I began my career in 1993, as an education policy advisor to our Naperville Representatives in Congress. This gave me a strong foundation in education policy and a rich understanding of Naperville and District 203. I lost my husband to cancer in 2009, causing me to step back from the work I was doing to focus on my children. During this time, I spent time volunteering at Mill Street Elementary, where my three daughters attended school. I am still involved as a parent volunteer at Jefferson Junior High and Naperville North, their current schools. I was first elected to the District 203 Board in 2013. I was re-elected in 2017 and elected President of the Board by my Board colleagues.
Some of my most impactful volunteer work has been with SUCCESS, founded by our district families to empower and ensure the success of our African American students and other students of color. For my work with SUCCESS and advocacy for students, I was recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education with its Award of Excellence for Outstanding Contributions to Illinois Education in 2018. Far greater than any award, the relationships I have made as a part of this work with parents and students have enriched my life, profoundly influenced my understanding of equity and inclusion and will continue to inspire my work on the Board.
I have also been active with the IASB to advocate for issues that impact our school district. In 2020, I was elected the Co-Chair of the Legislative Education Network of DuPage. This leadership position representing the DuPage County school districts, enables me to use my background and experience to support the needs of our students and school districts in working with our state and federal legislators.
I bring my knowledge of education policy as well as my perspective as a parent and parent volunteer to my Board of Education leadership. These experiences have strengthened my ability to advocate for the success of all students and families in our district.
The education of our children is the most important job we have as a community. When I first ran for the Board in 2013, my goals were to champion the success of every student, establish a strong partnership with our community and use our budget resources responsibly. Though District 203 has always produced outstanding results for students, in the past, these results were not equitable and showed large gaps in achievement for students of color, students who are economically disadvantaged and students with special needs.
Over the past eight years, I have dedicated myself to advocating for all students to achieve our District 203 mission, and we have made outstanding strides. Our work to close achievement gaps, establish school communities that are inclusive and equitable, strengthen social and emotional learning and serve more students in early childhood and summer school has resulted in District 203 attaining the highest number of exemplary schools for a unit district in this state. We have made so much progress, but we have more to do and the pandemic has added to our challenges.
As a Board leader during this challenging year for students, parents, teachers, staff and our whole community, I have worked to listen to and understand the deep concerns of all in our community, lead with empathy, make decisions that prioritize the health and safety of students and staff, implement the changing health and education guidance regarding COVID-19, consider the very best research and data and above all, support students’ needs, whether they are learning remotely or in person.
I am committed to continuing my advocacy for all students and families in District 203. I believe that my life’s work in policy and advocacy together with my years of dedicated Board leadership and community service have uniquely prepared me for the leadership necessary to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and continue our outstanding progress toward the success of every student in our schools.
The pandemic has been extremely challenging for students, parents, teachers and our whole community. Providing a safe in person learning environment for students and staff, increasing the amount of in person time safely, as well as prioritizing students’ academic and social and emotional needs resulting from the pandemic are my top priorities as we progress through this school year and into the coming year. To ensure that we meet students’ needs, the district is developing $5 million in additional programming to provide academic and SEL support. This will continue to be a priority in the summer months, into the 2021-2022 school year and beyond.
Each member of our community has experienced loss and change during the pandemic. In addition to our work to support student needs, I believe the work that we are doing as a district to support emotional wellness and build resiliency will be integral to the healing and recovery of our students, families, staff and our community partnership. Our strong partnership with our community is an essential aspect of the continued success of our students.
The pandemic has encompassed our whole community. As we return to more of our pre-pandemic lives, our challenge will be to continue making progress in the areas we have set as a priority. Beginning in 2017, the Board committed to accelerating student progress by dedicating a $2 million annual investment toward closing achievement gaps. This essential work is ensuring that all students are successful in our schools. I believe it must continue to be one of our top priorities.
Over the summer, our Board passed a Resolution affirming our commitment to systemic review of our policies, practices, programs, curricula and culture to undo inequities and achieve a district culture that is inclusive and truly achieves equity for all students. These goals are included in our Comprehensive Equity Plan. I believe this work is essential to fully achieve our District 203 mission for all students.
From the outset our goal has been to return to full time in person learning as soon as it can be done safely. By implementing health guidance and adding mitigations such as COVID testing, we were able to begin hybrid in person learning safely this January.
The greatest factors preventing us from implementing five day a week in person learning are the six feet social distancing requirements advocated by the CDC, IDPH and DuPage County Health Department, along with the high number of our students (72%) who wish to be in person.
Once DuPage County metrics have declined below substantial spread and teachers and staff have been vaccinated, our health regulators may adjust social distancing requirements. We are working daily with these entities to obtain vaccines for our teachers and staff and to prepare for additional guidance based on new health and safety data and research.
However, we are already at work to increase in person time for students as quickly as we can while still maintaining a safe learning environment. Efforts are underway to prioritize more in person time for our earliest learners, students at all levels who are not successful in the remote environment and students with IEPs.
It is essential that we meet students’ needs, whether they are learning remotely or in person. The prioritization of in person learning for students with special needs and those who are not meeting standards has shown success in improving student progress. We are also working to develop additional support options for the summer and next fall to help students recover any lost academic growth as they transition to next year.
Though remote learning has been challenging, it has also given us new tools to increase participation. Virtual zoom conferences, meetings and remote participation in the case of severe weather are areas where remote learning brought improvement and these should be continued. In the future, we should also consider offering more online and blended courses.
Our community is facing economic challenges due to the pandemic that many families and businesses have never faced. Though our Board of Education has always recognized the impact of the property tax burden and worked to reduce it, we are even more aware that many families have lost jobs and income. Knowing this, our Board of Education supported an unprecedented taxpayer reimbursement of $10 million this year, to return funds to residents and business owners that were not expended as planned due to the pandemic.
Like our community, our state is facing economic challenges due to the pandemic and has a loss of revenue that may impact budgets for years to come. Though the state’s proposed budget holds education funding flat this year, the state shortfall may reduce our state funding for education in the future, rejuvenate discussions on a pension cost shift or provoke an eventual state income tax increase that is accompanied by a property tax freeze.
We have prepared for the impact of the state’s fiscal troubles by ensuring that our reserve is able to see us through short term challenges. However, any of the above state actions could require us to take additional action to reduce our expenditures.
I believe we are charting the right course. We are reducing expenditures where possible so that we have the funding necessary to best serve our students. We are also utilizing state and local grants to make use of these resources when we expand services such as early childhood education. Likewise, we are developing partnerships with the Naperville Education Foundation, YMCA, Champions, the Naperville Park District and others to ensure that we utilize our community’s resources to assist our students and families as well. In addition, by recognizing the burden of taxation on our community and keeping our tax burden as low as possible, we are maintaining our community’s strong support for our schools.
Our family resides in the Scott, Madison and Naperville Central High School boundary areas. However, my son also attended Steeple Run and Kennedy Junior High School.
My education consists of a Master of Education with Concentration in Administration and Supervision from National-Louis University and Bachelor of Science double major in Mathematics and Athletic Training from Elmhurst College.
I have been honored to serve on the Board of Education since 2013 and have been Vice President during the last four years.
I have served students in our community for 29 years. My dedication to District 203 began when I was hired to teach mathematics and serve as the assistant athletic trainer at Naperville North High School. My involvement transitioned from employment to community contributor as I was a leader on ten Home & School committees, served in scouting which included Committee Chair, led students on mission trips, tutored students in mathematics, coached students in soccer, chess and cross country and was elected president of Hobson School Parent Board.
I have volunteered for both the Naperville Central Cross Country and Track Teams. Over the last six years, that commitment has increased to coaching them on a daily basis during summer camps and the fall season. Taking an active role in the lives of our students provides perspective and insight into the challenges that our students are facing.
On January 13, 2021, I was hired as Chief of Staff for Representative Yang Rohr in a legislative role to serve our community. In this role, I have meet with other local legislators and elected officials, researched bills, led interns, and assisted community members with obtaining services from the state. This role will complement my elected position as in the past we have met with our representatives and senators to discuss the impact that legislation will have on our school district and now I will have even more insight into educated related legislation.
My passions all revolve around education and serving my community. There are many things that we are asked to participate in and as we decide how to best utilize our time my filter has always been, how does what I am doing help to support education and our community.
Experience as a board member is critical as we continue to work through these difficult times during a pandemic. The community knows me and feels confident reaching out to me to share their input and feedback knowing that I will listen and bring their concerns to our meetings. With opinions at opposite extremes it is important to take this community input into consideration and work to find the best solutions that prioritize student learning while not compromising the safety of our students and community. The administration respects my input and knows that I expect a high level of accountability in every decision before the Board of Education.
During the past eight years, I have represented our community by expressing their concerns at board meetings, while always prioritizing what is best for the education of all students. Many new initiatives have been implemented while I have served on the board but at the same time we were able to save taxpayers $32.7 million. I have been honored to be recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education as a “Those Who Excel” School Board Member. It is my hope to continue to serve through this pandemic as transition during times of crisis is difficult. I am offering my dedication, experience and commitment to continue to serve the community of Naperville School District 203.
My top priority at this point is creating an environment that educates our students without compromising the health of our community. Now that we have begun to move students into hybrid learning, we have to focus on data that determines how much learning loss students may have endured and how we can best create opportunities for them to recover. This will begin to be addressed with additional offerings in summer school this year. A high priority for the board has been to address the achievement gaps that we see in our students. The hard work that is being done by staff each and everyday was beginning to make progress in this area and we were excited to see this progress before the pandemic hit. We will need to refocus our attention on how we can support students to minimize achievement gaps once again.
Another of my priorities is being a voice of transparency to our community and holding a high level of accountability for our administration. These have always been my goals but in current times there is much divide in our community and building relationships between our board, administration, staff and community is important to me.
My last priority is one of financial stewardship. Our current board works very diligently to balance the budget with the ever growing concerns from our taxpayers. The $10 million surplus we just returned to the taxpayers was important to address the strain placed on our community due to the pandemic. At the same time, we will be dedicating additional financial resources to address the additional needs of students that have arose over the past year. There is a fine balance between maintaining the level of exemplary education that we provide in District 203 without taxing our community to the fullest extent. As stated, through votes I have taken on the board we have saved the taxpayer $32.7 million dollars while having the highest number of exemplary schools in the state for unit school districts.
The Return to Learn plan is comprehensive and includes four stages of learning that adapt to the level of mitigations set by the experts. Our board, administration and community are not the experts when it comes to infectious disease so we must rely on the CDC, IDPH and DCHD for guidance on metrics and timetables. Unfortunately, the spread within the community and the guidance from the health department have created shifts at very untimely critical steps in the efforts to return students to the classroom. We should continue to work toward increased communication while in times of so much change. We are currently in hybrid learning, where students and families have a choice of either in-person learning or remote learning. Our challenge is to remain in hybrid by implementing all of the mitigations we have put in place and to work toward moving students into full-time in-person learning. We will continue to evaluate and adjust to meet the needs of students and gradually increase the time for in-person learning for students who want this option. Every step of the way, we have made changes based on feedback from staff, students and community members. Currently, the number of students wanting in-person learning exceeds our ability to maintain socially distancing within our buildings and classrooms for full in-person classes. As vaccines become more readily available or recommendations from the experts support change, we will be ready to shift to full in-person learning for all students. We will be governed by the state as to what will be required at that point. However, our course selections already have a variety of options for on-line and blended learning so it is my hope that we will be able to continue and expand on these options to meet the needs of all students. This has been difficult for everyone but as I said in a board meeting, I commend everyone, our students, staff and parents for pivoting with us and adjusting to so much change.
Unlike many districts, we rely on the State of Illinois for only about 8% of our revenue, which equates to about $22.5 million. The Governor just presented his Budget and State of the State of Illinois Address on February 17, where he committed to not decreasing the funding for education in the budget. Although, this is wonderful news, I know there is further talk about shifting the expense of pensions to local districts. For the state, pension debt is growing and becoming an increasingly larger percent of the expense for the state and one of the highest in the country. This comes after years of not fully funding the pension system. Now the state finds itself in a situation of increased expenses due the pandemic, a vote of no from the taxpayers on the graduated income tax and the pension debt continuing to grow. Although pensions are the biggest issue for the state of Illinois, population loss is also a significant concern. Either the state will distribute the obligation across the state or it will become the burden of each local school district. As a district, we need to plan and consider our five year financial forecast with this in mind. Currently, we are projecting flat funding from the state and federal funds which appear to be accurate. For years we calculated the shift of pension debit into our planning and then moved away from that as an assumption. Currently, we are no longer planning for that pension shift but depending on how the state deals with their pension debt, we may need to begin adding that assumption to our forecasts once again. Due to planning on the part of the Board of Education and administration we have a solid financial situation but there are always many unknowns that are impossible to anticipate.
My children attend Kingsley Elementary, Lincoln Junior High, and soon Naperville Central High School. As a parent, I have had the opportunity to witness first hand the exceptional education and staff of District 203. I have been able to volunteer in my children’s classrooms and engaged in community activities such as girl scouts, baseball, lacrosse, choir, band, and soccer. Additionally, one of my children has an IEP so we have been able to work directly with the specialized supports and administration within the schools and have been super impressed by the pedagogy and emphasis on each individual student’s success. As a parent, I have a personal perspective of the complexities of decisions and compromises being forced on parents, especially during this COVID19 pandemic. I am working from home and supporting my children through their remote learning, and attempting to support our additional mental, emotional, and physical health.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts at Bluffton University with a focus on Secondary Mathematics Education and a Master of Social Science Administration at Case Western Reserve University. For the past 20 years, I have been working in the field of social work with children, youth, families, and communities impacted by substance use, homelessness, and complexities of poverty through an educational, prevention, and intervention lens. For the past 15 years, I have been in senior-level management, which has trained me to address issues from a systemic perspective and ensure fiscal responsibility and transparency through millions of dollars of grant funds. I served as a volunteer board member for All Day Montessori School for four years as the vice president and chair of the fundraising and marketing committee while my children attended the school. During my tenure on the board, we oversaw the transition of the Head of School, and secured grants for capital improvements and resources for the professional development of the staff.
As a parent in an interracial family, this year made it very apparent how important local politics are on all families to ensure safety and opportunities are available to all. Naperville is incredibly diverse and an amazing community to live and get involved as a citizen. As a result, I decided to run for school board because this is the area that is the center for embedding hope and creating a future for all youth to reach their fullest potential. I want to show my kids that they have the power to create a better world and their voice matters.
My priorities on the school board will be the following:
1) To ensure the schools have the resources and support in place to reopen responsibility according to the guidance and advice of the healthcare professionals and scientists that ensures that all children, faculty, and families are safe. I anticipate more resources will need to be available for social-emotional support to students that have been impacted by the social isolation mandated by the pandemic as well as fear due to personal or perceived loss. Additionally, we will need to evaluate the academic gaps that may have occurred over this past year and develop plans for resources such as tutoring and summer academic activities to help students quickly close those achievement gaps.
2) To help District 203 create an intentional and integrated diversity, equity, and inclusion plan that enhances the exceptional education and resources we have to match the beautifully diverse community we live in. Representation matters within the teachers and staff, books read, history studied, and influencers celebrated. Despite these areas of progress, there are areas we can continue to reform including data collection on access to honors classes, IEP and 504s, and discipline metrics that could be evaluated to help identify areas of focus for equity.
3) To commit to a fiscally responsible school board budget that ensures students have the resources needed to match their academic, social-emotional, and extracurricular needs without raising taxes and increasing the financial burden on families. We are fortunate to live in a District that is currently fiscally secure, which is evident by them returning $10 million in taxpayer dollars this year. If elected to the board of education, I would continue to commit to fiscal responsibility and prioritize resources to ensure that schools and staff have the safety resources in place in including testing, masks, hand sanitizer, air purifiers, etc.
I believe the impacts of COVID19 will have long-lasting impacts on how we approach education, and it is important for the District to be able to learn from the innovations put in place this year. The diversity of the students and families throughout the district is vast, which includes their needs. Many families need their children to return to school and benefit from the regular in-person routine, especially as parents are transitioning back to work. However, maintaining safety protocols like wearing masks, COVID screenings, social distancing, vaccinations, and constant sanitation need to be in place to ensure that everyone remains healthy. For other families, remaining remote is very important to maintain the safety of their children and family members that are vulnerable to COVID and other diseases. They have thrived under remote learning and it has increased their accessibility to school and resources. This also applies to teachers and staff who have worked exceptionally hard to adapt their curriculum online and are pulled in many directions as they are trying to balance remote and in-person in the hybrid model.
Some solutions could be to maintain a remote academy with teachers focused on this type of curriculum and the ability to provide more of a full-day online curriculum for students needing this type of intervention. This would include office hours for students that need individual support. In my personal experience because teachers are trying to balance both in-person and remote, then this can make it difficult for them to excel and focus on any one group of students. As for the students that remain in-person maintaining the safety protocols is very important including wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing, and regular testing. These procedures should be in place until the majority of the general population is vaccinated and the cases of COVID19 are safely managed within the community.
Illinois is projected to have a $4 billion budget deficit for the next five fiscal years, which includes a backlog in payments to providers. In November 2020 after the failure of the Fair Tax Amendment to pass, Governor Pritzker warned that each state agency will need to prepare for a 5% decrease in the current fiscal year and up to 10% in FY22. As a board member, I would need to review with my colleagues and administration how this will translate into the direct impact on District 203. We will have to look at areas that could be reduced without compromising the quality and access to academic, social-emotional, and extracurricular activities and ensuring these activities remain safe.
A) I currently live in the Naper Elementary School, Washington Jr. High School and Naperville North High School attendance area. Both of my daughters attended North, but one of them attended Beebe and Jefferson, while the other attended Beebe, an transferred to Naper for 5th grade before attending Washington Jr. High School.
B) From an education standpoint, I have an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Michigan. Professionally, I have over 25 years of experience working in the private sector, specifically in the healthcare industry. I have worked for three fortune 500 companies and have consistently met or exceeded my objectives throughout my career. Wherever I have been, I have invested my time and energy in developing people. I have done this through charitable work and volunteering at multiple organizations, but also through mentoring others, supporting and leading corporate diversity and inclusion initiatives, and being involved in recruiting new talent to the organizations for which I have worked. Through my experiences, I have learned that the success of any organization, whether it be a for-profit, or a not-for-profit organization begins with identifying the end customer that the organization is set-up to serve and aligning the goals to serve the needs of that customer. In district 203, the students and their families are ultimate customers. We need to make sure that everything we are spending on is geared toward achieving our goal of providing the best education for our students, which will prepare them to compete in the global marketplace. The success of our students must be the yardstick by which we measure all of our programs.
C. In terms of involvement with our schools, I have participated in several activities as a parent within the district, and I have proudly served on the District 203 Board of Education since 2016.
I am seeking re-election to the school board for the same reason I ran the first time, and that is because I still believe I can make a difference. I have a passion for helping others achieve their full potential. I believe that district 203 has a responsibility to provide a learning environment where every student has the opportunity to maximize their potential; and I want to continue to be part of helping the district fulfill that responsibility. I have two daughters who graduated from the district, and I have seen how their time as students in 203 has prepared them to be successful at the next level, and I want to provide that support to all students and their families. The ability to drive focus on objectives and goals and meet customer needs is something that I have been successful doing throughout my career, and is experience that I have and will continue to apply as a member of the school board. These experiences combined with my passion and energy for developing people and serving my community, will help me to support the district's efforts to maintain and build upon our performance as the top community unit school district in the state and one of the top districts in the country.
I believe recovering from the pandemic is the greatest challenge we are facing. While on the surface this is an obvious answer, I think that it goes a bit deeper than the lost time of instruction, and potential learning loss that we may see once the dust settles. To me, the pandemic exposed some challenges that have likely been present all along, but that have been masked by the fact that we are a high performing school district that has not really experienced a great deal of adversity. I think the greatest challenge is to ensure that we collectively come out of this period in our history better than we were before going into the pandemic; getting to a place where as a community can align on what is important and avoid the finger pointing and name calling that has arisen. I for one think that we owe each other better than that, and we need to display a bit more empathy for the variety of needs and circumstances that exist in this community. Our district can and must play a pivotal role in helping the broader community heal from the social-emotional effects of this pandemic, rebuilding the bridges that have been damaged by social distance, and recognizing that we all do better when we ALL do better.
My key focus areas will continue to be:
1. Student Growth- Ensuring that we are meeting the needs of ALL students, giving each their best chance to succeed. This includes extra support needed for students and families given the impact of the pandemic; and ensuring that our teachers and staff have the resources and tools needed to support the students
2. College & Career Readiness- Providing students with the skills they will need to succeed at the next stage in life; whether that is attending college or immediately entering the workforce. Helping students transition to new ways of working.
3. Financial Stewardship- Maintaining a responsible approach to district spending, driving maximum results for the investments that we are making in our students and schools
Our hybrid return to learn plan is working well. Students are excited to have higher levels of in-person instruction, and the mitigations and protocols seem to be working well to keep our students and staff safe. As we look to transition to 5 days per week, we must continue to monitor the infection rate in our community, perform adequate levels of surveillance testing to understand the presence of the virus within our schools, and assess the level of adherence to guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing. While not a full requirement to go to 5 day per week in-person instruction, we need to continue to pursue vehicles to enable vaccinations to be received by our front line staff. Top priority should be given to our youngest students who struggle the most with remote learning, and are also the least vulnerable to the virus.
Despite the growing pains, there have been a lot of good learnings from the remote the experience. I think that we should retain and continue to enhance our ability to deliver instruction remotely. I also believe that remote learning can play a role in helping to address logistical issues such as working through different scheduling options such as late arrival for High School students. Having a remote learning days instead of a snow day will enable us to have a more predictable calendar, which can help families who want to schedule vacations, and not have to be concerned that the academic year will be extended due to make-up days. Remote is also a critical element of preparing students with the skills to excel in the world beyond their time in 203. Because of the pandemic, the world of work has likely changed forever, an the need to be self directed while working remotely has increasingly become an expectation. Maintaining some level of remote instruction and driving students to be proficient or at least comfortable in this learning environment will benefit 203 students by keeping them current, or ahead of their peers.
The State of Illinois budget challenges and uncertainty are definitely an important issue for us. Fortunately, unlike many districts in the state, we do not rely as heavily on state funding to support our core programing, and we can maintain a high performing district even if the current level of state funding were to go away. That said, it is important for us to continue to be good stewards of the resources that we have as a district, and as a board member, I have voted for several measures to reduce the tax burden on the community. The only way we have been able to do that has been to constantly evaluate our spending and seeking more ways to be efficient. We have run budget surpluses where our revenues have outpaced our expenditures while simultaneously reducing the burden on the community. We will continue to monitor the State funding situation, but through solid financial stewardship, we stand ready to address any issues with the state funding.
I moved to Naperville specifically for District 203! I live in the Elmwood, Lincoln, and Naperville Central area. I have a third grader at Elmwood.
I have a degree in Sociology and much of my studies focused on inequalities in the education system. I was involved with a research project regarding the impact of MAP testing on bilingual students. I also served as a student ambassador on NIU's College of Education Faculty Research Committee and worked on research initiatives involving teacher training, student achievement, and multicultural education. Furthermore, I have experience in the educational sales field as a test preparation provider. I worked with large school districts to execute data-driven test preparation programs for 6-12th grade students. Most recently, I held a position at an educational nonprofit organization. I worked directly with teachers and administration to implement college and career readiness, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship programs for K-12 students in DuPage county.
Much of my free time is spent engaging with my local schools and community. I was the Room Parent in my child's class for two years and hope to be Room Parent again post-COVID. I enjoy volunteering in the classroom, in gym class, and at school-sponsored events. Also, I am very passionate about helping homeless individuals in our community. I regularly volunteer with DuPage PADS to oversee overnight shelter operations. In addition, I have recently volunteered with Feed My Starving Children and DuPage Continuum of Care. I am always looking for more ways to get involved!
Though I have been planning to run for the school board for a while, the COVID-19 pandemic is what motivated me to get involved now. The pandemic has led to challenges that none of us have ever experienced before. Now, more than ever, our kids need a strong advocate for both their education and their safety. I am passionate about education and stay up-to-day on current educational legislation facing our schools.
It is important to remember that school board members serve four year terms, so we must look at more than just COVID-19. With my experience and background, I have the knowledge and skills to make a great board member for the entire term.
Today, the most important issue facing the Naperville Community Unit School District 203 school board is the COVID-19 pandemic. The board members must look out for the health and safety of all students and staff, while ensuring that our students are still receiving the highest quality education. The board must consider ways to help students recover from pandemic-related learning loss. As a single mother, I especially understand the need for the board and district to offer supplemental resources to students in low income families. As a board member, I will prioritize academic resources to help struggling students and push for instructional time to be maximized.
Furthermore, the board must continue to push District 203's diversity and inclusion efforts. It is imperative that the district is monitoring student achievement to ensure that the achievement gap is not widening due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I strongly believe that the achievement gap needs to be a primary focus for the board and research-based strategies must be put in place to close the gap.
In addition to protecting the physical health of our students, the board must also look out for the mental health of the students in the district. The district has made great strides on implementing socioemotional learning in schools, but we must further expand services especially as students are returning to school in-person. Our kids have been greatly impacted by the pandemic and we must not underestimate the impact that it has had on them. It is important that all of our schools are properly staffed with mental health professionals and that students have easy access to the services. Mental health affects a student's academic performance, so we must consider mental health services as a core part of the district operations.
As I previously stated, the health and safety of our students and staff must remain a top priority. However, I believe that our students learn best in the classroom and would like to explore safe ways to get our students back in school. First and foremost, we must allow our teachers and staff the opportunity to get vaccinated. I understand that the vaccine supply is currently low, but this is a critical step to getting our kids back in school. Additionally, it is incredibly important to monitor COVID-19 community spread metrics while phasing students back into school.
In order to get students back in the classroom full time, the board must get creative. Spacing has been an issue, so we must look at various ways to maximize space in our schools such as using libraries, gyms, and lunchrooms to ensure proper social distancing. Furthermore, schools must ensure proper ventilation and air purification systems. Students must continue to wear masks and proper PPE to prevent spread in classrooms. The board must evaluate whether additional staff will be needed to account for smaller class sizes. Due to the large number of logistics to work through, it will take some time to get our kids back in school full time. However, the district must work diligently now to get our kids back in school as quickly as possible.
In addition to welcoming students back into the buildings, I believe that we must continue to offer the option to remain remote to meet the needs of all District 203 families. It is very important that the remote learners are not left behind.
I believe that the district must communicate a clear plan to get our kids back in school. Talking with other parents in the community, there seems to be a lot of confusion as to what the steps are between phase three and phase four of the district's Return-to-Learn plan. As a board member, I strongly value clear communication and transparency with District 203 families.
Public education funding cuts are quite common in the State of Illinois. Due to the current budget crisis, the budget for schools is decreasing once again. However, Naperville's property taxes make up a large part of the funding received by District 203. Therefore, the funding decrease will have less of an impact on NCUSD 203's budget than other public schools in Illinois. The board must continue to be fiscally responsible and find ways to work with the decrease in funding without compromising the excellence that District 203 is known for.
The district can continue to work on developing new partnerships with nonprofit organizations to offer services to students without as much of a financial impact.
a) Highlands, Kennedy, Naperville Central
b) I believe that I would bring many valuable voices to the Board. As a Professor of Computer Science at The University of Chicago, I have been thrust into the world of digital education the same as the teachers in our District. As an Apple Distinguished Educator, I am part of a community of educators at the forefront of educational thought and practice, allowing me to be engaged with educators and administrators across the world, providing a global perspective on pedagogy and curriculum. I have been researching and promoting efforts to integrate Computer Science into the K-12 curriculum. As a scientist, my focus is on computational drug discovery and I spent over a decade at a National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases research center at Argonne National Laboratory. In this capacity, I have conducted research, written grants, managed multi-year budgets, and collaborated with diverse groups of scientists, clinicians and administrators worldwide. In this time where science is informing and driving policy, I have the expertise and experience to support objective decision making.
c) My children are my life and I take tremendous pride in being as involved as possible in their lives both in and out of school. I have cherished all of the opportunities I have had to volunteer at my children’s schools. Over the years I have been a weekly LC volunteer, room parent, SFCP volunteer, proofreader, chaperone, science fair presenter, and helped a Kindergarten class silk-screen t-shirts, to name a few. I also started a computer club to teach computational thinking and coding. Truth be told, I miss being in the school as much, or more than, my kids.
Outside of school, I was a Den Leader for Cub Scout Pack 66, a Last Fling Volunteer, and have coached over 50 youth sports teams for the Park District. I have served on education and scientific advisory boards at Argonne National Laboratory and The University of Chicago.
As a parent of four District 203 students, I have been frustrated by this school year. I am concerned about academic performance and saddened about the social and emotional scars that our children will bear. I am genuinely hopeful that a bright future exists for the District and its students. However, it depends on where we go from here. Everyone wants to do what is best for our students, but there is an impassioned division on what exactly that means. Some will be happy to have everything return back to the way it was. For the rest of us, we want it to be better.
As a District 203 alumni, I wandered the same halls as your children. I ran laps around a retention ditch that doubled as a track and I fought for the same limited spots in the high school parking lot. It's been 30 years and school does not look that much different: same classes, same schedule, same stresses, same successes, same failures. When students finally step foot in their buildings for full-time, in-person schooling we owe it to them to make it better than when they abruptly left.
An opportunity is present now to reshape priorities, reimagine the school day, redefine what excellence in education looks like, and reclaim our District’s leadership role.
I am a teacher who has adapted to the world of remote learning and a scientist who has spent over a decade studying proteins and infectious diseases, but more importantly, I am a father who has dedicated my life to my children. I have an obligation to them, and our community, to raise my voice to ensure that being a student in District 203 is once again an asset and not a liability.
"Academic Triage" - The negative impact of remote learning on the academic achievement and social development of our children is undeniable. The District needs to perform academic triage to rapidly identify the learning loss and provide supplementary educational opportunities and programs to get every student at or above grade level.
"Design for Class Choice: Remote, Hybrid and In-Person" - Every student in Naperville has the right to a world-class education, but no family should have to jeopardize their beliefs or choose between their student's safety and their education. The District should not require any family to take on more risk or have to convince them what is safe and effective for their student's education. A rigorous academic curriculum with proven pedagogy in all educational models, Remote, Hybrid, and In-Person options, should be offered to meet the needs of all students. Social-emotional learning goals should be updated to support each model.
"Sincere Community Engagement and Communication" - This past year, communication to faculty, staff, parents, and students has been inconsistent, confusing, and inauthentic. The District needs to be sincere in thought, action, and communication and engage cooperatively on the issues that are impacting our community.
"Define Digital Citizenry Standards For Students, Faculty and Curriculum" - The reliance on technology to deliver curriculum provides an unlimited pool of resources. However, it has led to a fragmented, unrestricted use of materials that are not suitable for all audiences. The District needs "real-world" digital citizenry standards for faculty, staff, and students. Students should not be assigned online resources that violate child protection laws, contain advertisements, or are not age-appropriate. Resources need accessibility features for learners of all abilities. This initiative should encourage District 203 teachers to create and collaborate to establish best practices for each grade.
While full-time, in-person instruction is the goal for some families, at this time, it is not the goal for all. This is why I believe that District needs to provide equitable options for Remote, Hybrid, and In-Person instruction. A population of students exists for whom these different learning models are best suited, no matter what the reason.
For families who want full-time, in-person instruction, safety should be the top priority. Fortunately, we have a blueprint for this, not only from the CDC  but also from schools in our own City and County. District 203 does not need to invent how to safely return, they simply need to follow the leadership of those who have.
Taking a cue from the Habits of Mind, the District should take an objective look at this past school year. A community lead retrospective analysis should be conducted to provide insights on the administrative, academic and social outcomes of "Return to Learn”.
This past year has shown us that a “school day” is more flexible than we thought. When students go back, is it possible to design a more enriching school experience? What about a weeklong Thanksgiving Break? Keep asynchronous Mondays in High School? A longer lunch in Elementary School? Provide opportunities for more social interactions in Junior High? After this year, there is increased awareness of what the experience of going to school provides (and it’s not just learning).
No matter the issue, academics, equity, social-emotional well-being, diversity, we always hear the phrase, "but we can do better". Will there ever be a time to make good on those listless promises? Will there ever be a better time to enact change? The opportunity is present now to reshape priorities, reimagine the school day, redefine what excellence in education looks like, and reclaim our District's leadership role. Just getting back to normal may be enough for some, but I expect more from the District.
According to the 2020 Illinois Report Card, 92% of District 203’s revenue comes from local and federal funding sources . The State of Illinois only contributes 8%. We should be concerned about any potential loss of State revenue for the District and should be addressed with careful planning and fiscal responsibility. With the possibility of additional funds being allocated for reopening schools by the Federal Government, the impact of any statewide reductions may be offset in the near term.
Last year, the State of Illinois contributed only $23 million to District 203. It would be prudent to reconsider the District’s return of a $10 million surplus to taxpayers, representing almost half of the State’s contribution. While there is no lack of suggestions on how that surplus money could have been used to improve the District, one would have been to use it as a safeguard against future State funding reductions.
a) Maplebrook, Lincoln, and Naperville Central
b)Father of two, one at Lincoln and one at Maplebrook. Husband to Christina. A wonderful compassionate woman who has a private practice in counseling where she deals with PTSD and Children’s Anxiety disorders. We are four year residents of Naperville. I have a triple majors Bachelors degree from Lewis University in Romeoville Illinois and a Masters Degree from The University of Notre Dame. I am currently the Chief Operations Officer for the International Bank of Chicago. Previous to my current role I was the BSA / AML officer. In this role, I worked with state and federal agencies to prevent terrorists, drug, human, weapons, and sex traffickers from using the financial system. I have spent my career developing operations in various functions to meet scalability, regulatory, and personnel needs of organizations.
c) I am a WATCH Dog Dad, current President of the MB2 Pool Board, current Treasurer of the Boy Scout Troop 133, Cub Master, Boy Scouts of America, August 2015 – May 2019, and Popcorn Kernel for Cub Scout Pack 513 2017 - 2019.
When I moved here, almost 4 years ago, one of the main factors for us moving to Naperville was to have access to District 203. In spending weeks watching each board meeting with bated breath, It occurred to me that this District was not using the resources it could be to solve these problems. There was potential being untapped. I was watching the impact on teachers and students and learning about how the board gave up their representation of the people and became very frustrated. So here I am, running for School Board in District 203 because I couldn’t just sit by and complain about it. That gets nothing accomplished. I believe we have the potential to solve these problems and it’s just not being used.
1. Adhere to CDC/ISBE guidelines to lead the way to develop school strategy plans for full time attendance for those that choose. Students and teachers need to be safe in our schools. We need to ensure that the use of PPE, cleaning and COVID screenings, among other strategies, are used to the fullest extent for both students and teachers to be safe in schools. In addition, allowing remote participating students and teachers the flexibility to stay home and not be penalized for it.
2. Work toward equity for all student to receive the best possible school experience whether at home or in school. Our children deserve to succeed! There needs to be a priority for students in special programs such as gifted classes, special education services, or ELL to be able to have access to what they need to be successful. Students at home deserve to have the same quality and attention that those in the classroom experience. Those that are physically in school need to be safe but also receive a solid education. We need to give teachers the tools they need to help them feel empowered in their classrooms.
3. Explore deficiencies in infrastructure that have come to light as a significant limitation to in-person learning. Of course buildings are not set up for a pandemic. However, there are limitations in many schools that have contributed to the problems of allowing students to attend in-person. Schools without doors on classrooms, shortcomings in ventilation systems and buildings too small to accommodate the growing populations are the result of the school district not prioritizing infrastructure projects.
4. Bring transparency and accountability to the District 203 School Board. I believe that as an elected School Board Member, my job is to represent the residents of Naperville and be their voice. I would use my background in strategy and organizational efficiency to work toward achieving the goals of District 203.
We must monitor and utilize the CDC/ISBE guidelines to develop a strategy to get those kids that need to be in school back into the building. Testing must continue as well as tracing programs to allow more movement by the students. As we end this year and after the latest Board Meeting it appears as though there is no plan for us to be in five days a week. So we must utilize the summer spend time with our teachers and develop a strategy together to ensure a successful transition day one in the fall.
The ability to go remote instead of using snow days is a great advantage to the District.
I would start with not returning the ten million dollars and utilized those funds to understand the deficiencies in our buildings. Other than that, i would need to dig deeper into the impacts that those funds would have on the District. We would then need to have real open honest discussion with the teachers t see what their ideas are to come to the best solution to have the greatest impact.
I live in the River Woods, Madison, Naperville Central area. I have a Masters degree in Social Work, and have been a Clinician, as well as Administrator and Executive, for over 20 years. I’ve been an active volunteer with District 203 for a number of years in different capacities. As a presenter, I’ve presented numerous times (no fee) to Home and Schools throughout the district. I’ve served on various committees within the district, including the SEL and Community Business Partnership committees. I have spoken at the Health Fair for students, as well as volunteered as a mentor in the INCubator EDU class.
I always thought I would eventually run for school board, but after watching how kids have been affected academically, socially, and emotionally, over the past ten months, I decided to run now. I want to make sure that in the fall, schools are open for five days per week, and that there is an advocate for the needs of the kids on the school board.
Returning to school five days per week is the largest issue. Honestly, I don’t believe the Board has been very transparent with what major issues are, especially barriers to achieving that goal. I do believe that issues that will become major are the achievement gap, especially with 10 months of remote learning, and social/emotional needs of kids that have only exacerbated due to lack of social interaction. Anxiety and other issues were an issue pre-pandemic, but they’ve only worsened. I would address these issues by understanding what actually exists as a problem, and then work with appropriate stakeholders to develop an effective response plan.
Many studies have concluded that opening schools with safety measures does not put kids or staff at further risk of illness. I would like to know what the barriers are for teachers and school staff to return to school, and whether these barriers are real or are a perceived risk. After the change in October as to how the state calculated positivity rates (they about doubled in a three week period), I have a hard time believing metrics. If the goal was to ‘flatten the curve’ and our local hospitals are not overwhelmed, I believe the kids should be back in schools. Again, I’d like to know what the barriers would be for staff in returning because that has not been communicated by the current board.
This is challenging to answer as our teachers recently received a 3.3% increase and the Board decided to refund the community its surplus. From that, it looks like the current board does not believe it will affect D203. So, I would need to further explore this issue as I do believe it will have an effect, but the actions of the current board communicate the opposite.
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