Six candidates are vying for three four-year terms on the Naperville District 203 Board of Education.
Looking to keep their seats are Janet Yang Rohr and Kristine Gericke. Newcomers in the running are patent agent Becky Rudolph, Lewis University professor Joe Kozminski, businesswoman Cecilia Fox, and business attorney Char Lynette Dalton.
The group spoke at the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation’s forum to answer various questions. One of which asked about the current challenges facing the district.
“I want our buildings to be safe so the kids can go in there and they can learn,” said Gericke. “The staff can go in there and they can teach. And any visitors can come in and conduct their business in a safe environment. Everyone is able to do what they’re there to do.”
Along with school safety, many in the group agreed fiscal responsibility is another challenge.
“We’re depending mainly on local funding but we have to pay attention to what’s happening at the state level,” said Kozminski. “So things like the $15 minimum wage will significantly impact the school budgets going forward, and we need to think about how to plan properly for that to come into effect by 2025.”
Social Emotional Learning and closing the achievement gap were also discussed.
“But what I care more about as a parent is ‘are you happy?’ and ‘is this education that you are receiving grooming you to be the best that you can be?’ and without some of those emotional skills that they learn at this age, the academic curriculum is not enough. To be successful you have to have the emotional piece too,” said Dalton.
“But we have absolutely seen an increase in students facing challenges and traumas and those are strongly correlated with achievement gaps,” said Yang Rohr. “Closing those gaps won’t be easy but I think it’s something we’re making progress on and you can see real results from board action.”
While agreeing with most of these sentiments, Fox also felt diversity is an area that needs work.
“The demographics are rapidly changing from where they were even just five, ten years ago,” said Fox. “We need to make sure that we’re not just accepting but celebrating all of the new cultures that are moving into the area. We can learn so much from each other.”
Rudolph noted the use of data is something she sees as a challenge.
“You know there’s ongoing concerns with how much testing we do and how much time we spend on that,” added Rudolph. “I think there’s a concern with making sure we use it, that it’s a value, when we ask the teachers to do this testing that they actually are able to use it and have the time to process that and get something worthwhile from that.”
The candidate forum for School District 204 will be held on February 26 at the Municipal Center.
Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.
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