What is the importance of District #116 School Board to your constituents?
My constituents are some of the most engaged and passionate supporters of the Urbana School District I know. My subdistrict comprises a wide range of residents, from U of I professors and staff to U of I students, retirees, young families, and those who have relocated to Urbana from foreign countries. Their concerns cover a broad spectrum, and they actively engage with their public and elected officials on issues that affect the entire community, not just those of residents of subdistrict 4. I listen to all of their concerns and try to address them as honestly and transparently as I can, even when they are unhappy with the school board. Their voices are extremely important in guiding how I vote and how I conduct school district business both here and within the state of Illinois.
Why are you qualified to be on the School Board?
I am a parent of students who have studied at all levels of our school district, and I have a family background in education and labor. Since first joining the board, I have worked extensively to educate myself on as many facets of public education as are available to me: This year I earned my Master Board Member certification through the Illinois State Board of Education and served as a delegate for the Urbana School District in voting for statewide legislative proposals. I try to stay involved in as many district-wide and school-based initiatives as possible, such as regularly volunteering at Leal School, attending racial equity discussions at every school in the district, and working with staff and administration to bring discussions of issues that affect our learning and working environments to public meetings.
If elected, what is something you want to accomplish on the School Board, and how long will it take?
My three areas of focus for the coming year are to complete the selection of a new superintendent, to reach successful contract negotiations with our teachers' union, and complete the necessary work to implement a comprehensive, district-wide disciplinary system grounded in equity and compassion that provides clear methods of addressing negative behavior in a consistent manner.
Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter?
I have worked very hard as a board member for the past four years by listening to parents, teachers, students, and neighbors who task the district to provide the best education for our youth. I am the right candidate for this position because I have established many relationships with stakeholders and built a considerable amount of institutional knowledge over the years about how our district works. I have a very clear understanding of the school board's function in collaborating with the entire community--not just those who agree with me--in order to maintain the district's focus on student success and well-being. Being a school board member is not a popularity contest, nor should board membership serve one person or group's agenda. For that reason I am not afraid to make tough decisions, because everything I do as a board member is grounded in serving all of our children and providing them the best possible chance to become successful adults.