Elizabeth Sotiropoulos

Elizabeth Sotiropoulos

Questions & Answers

For the April 2019 Election

What is the importance of the Unit #4 School Board to residents of Champaign?

School board members are the final authority on everything related to our public schools. The school board develops a vision for all Unit 4 schools to follow, and it makes hiring decisions for top administrators, who are responsible for executing a plan that aligns with the vision of the school board. In short, the school board employs the administration, the administration hires teachers, and teachers teach children. A strong school board oversees the decisions of the administration, which ultimately makes or breaks the quality of the education that every child in our district receives. In addition to making decisions about how the district will educate children, the school board is also responsible for all of the district's revenue and spending, decisions regarding renovating and building school facilities, decisions regarding student discipline, and many other legislative items. An excellent school board works with other local government bodies, like the Champaign City Council.

Champaign residents of all family situations, all neighborhoods, and all income levels are impacted by the decisions of our school board. If you have a child in Unit 4, you should vote for school board candidates that you think will make the best decisions for your child's education. If you don't have children in Unit 4, your vote is just as critical - K-12 students who have access to a great education, social services, and afterschool activities provided by the district are more likely to stay out of trouble, contribute to our community in a meaningful way, and become our community's future workforce, parents, and decision-makers. All taxpayers should care about the decisions the school board will make that could impact their tax rates and how their tax dollars are spent. All homeowners should make an informed vote for Unit 4 school board candidates because strong school districts increase property values - young families want to move to areas that have excellent public schools. Businesses and public schools can have excellent relationships that benefit each other, so business and economic leaders should be motivated to vote for Unit 4 school board candidates that will make our public schools better for our students, teachers, and entire community.

Why are you qualified to be on the School Board?

I attended Carrie Busey, Franklin, and Centennial as a young student. I graduated with distinction from the University of Illinois with a degree in Molecular & Cellular Biology. I own a business that serves hundreds of Unit 4 middle and high schoolers each year, and I personally teach high school math and science in a one-on-one setting. I have 9 years of one-on-one teaching experience, along with my volunteering and leadership experiences with local organizations that serve families experiencing poverty and violence. I've also worked with many students and parents who have IEP's and 504 accommodations. This means I've had the opportunity to form relationships with thousands of Unit 4 students, parents, and teachers with a very diverse set of needs, so I bring a perspective to the school board that's been impacted by the experiences of many people in Champaign.

I also have two children who are in Unit 4. My daughter is a 1st grader at Bottenfield, and my son is a preschooler at CECC. My son was diagnosed with verbal apraxia, so we have learned first-hand what it is like to have a child with an IEP and who needs additional support to learn successfully in school.

If elected, what is something you want to accomplish on the School Board, and how long will it take?

If I am elected to Unit 4 school board, I want to close the achievement gap that exists between our most successful students and students who face barriers to academic success, such as racism, poverty, and disability. Unit 4 has many initiatives to address these problems, but most of our students are still not meeting their educational goals. Students of color and students experiencing poverty are very disproportionately impacted by this inequity in education. I first want to understand the initiatives already in place, what progress has already been made, and how these initiatives are still failing our students. I also want to do everything in my power to reduce classroom sizes in the lower grade levels, as our classroom sizes are substantially larger than the state average and the teacher-recommended classroom sizes. Creating a healthier, more supportive working environment for our teachers that emphasizes strong communication with the school board is also a priority of mine. These actions will close the achievement gap in our district, and though it will certainly take years for all students to benefit, we will see immediate results by providing adequate trauma-informed training for district faculty, reducing classroom size, improving communication, and establishing policies that prioritize the health, safety, and academic success of our students.

Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter?

Across the United States, school board members are the largest number of elected officials. We all know that high-quality public education is powerful and important, but many voters don't understand just how relevant school board decisions are to their everyday lives.

To the undecided voter, I encourage you to consider the qualifications of all Unit 4 school board candidates. You should vote for the top 4 candidates who are committed to meaningful action to improve the lives and education of our local students. You should vote for the top 4 candidates who prioritize our students, which includes supporting our teachers and negotiating contracts in good faith. No political candidate is perfect, and you won't agree with any candidate on every single issue. But you should vote for the candidates who have a track record of forming relationships with people of many backgrounds and needs in our community, and vote for candidates who aren't afraid to speak out when they see injustice. If elected to school board, I will represent the needs of our students with honesty, transparency, and fairness.

Submit a link to more candidate info.