Belleville District 201’s newest school board member says he wants to put his finance background to use to help a district that has affected his daughter’s life.
District 201 board members voted on Wednesday night to appoint Brian Barton to fill the seat vacated by Allison Bartle. Superintendent Jeff Dosier announced during the June 19 meeting that Bartle was resigning because her job transferred her out of state.
Barton, 55, lives in Swansea with his wife Terrie and two children: Madeline, 17, and Brock, 14. The Bartons also have two adult children — Brett, 28, and Molly, 25 — and two grandchildren.
It’s his first time serving in elected office, but Brian Barton said he brings a different kind of experience to the district. He is a certified public accountant and worked for 33 years in finance for the Department of Agriculture.
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“I have to get into the district and get into the particulars, but ... maybe I can use some of that information to help the district with some of the cuts that they may have to make as a result of state legislation issues,” he said.
Illinois hasn’t passed a full budget since 2015. As a result, schools have seen delays in mandated payments from the state over the past few years. Lawmakers were expected to vote Thursday on whether to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a proposal to end Illinois’ budget impasse.
“I thought it was just time to go ahead and do it,” Brian Barton said of getting involved in the school district.
Maybe I can use some of that information to help the district with some of the cuts that they may have to make as a result of state legislation issues.
Brian Barton, Belleville District 201 School Board member
When he heard about the vacant seat, he said he thought about his daughter Madeline.
She will be a senior at Belleville East High School. Brian Barton says he’s watched Madeline, who has Down Syndrome, become more independent because of the school’s life skills program. He said it taught her about laundry, cleaning, personal hygiene and more.
“She had gone from a very shy, nonsocial person into a person that gets out in the first row of the choir and belts it out, and to watch her become more independent and blossom and become more social really warms my heart,” he said. “And I know the teachers in the district had put a lot of time and effort into developing the kids, especially my daughter.”
Brain Barton said the district has given him opportunities, too. He is a 1980 graduate of Belleville West High School. While he was a student, Brain Barton played basketball, baseball and football, and he got involved in student council.
“Not having a whole lot of money with my family, I had plenty of outlets,” he said. “... There was always extracurricular activities that you could do and still maintain your focus on your grades.”
His son Brock will join Madeline at Belleville East as a freshman in the fall.
Brian Barton will serve on the school board until April 2019.
In other business during Wednesday’s special meeting, the school board voted to hire Casey Garrett as assistant principal at Belleville East. Garrett previously worked as a special education teacher at East.
Board member Carol Eckert wasn’t in attendance. Barton abstained from the vote.
The District 201 School Board meets next at 7 p.m. July 17 at 920 N. Illinois St. in Belleville.