Willie Merrill

District 94 School Board Candidate

Age: 36


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 school board to help be a part of some of the tough decisions ahead and be a voice for the ever changing population that our district serves. I am motivated hearing the entire community becoming more involved in the recent years and being able to hear and help with issues that have been brought forth. 

As a former graduate and previous staff member, (Boys Basketball coach), I have seen firsthand how great of a school and community that Komarek can be. That’s the main reason I moved back into the area when my children were of age. I plan to listen to what is being said on both sides and work together with the already established well run board to come up with the best outcome. 

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?

Well I would treat this board like any team that I’ve ever worked with. There’s always going to be tough decisions but that is why there will be several members to weigh the options. 

I plan to make sure all points are heard and work to the best of my abilities to come up with the best option. In previous situations, we took the time together to develop a cohesive strategy that best helps the tasks set before us. Everyone presents their side and we will all work together to find common ground.

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?

Well as you mentioned this past year has been a challenge. I think things did turn for better as my family, and even several others running for board positions took to the streets to try and answer any questions people may have had with the changes happening in the district.

I think as we go forward we need to continue to be transparent with the district and make sure everyone is informed on the changes happening within the school. The continual building zoom calls for construction, recording of board meetings, and just making sure people can be heard. 

In my opinion the Komarek Adminstration has being doing an amazing job lately holding these extra meetings weekly to keep everyone informed. I do recognize that everyone will not be happy or satisfied but we need to continue to do our best moving forward.

How do you define equity? How has your thinking around the subject of equity evolved and what should District 94 do to address that subject?

Equity is something you value and will fight for. Komarek is a one town district and we need to continue to improve our situation to continue to draw great staff and families to our amazing district. 

A couple years ago a patient of mine saved an article for me about how North Riverside was ranked as one of the greatest places to live and have a family. We need to continually strive to remain in that conversation and stand out from the rest because it is an amazing place to live!

As a school board member you will play a role in budgeting. How will your values inform your approach to budgeting and fiscal planning?

My approach will always be finding ways to save money. As a family we always have competitions with ways to save money to reward ourselves in the end. I would approach the school in the same demeanor. I plan to work with the other board members to develop new strategies to continue to push our district forward.

What are the biggest challenges facing District 94 and how should the school board address them?

First thing that is obvious is the impending school construction and revamping. We need to continue to be transparent and build the best school that the kids, staff, and community deserve.

We also need to keep the community involved, even those of whom that don’t have kids in Komarek. We can show them that the new building will be open to them as well and something they can be a part of too.

We need to overall continue to strive to be better each day and be the district that everyone can be proud of!