The Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Landmark’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.
Name: Tim Albores
Previous Political Experience: None
Previous/Current Community Involvement: Mentor, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, 2023; LaGrange Park Police Commission, 2020-present; Lyons Township Community Advisory Council, 2017-present; volunteer, BEDS, 2016 – present; volunteer, Appalachian Service Project; Henderson Settlement Service Project, 2018; Indian Princess Tribal member/chief, 2008-2018; coach/referee, AYSO Soccer, 2008-2018; delegate assembly member, 2008/2009, 2014/2015, 2016/2-17, vice-president; co-president, Citizens Supporting District 102, 2016; board president, Jamal Place Group Home, 2004-2007
Occupation: Director of Student Services
Education: B.A. with double major in English Literature and Teacher Education; Master of School Social Work: School Social Work Endorsement; Master of Education: School Improvement Leadership
1. Why are you running for the board of Lyons Township High School (LTHS)? What motivates you and what experience and perspectives would you bring to the job? How would these be valuable as an elected official?
I feel as though I have an obligation to run for the school board because I believe in giving back to my community. From a very young age, I was taught that education is the key to many of the greatest things in life and that giving back is important and expected. While I typically like to serve my community quietly, I believe my experiences and talents make me an excellent candidate for the Lyons Township School Board, and it is time for me to serve more publicly. I am running for the school board to support our students, school, and community which I hold in the highest regard. I believe my 26 years as a social worker and administrator in many different educational environments will be an asset to our community. My dedication to my family and commitment to the service of others will always come first in my life. While I don’t like campaigning or discussing my accomplishments, I do feel it’s important for people to understand my motivation for running. I currently work for a district of 25,000+ students and it brings challenges and difficult conversations. My job is to empathize, work to build consensus, and sometimes deliver difficult decisions. While this can be challenging, I work to really listen and always try to do what is in the best interest of the students, school, parents, and community. I believe this will lend itself to being a strong and compassionate liaison to the community while working together with my board colleagues and administration to deliver an education that truly prepares our students for the future.
2. For the 2021-22 school year, LTHS hired a director of equity and belonging and launched initiatives to address equity. What, in your view, is the value of pursuing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives? Has LTHS started to achieve equitable outcomes for students? How can it do better?
These initiatives are embedded in our Illinois State Standards. More importantly, they are important for teaching our students to be good humans. Many feel that by requiring this we are taking away from someone else. If you are a sports fan, sociologist, or naturalist, you know that organisms/organizations work better when they are together. These initiatives are not meant to make people feel bad for who they are. They are designed to make us all feel better by working together. These are the lessons our students need to be productive in their future work lives, family lives, and community lives.
I believe this administrator’s role is to ensure that the district’s strategic plan is being implemented with integrity. Specifically, goals two and three are where I would expect this position to play an invaluable role. I would expect that the Director of Equity and Belonging would be ensuring the professional development of the staff providing a vision for how to engage all stakeholders in creating a positive school climate while working with both students and staff to support all students’ sense of belonging to the LTHS school community. This role must ensure our school community feels listened to, safe, and free from hateful speech and actions. My role on the board would be to ask questions and ensure the voice of the students, staff, administration, and greater school community is heard, creating opportunities to have hard conversations while ensuring all voices are heard through respectful dialogue. Through these questions, I would be looking for data and actionable plans to reinforce the vision of this role in collaboration with the strategic plan. I believe there has been a good start in this role from a professional development point of view, however, I see this role beginning to have a more actionable impact directly on our student body as the position continues to evolve. This role is critical to creating a safe, supportive, and inclusive learning community.
3. During the past year or so, there has been much discussion about modifications to LTHS’ grading system. What are your views on the change/tweaks? Do you believe that there is anything else that needs to be done and, if so, what?
I was very pleased that the changes that were made. While this philosophy of “not yet”, meaning we don’t move on to the next lesson until everyone understands the material, is good in philosophy, it did not work. Homework has value. It is through the required practice that learning occurs. Once value was placed back on homework, I’ve seen firsthand how learning became stronger. The newest debate is on retaking assessments. While I do think students should have an opportunity to retake an exam, there must be requirements put in place to take them. You must have skin in the game. This means before you are allowed to retake an assessment, all of your homework must be turned in and you should either complete another study guide so teachers know you are prepared or meet with your teacher to ensure you are vested in the process. While some may say there aren’t redos in life, we have all been given second chances when we make mistakes. But we need to earn them. Failing and moving on isn’t helping our test scores, or, most importantly, our students.
4. There has been some discussion in the District 204 community about whether or not LTHS is maintaining high academic standards and preparing students adequately for college and careers. Can you provide examples in which the school may be lacking or in which it excels in delivering a high-quality high school education?
These discussions have been about a singular assessment: the SAT or DLM. We know that there is a faction of students who do not perform well on tests. We also know that, for the past two years, colleges weren’t requiring an SAT score for admittance (and still today), and the value for students to take the test was very low. While many colleges and universities have let the SAT go by the wayside, this doesn’t mean that these assessments aren’t valuable. This assessment provides the district with valuable information about how prepared our students are for postsecondary learning. They also provide a data point for colleges and universities to allocate scholarship opportunities. While there are downfalls to these high-stakes assessments, including the struggle for students who aren’t good test takers and racially biased questions, it is important for the school to recognize these challenges and work to eliminate these barriers. This can and should be done by ensuring the curriculum pacing is aligned with the PSAT and SAT exams, teaching testing techniques, vocabulary development, and offering test prep courses. There also needs to be continued education for the student population and families as to why these assessments are so important so they can find value in them. What is unique to Lyons Township students is the various level options for courses. Many high schools have honors and AP classes; however many don’t offer a step between traditional courses and honors courses as LTHS does with excel courses. There are options for strong academic rigor in our school. Our responsibility (staff, administration, board, parents, and community) is to ensure our students are prepared for these high-stakes tests.
5. District 204’s board of education is planning to sell 70-acres of land it owns in Willow Springs, possibly before the next school board is seated. What is your view on whether or not the land should be sold? If you support the sale, what do you believe is the best use of the proceeds?
I understand that the board is looking to generate much needed revenue to support infrastructure for our school without having to try to pass a referendum. However, ultimately, it is up to the village of Willow Springs to change the zoning to allow the purchase. I believe the current board was looking for the most value, knowing the village will ultimately need to accept the proposal. This is an outsider’s point of view. With any major decision, thousands of smaller decisions must be made. I cannot begin to know all the questions that were asked, what variables were considered, and the results of the thousands of smaller decisions that were made to come to the point they are now. However, I do question how much transparency and communication there was with the community. I do appreciate the communication that was shared on January 26th, however, the community made it clear that they were not aware of the direction the district was heading. Whether the district felt it was open in their communication or not, doesn’t matter if the community feels disenfranchised. Currently, I am not a fan of selling this property to industry, however taking a definitive side without knowing all the information, I believe, is reckless and irresponsible.
6. What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing District 204 and how should the school board address them?
Academic Rigor–We need to motivate kids to come to school and attend class on time. As students get older at LTHS, we see higher chronic truancy rates. Students who feel safe, welcome, and wanted in any environment do better. This is no different than us as adults. If we work in a supportive environment, we perform better. I believe this is already occurring at LTHS, however, it must always remain a focus for our school. Similarly, we must continue to maintain the academic rigor of our students to ensure they are prepared for high-stakes tests. This requires scheduled curriculum reviews and revisions to ensure our curriculum aligns with these assessments. Similarly, the school must continue to provide test preparation for our students to ensure performance on these assessments. Post Covid, we must continue to show students the value of doing well on the tests regardless of college’s requirements of these exams for admittance and scholarship opportunities.
Social Emotional Support for Students–I applaud LTHS for their increase in social workers and counselors over the past several years. We find comfort in data and statistics, however, the recent study by the CDC (USA Today CDC Article) and the warnings we are hearing from the Surgeon General (Surgeon General Warning) shows that students are experiencing more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), struggling with anxiety and depression more than ever before, and ultimately completing suicide at higher rates. This is far from comforting and schools have an obligation to intervene when we know this epidemic is in our schools. There is more work to be done to improve the social and emotional support for students and I believe that I have the knowledge, connections, and insight to help facilitate this change.
Facilities-In order for students to learn at a high level, they need to be in a comfortable environment that supports their engagement in class. While I love the historical aesthetics of LTHS, we need air conditioning. Students struggle to learn when they are overheating in the fall and spring. This in combination with older classrooms that need updating, facilities like locker rooms, bathrooms, gyms, and cafeterias need to be modernized and made more accessible. I know that this has been at the forefront of our school and board’s priorities as witnessed at Lyons Township Community Advisory Council meetings. This is a priority that our board needs to continue to support.