Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Forest Park Review sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.

What brought about your interest in running for District 91 School Board?

I have always wanted to get involved in the Forest Park community in some way. I come from a small town where community members were heavily involved in supporting the schools, volunteering for various local organizations, and used their own individual talents and time to support the community. I believe Forest Park has that same small town charm, and there is a need for community members to support the community in a similar way.

My specific interest in District 91 School Board boils down to my belief that education is the most important tool we have to create productive future citizens and ensure the best community to raise families. I work in child protection proceedings and have experience in working with children at all levels of academic success and children who have a need for academic support. I felt this was best way to become involved in a community I have come to appreciate.

How long have you lived in Forest Park?

I have lived in Forest Park since 2010. I recently decided to make Forest Park my permanent home by purchasing a
home in September.

My former employment was in Galesburg, Illinois. I worked at a private law firm doing general practice. An opportunity to follow my passion to use my profession to support the most vulnerable children in Cook County became available and I have worked in the child welfare field since 2009.

What is your relationship to Village Council commissioner Tom Mannix?

Tom and I went Illinois Wesleyan together and have been good friends for over 14 years.

Do you have children in the D 91 system? How many and what ages?

I have no children. However, I view Forest Park as a place I would like to one day raise my children. I work with children on a daily basis and I know the importance of an efficient and quality school system. A quality education changes a child’s life, improves a community, and will continue to make Forest Park a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

Did you yourself attend D 91 schools?

I did not.

What do you see as the three top challenges to the district?

In light of recent events, I feel it is imperative that we review each school’s security procedure and actively engage the Forest Park Police Department, parents, and teachers as part of this discussion.

I believe in the notion that community involvement is paramount to supporting the children in our Village. We have a great Village, and I think we have a challenge where 50% of our residents are renters. We need to engage residents from all spectrums to help advance our children’s educational opportunities.

Further, there needs to be a system of checks and balances. I believe the school board’s responsibility is to ensure that administrators continue to make decisions that support Forest Park students’ educational environment. It is always healthy to make sure the school administration is thinking creatively and supporting each student’s individual needs.

Additionally, I believe there should be transparency in how school funds are being spent. We should be looking at different ways to inform the community about these issues. It may be helpful to broadcast school board meetings on Comcast, as the Village does. We should also utilize a webcast system similar to the Village’s to provide easier access to this information.

How would you rate the current school board?

I feel it would be a bit disingenuous of me to come in and say the board did certain things great and other things poorly.

I know that my representation for the community would take into consideration the children’s best interests, the needs of students, families, and school personnel, and looking at ways to improve the current education experience
for children so that we are sending students off to high school prepared for academic success.

How many school board meetings have you attended in the past year?

Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to attend a board meeting. It is something I look forward to doing as well as meeting with Dr. Cavallo.

Are you a member of any other District 91 organizations (PTO, Advisory council, etc.?)

I am not a member but I look forward to meeting the members of these groups and hearing what they see as strengths and where they feel are areas that we can improve on.

What do you think should be the top three priorities of the D 91 School Board?

It is important that our children are in a safe learning environment. Also, every student, from the academically
successful to those who require additional support, deserves the the district’s attention and resources. Another top priority should be making sure we have the best personnel working in the schools to support our children’s education.

Along those lines, we also need to make sure that teachers have adequate resources to provide a quality education.

Further, we should examine expenditures our schools make to ensure we are spending money in a responsible manner, spending only what the students need, and returning any surplus to community needs.

Finally, we need to provide assistance to help our school administrator create a 21st century learning environment that allows our children to excel once they graduate high school or college.