Tim Albores wants to serve. That’s why he’s making another run for a seat on the Lyons Township High School District 204 school board after finishing sixth in a six-person field in 2021.
“I think LT is a good school, a very good school. I think it can be better and I think my biggest reason for why I’m doing this again is because I feel the need to give back to my community that has done so much for me and my family,” said Albores in a telephone interview with the Landmark.
Albores, who lives in LaGrange Park, is a director of student services for Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202, the fifth-largest school district in the state. A former social worker, Albores oversees special education at the district’s four high schools and supervises all the district’s social workers.
He believes his background in education would add a perspective not present on the LTHS school board.
“I feel that my experience in education both as a social worker and as an administrator in a very large district lends me knowledge and expertise in how a school system functions, and the work I do in social-emotional learning can be an asset to our district,” Albores said.
Albores, 48, is the father of three girls. His eldest daughter graduated from LTHS in 2021, his middle daughter is a senior and his youngest is a freshman.
He is an active member of the LTHS Community Advisory Council (LTCAC) and serves on the LaGrange Park Police Commission. He was active in the now inactive LaGrange School District 102 Delegate Assembly and was the Delegate Assembly’s vice president in during the 2016-17 school year.
In 2016, Albores was the co-president of Citizens Supporting District 102, a group that formed to advocate an ultimately successful property tax increase referendum.
“My big push is service,” Albores said, noting his father was a Spanish teacher at Oak Park and River Forest High School, his mother was a social worker and that his family took in foster children when he was growing up.
Albores said that while social-emotional learning is his passion, he thinks LTHS has work to do to improve its curriculum and better align it with the SAT exam to give students the best chance for success after high school no matter what path they take. Albores noted that SAT scores at LTHS have declined recently.
“I do think there should be a focus that our curriculum aligns with those high-stakes tests, so that kids have the most opportunity for scholarships for colleges or in the trades,” Albores said.
Albores takes a nuanced position on the controversial issue of whether LTHS should sell the approximately 70-acre tract of undeveloped land it owns in Willow Springs. He said that while he considers himself an environmentalist and likes to see open land preserved, he understands the school’s desire to sell the property.
“That decision should not be made based on my wants and needs; it has to be made what’s in the best interests of the school district,” Albores said. “I think they need to proceed with consideration of selling it, but I also think there needs to more conversation on the front end involving the community and the community partners to try and find a way to compromise to get the most bang for the buck for LT’s infrastructure that is greatly needed while still trying to be a good neighbor.”
Albores said it appears that the school could have done a better job of communicating with the Willow Springs community about the potential sale. He said perhaps only part of the land could be sold to create a buffer between and development and the neighborhood of single-family homes just to the west.
While he understood the motivation that led to changes in the LTHS grading system a couple years ago, Albores supports changes implemented this year to make homework count towards a student’s final grade and to somewhat limit retakes of tests.
“They’ve done a much better job fixing it,” said Albores, of the revised grading system.
Albores is a supporter of recent efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion at LTHS.
“I support it 100 percent,” Albores said. “The work that the board is doing, that director of equity is putting us in the right direction.”
Albores’ ancestry is third-generation Mexican. If elected, he would be the only Hispanic member of the school board. Does he think that is significant?
“If I would answer myself strictly for myself, I would say it doesn’t matter,” Albores said. “I would say that you need to have the best people on the board, and I think the best people on the board is a diverse background, with diverse skillsets, diverse careers, talents that can help lead our district forward, but it may be impactful for other people, and I don’t want to disqualify that.”
Albores said, based on what he knows now, he supports the decision of the school administration not to grant a student chapter of Turning Point USA official school club status, an issue that has caused some controversy at LTHS, with students affiliated with the group claiming that they have been discriminated against based on their conservative political views.
“If it is political group, which is my understanding that it was, and we don’t allow political groups to be part of student clubs and activities on either side and that rule was applied evenly, then, yes, I agree with the decision that was made,” Albores said.
Albores, who said that he is a Democrat, says that it is important the school not take political sides and treats all students fairly.
“I firmly, firmly believe that schools and districts and the board and administration and teachers have got to keep politics out of our schools,” Albores said. “I think it’s the one thing that is dividing us the most and I’m saying that to both sides.
“Our teachers should not be influencing kids politically. I think there is room for discussion about what politics are and there’s always room for those kinds of discussions, but … there needs to be separation of church and state, there needs to be a separation between politics and education.”