the National Education Association.

Why run for school board? Barb’s goals are to help restore the community’s trust in the school board by focusing on greater transparency and community involvement in decision making. The rich history of the community and its school buildings are important to Barb, and she is committed to ensuring proper work is being completed to keep community buildings safe and updated, while also ensuring that space is being utilized to maximize learning and student opportunities.

Goals For D15

Frank Annerino, Mike Smolka, Anthony Wang, Lisa Szczupaj and Barb Kain are united in a singular goal to greatly improve School Board leadership in District 15. This goal will be achieved by providing stronger and more inclusive representation of children, families and all individuals who reside within the school district boundaries.

Each of these candidates vows to work together as a team, as incoming members of the Board of Education to achieve the following:

Use Your Tax Dollars Effectively to Provide the Highest Quality Education for Our Children.
Our goal is to provide the necessary leadership for District 15 to work within its financial means, by consistently practicing fiscal accountability and responsibility.

Both the 10-year teacher contract and the failed $130 million building bond referendum demonstrate the need for new leadership to utilize creative solutions to maximize current financial resources prior to entertaining any potential increases to the tax burden for D15 residents. Our team will work tirelessly to help re-build D15’s reputation as a premier school district in the northwest suburbs of Chicago by making thoughtful choices that improve educational outcomes for all students.

As Board of Education members, we will require administration to provide detailed studies and collateral information to justify any major proposals before changes are made. Once studies are completed, we will insist upon long-term and comprehensive outreach efforts to the entire D15 community, to explain initiative goals and obtain direct feedback and suggestions, before ever moving forward with a concrete plan. An additional goal will be to encourage public and private partnerships to not only spread out, but to potentially decrease the financial burden that is currently and squarely placed on the shoulders of all D15 taxpayers.
Engage and Collaborate with the Community on Decisions That Affect Children, Families and Taxpayers.
Our goal is to make D15 an accountable taxing body that requires itself to be fully transparent to the public it serves. This would help restore a productive and mutually beneficial relationship between those who are hired and elected in D15, and the children, families and residents of D15.

The public’s trust in District 15 has been diminished greatly due to the lack of sincere and thoughtful engagement between the administration / Board of Education, and the community at-large. In the past year alone, the 10-year teacher contract and failed $130 million referendum have contributed to this lack of trust. With the 10-year teacher contract, no taxpayer or media member was privy to the details of the contract until after it was approved (despite repeated requests over several weeks), and school board members opted not to participation in the negotiation of the contract. With the $130M referendum, the D15 community was not engaged prior to the unanimous approval of this exorbitantly priced referendum, which lacked detailed studies to justify it. After the school board unanimously approved the referendum and plan, what they referred to as “community engagement” was a one-way attempt to get the public to vote for the plan, not a true attempt to involve the community. Due to an inadequate community engagement effort that featured constantly-changing answers, the referendum failed by a massive margin. These examples demonstrate how trust in D15 must be rebuilt.

Our team vows to be transparent, ensuring that the taxpayers of the community understand the priorities of the School Board and Administration and all issues under consideration. We will ensure that all reports, studies, meeting minutes, contracts and other information will be made available to the public and the news media as quickly as is possible under our leadership.
Dedicate Ourselves to Restoring the Public's Trust Through Transparency and Accountability.
Our team believes it is important that the District 15 Board of Education and administration collaborate with the community its decisions effect. We believe the opinions of the taxpayers of District 15 are invaluable in considering multiple perspectives on key issues that impact our schools and our students.

It is an extremely unfortunate circumstance that in the last year alone, both the failed $130 million referendum and the unprecedented 10-year teacher contract have demonstrated to the taxpayers of District 15 that their thoughts, suggestions and overall weigh-in are not valued. We vow as candidates for the D15 Board of Education that this will change under our leadership. Unlike what is happening under the current D15 administration, we will take all necessary efforts to engage with the community.

Our team will not stop until all communication avenues are exhausted to reasonably ensure each resident of the school district is aware of, and given the opportunity to be included in, conversations that affect children, parents and the community at-large. Communication channels will include (but are not limited to) media outreach, social media, website updates, e-communications, surveys, public and town hall meetings, open houses and any other opportunity where stakeholders can weigh-in and influence decisions made by the school district. The Board of Education is elected to represent children, families and taxpayers, and we will not allow the electorate to be failed, as it has been under current school board leadership.
If you agree that new leadership is needed in our school district and want to help by volunteering for this campaign, please email us at info@engageD15.com.
If you would like to make a donation to this campaign online you can use the form to the right, or if you would rather send a check we accept those as well. Please make checks payable to MRCD15.
Checks can be mailed to:
Members for a Responsible and Collaborative D15 (MRCD15)
P.O. Box 2224
Palatine, Illinois 60078

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Election Day: Tuesday, April 4th
Early Voting: March 20th - April 1st
Vote by Mail Begins: March 10th

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