Freshman BU student elected to Peoria area school board

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 9.33.11 PMIn 2001, 19-year-old Aaron Schock defied the odds and became the youngest person to ever serve on the Illinois school board. Twelve years later, another Bradley student is repeating history.

William Bessler, a freshman and 19-year-old political science major, was elected a member of the District 310 Board of Education, a local Peoria area school district, earlier this month. William said he was motivated after seeing the need for change and a restructuring of the system.

“Limestone Community High School is in terrible shape at the moment and the school needed new leadership and direction,” Bessler said. “Having the experience of attending the school for four years gave me an inside look at the problems. It will be a tough road ahead because the changes I am calling for are fundamental, and the resistance to change is already high.”

Bessler graduated from Limestone Community High School (LCHS) in Bartonville in May 2012. Upon graduation, Bessler said he knew the problems the school faced were detrimental to the school and the community.

LCHS’s test scores have been dropping steadily for the past few years, and Bessler said families in District 310 have been worried.

In 2012, LCHS’s students were testing below the 50th percentile in math, science and reading on the Illinois Prairie State Achievement Examination, a percentile lower than the Illinois state averages.

After graduation, Bessler said he refused to remain a bystander and began campaigning, calling for a new vision.

“My campaign slogan ‘New Leader, New Ideas’ essentially sums up what I hope to bring to the Board,” he said. “Test scores have been dropping steadily for years, and other markers are equally disastrous.”

Bessler said the primary responsibility of the Board of Education is to create guidelines for the school, including graduation requirements and budgeting.

“First and foremost, I am a representative of the public, and I take that very seriously,” Bessler said. “By being elected, I have already made an impact on the school, and by the time I finish my tenure as a member of the Board of Education, I hope that the school is in better shape.”

Bessler will serve the board for a four-year term working to make decisions on school policy, budget, curriculum and other governing issues. He will be sworn in as member of the District 310 School Board of Education at 7 p.m. on April 23.

“It is a remarkable responsibility,” Bessler said. “I am truly grateful that the people of the Limestone area were willing to trust me enough to make me one of their representatives to the school.”