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Conway Resigns From District 200 School Board

New job, financial issues led to decision; two-termer suggests his replacement.

board member Jacques Conway stepped down Thursday night and asked his colleagues to consider naming former board member John Allen as his replacement.

In a surprise announcement, Conway, who has served on the board of education since 2005, said he decided to resign because his position as the executive director of Teamwork Englewood would keep him from remaining engaged in his board responsibilities.

Conway became executive director of the organization, which aims to improve the lives of residents in one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, in July 2010.

In addition, Conway said financial issues are forcing him to sell his River Forest home and leave the area. He said his wife has already found a job in Indiana and one of his sons is finishing up his junior year of high school.

He said he has not yet found a new place to live.

Conway said his fellow school board members urged him last year to remain but he told them “I agreed (to remain) with the understanding that after this past election and before the conclusion of this school year I would resign and allow the board to fill my position with someone able to be fully engaged and willing to serve.”

He suggested Allen because he “is informed and willing to continue to serve on this board,” Conway said. “And after his vote total was evident that the public valued his gifts and would approve of his appointment."

Allen was first elected to the school board in 2007 and in was defeated for re-election, coming in fourth out of a six-person field. Efforts to reach Allen by telephone and e-mail for comment were unsuccessful.

A native of the Woodlawn neighborhood, Conway was elected to two four-year terms, the first in 2005 and the second in 2009. He has less than two years remaining on that second term, which expires in 2013.

Conway first became known in the Oak Park area as a police officer. He served on the force for 22 years as a senior sergeant, detective, school resource officer and community police supervisor.

He was the first African-American to retire from the department, according to the website at Neighborhood United Methodist Church where he has served as pastor since 2003.

A graduate of De La Salle Institute and Loyola University, Conway received his master’s of divinity degree from the Chicago Theological Seminary in 1995.

Conway also was with Park National Bank and was let go after took over the institution in 2010. That firing prompted his taking the position in Englewood, Conway said.

No direction has been set yet by the school board on how Conway’s vacancy will be filled, officials said.

According to state law, a vacancy must be filled within 45 days from the date of a resignation. Whoever completes the remainder of Conway’s unexpired term could stand for election in 2013.

A candidate for an Illinois school board must be at least 18 years old, must have lived in the school district for at least one year, and be a registered voter, according to state law.

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