Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey the Forest Park Review sent out to all D91 board of education candidates running in this year’s elections. Candidates full, unedited responses are printed.
Don’t miss your chance to hear candidates debate the issues.
The Forest Park Review and the Chamber of Commerce will host a D91 school board candidate forum at 6:30 p.m. on March 6 at Forest Park Middle School, 925 Beloit Ave.
Previous elected experience: Current school board member
Previous community experience: Northside PTC (treasurer, president), Park District of Forest Park Foundation (secretary), Citizens Advisory council, Girl Scout leader
Occupation: Accounting Clerk at Puckered Pickle
Education: Some college
1) How would you describe the communication style of Forest Park District 91 schools? What is the district currently doing and what more, if anything, do you believe D91 should be doing to communicate with residents and taxpayers? What should be the board’s role in engaging residents?
District 91 has multiple ways of sharing information. There is the district website, the app, digital backpacks sent home weekly via email, Facebook, twitter and Class Dojo. I do believe that a more streamlined approach is necessary and for it to be consistent at all the the schools. This year the board has starting having Engage cafes – where two school board members pick a place and time and invite anyone from the community to come and speak with them about anything. This is a great way to meet with the community and hear concerns as not everyone is available to come to school board meetings.
2) What role do parents play in D91?
I believe parents play a big role in our district. I’ve said before – as a parent I believe that I am part of a team with the teachers to help my child. I do not expect that I can send just my child to school and not have any work on my part. In my experience I have always had open communication with my children’s teachers – by email and meetings. There are great events put on by the Northside PTC and the South PTO for families to gather and meet one another. Each school hosts an open house at the beginning of the year for parents to come in and meet the teachers and learn a bit about the upcoming year. I think the parents are part of what make our district so wonderful.
3) Can you describe District 91’s relationship to Proviso Township High Schools District 209? What more, if anything, should D91 be doing to align itself to D209?
The superintendents and curriculum directors of all the feeder districts meet regularly to discuss what is going on at each feeder school.
4) D91 students’ standardized (PARCC) test scores have increased slightly over the past few years, but students continue to struggle with math in particular. What is the district currently doing to address this issue and what more, if anything, do you believe D91 should be doing? What do you think about PARCC scores and academic performance at D91?
I will say that I do not believe that PARCC scores or any standardized testing accurately reflects a child’s academic ability. The issue with PARCC is that we find out that students are not meeting standards but the results fail to tell us how. This makes it hard to identify what the problem may be. This year algebra is beginning to be rolled out at the middle school and a math coach was hired. The district is now using an assessment called FastBridge that is given three times a year. These results are immediately available – children who need interventions are identified sooner and are able to get the necessary help they need. I believe this will help improve our test scores.
5) Over the past year, the D91 board has approved several measures to address a racial and economic achievement gap at the schools. How, if at all, would you engage with and continue this work?
The equity work we have begun is some of the most important work we have to do. I am hoping to be re-elected so that I can continue to help and see how things change as everyone in the district – teachers, administrators, bus drivers, custodians – begin their equity work. It has been very eye opening for me and I want to learn more and be able to create the best possible education and environment for each child to learn.
6) Enrollment at D91 was the lowest its been in at least six years at the start of this school year. Are you concerned about this? What is the district currently doing to attract students and what more, if anything, should the district be doing to retain and attract families?
I am disappointed that the enrollment is lower. Unfortunately as of right now we have no way of knowing why families have left our district. I think the best plan is to continue to share information about the things that make us truly unique – small class sizes, 1:1 technology, no enrollment fee, supplies supplied by the district, no field trip fees and of course the great programs we offer. I also believe our equity work will begin to attract more families – we acknowledge there is an issue and that we are committed to fixing it.
7) What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
Along with the equity work we are doing, I believe that social and emotional well being is of the utmost importance. District 91 currently uses the Second Step curriculum. I will continue to support any programs that help our kids learn how to be wonderful, caring and compassionate people.