The Forest Park Review sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Review’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.
Name: Frank Evans
Previous Political Experience: None
Previous/Current Community Involvement:
Occupation: Financial Advisor
Education: University of Illinois at Chicago
1. Why are you running for the board of Lyons Township High School (LTHS)?
I am running because I feel that the school has strayed from its fundamental responsibility of providing a safe, inclusive, and challenging learning environment for students- and that I can help guide the school back to those basic principles.
What motivates you and what experience and perspectives would you bring to the job?
I have been self-employed my entire adult life. First as a floor trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, then as a financial advisor since 2002. I understand budgeting and finance along with the responsibilities of a business owner–such as meeting payroll and operating expenses.
How would these be valuable as an elected official?
A businessowners perspective would help the Board become better stewards of taxpayer funds.
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?
I feel that every student regardless of race or socio-economic status should have support and access to every resource available to help them learn and succeed. Has this not always been the case at LTHS?
Has LTHS started to achieve equitable outcomes for students? How can it do better?
I don’t know if they have achieved “equitable” outcomes. What I do know, though, is that there have been several high-profile incidents/fights at LTHS- reported in the media- that have resulted in significant monetary payouts to those affected. I would advocate for an analysis of what has changed the in culture of LTHS to allow such incidents to become commonplace and find a solution to stop this unacceptable behavior.
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?
LTHS needs to tighten the requirement for homework, testing and attendance. Multiple test retakes, late homework acceptance and lax attendance requirements are unacceptable. So, yes- it needs to change. Back to basics.
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?
According to ISBE, students at LTHS are performing at a 49% reading proficiency, 28% are chronically absent yet LTHS graduates 95% of students?? How can this be? Colleges and universities see this and know that a LTHS diploma is not the advantage it once was. Students are not prepared, and this is unacceptable.
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?
LTHS owns the land, and it is their right to sell. However, I DO NOT support the sale of the land to an industrial developer. The land is not zoned for commercial property, it would decimate the property values of the surrounding community and negatively affect the health of students at Pleasantdale Elementary. Furthermore, the lack of transparency by the Board in the decision to sell is alarming. Such an impactful decision should have had significant involvement of the residents and surrounding communities. I feel strongly that a decision should WAIT until after the new Board is seated and community engaged properly.
If you support the sale, what do you believe is the best use of the proceeds?
I support the sale only under my previously stated conditions. If those conditions are met, only then will a discussion of which infrastructure or investment needs to support LTHS is appropriate.
6. What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing District 204 and how should the school board address them?
Guiding the school back to pre-pandemic levels of excellence, allowing transparency and developing community engagement. We need to restore our school rating to a 10, provide a safe learning environment for all students and become accountable for all social, fiscal and educational directives.