District 102 School Board Candidate
Why are you running to be on the school board? What motivates you and what experience and perspectives would you bring to the job? How would those be valuable as an elected official?
I am running for re-election because I believe we have charted a successful course as a district and I know I am qualified to ensure that we maintain that course and address the challenges we will encounter after the pandemic.
Having served one term as a board member, I can say that I have continued to learn how to serve in this role throughout my term, and this experience will be invaluable in my second term in office.
As a school board member you will be asked to balance what’s best for the district as a whole with what might be in the interest of specific groups. How will you do that? When have you had occasion to do something similar in the past and how did you accomplish that?
I have demonstrated my ability to engage numerous stakeholders, with disparate interests and viewpoints, and found ways to work towards shared goals. An example would be the development of our saliva surveillance program, which was conceived of during discussions with our teachers over the summer while discussing how to return to school “safely”.
In this way, we were able to generate buy-in from our teachers, both for the surveillance program and our plan to re-open more broadly, allowing us to be one of the few districts I am aware of that has been in-person for the entire academic year.
The past year has been a challenge from the perspective of balancing the social, emotional and academic needs of students with the need to ensure the health and safety of all in the extended school family. What could the school district have done better to achieve that balance and what succeeded? What planning is needed to respond more quickly to any future disruptions in the traditional learning environment?
I think, like every district in America, we were caught somewhat flat-footed by the realities imposed on the pandemic in the spring of 2020. However, I think we demonstrated ourselves to be very resilient and willing to take risks in the fall.
In addition to the saliva surveillance program, I think being willing to meet the challenges associated with two learning models offering both remote and in-person learning models allowed our district to provide the needs of each of our students to the best of our ability. Having worked with both models for the entirety of the year, we are also well positioned to respond to future disruptions, should that be necessary.
How do you define equity? How has your thinking around the subject of equity evolved and what should District 102 do to address that subject?
I would define as providing all students with the resources they need, as individuals, to succeed. Our district has been a leader on the topic of equity, which has culminated in an equity policy that we have recently adopted as a district.
I have certainly learned a great deal about the concept of equity, and its implementation, by being part of the discussions associated with adopting this policy. I would encourage anyone interested to review it on our district website. I wholeheartedly support this policy.
As a school board member you will play a role in budgeting. How will your values inform your approach to budgeting and fiscal planning?
I realize the responsibility to act as a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. In my first three years in office, our district added to the reserve while providing exceptional learning opportunities to our students. Although last year, our financial situation took a step in the wrong direction, we should quickly rectify this in the coming year and I expect we will be able to continue to add to our reserve in the coming years.
What are the biggest challenges facing District 102 and how should the school board address them?
When the pandemic is over, we will need to approach the consequences that the pandemic had on our students, both at the academic and social/emotional level. This will require a steady, focused approach that effectively identifies the needs of our students, one that reacts to the needs of our students without being reflexive or reactionary, but rather resolved and determine to understand and address the issues underlying the data we are presented over the next few years.