Anthony Quagliano: 2021 candidate for Huntley District 158 school board
10 candidates are running for four, 4-year seats on the Huntley School District 158 board. Tara Masino did not complete a questionnaire.
Occupation: Certified Public Accountant
Employer: Eric J Fernandez & Co. (Partner)
Civic involvement: 14 years Huntley School District board, current president, former VP several times, chair of Finance Committee all years served on board; 2007 graduate Ted Spella Leadership school; 2011-2012 recipient of award of excellence from Illinois State Board of Education; assisted writing and consulted on several school and tax bills that became law in Illinois, including tax referendum disclosure laws
Q. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. Prior to the Pandemic, I had considered not running again, but then the Pandemic created the most challenging time school districts have ever faced. I felt compelled with my wealth of experience/expertise with the district to seek reelection in order to provide stability along with fact based, well-reasoned decision making for the challenges that lie ahead for our district. In short, I didn't want to abandon the district (and the community) at its neediest time.
Q. How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A. The board has taken a reasonable and measured approach utilizing all information available to evaluate plans presented to us by district administration. We followed the evolving, and sometimes conflicting, guidelines established by CDC, IDPH, and MCDH. The D158 board has consistently advocated for as much in-school learning as was reasonable under the circumstances, and expected remote/hybrid learning to be executed in a manner that provided meaningful education to our students.
Q. How do you view your role in confronting the pandemic: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?
A. The role, regardless of a Pandemic or not, is to make informed decisions based on reliable information in the best interest for all. All includes students, staff, and community. The unique elements of the Pandemic are the changing conditions, and the varying degrees of constraints to address. It has required stable and well thought out plans that didn't overreact to the changing conditions or various public pressures from all sides. We certainly listened to constituents through public comments at board meetings, emails, surveys and other forms of communication and respected those that voiced opinions. We were cognizant of the divide and heightened emotion that existed within our community, so it was important to remove the emotional elements, and focus on the facts in order to make responsible decisions. We strongly encouraged our community to follow the guidelines to enable us to get back to in-person as soon as possible.
Q. Did your district continue to adequately serve students during the disruptions caused by the pandemic? If so, please cite an example of how it successfully adjusted to continue providing services. If not, please cite a specific example of what could have been done better.
A. D158 is an established leader in providing innovative and unique learning opportunities for its students. We were positioned better than any other district to provide meaningful remote learning to our students during the Pandemic. All students were already equipped with Chromebooks prior to the Pandemic, and the district supplied hot spots to any student that needed internet connection. Like any educational setting, it has worked better for some than others, and has been dependent on support received at home. Teachers efforts to make this mode of education work has been incredible and very much appreciated. Of course there were limitations and issues. Remote/hybrid has worked better for the middle school and high school, but not as well for elementary. We will use the experiences (both good and bad) learned from educating in a Pandemic to further develop the delivery of education to our students as we work toward achieving a higher degree of personalized learning for all our students.
Q. Do you have a plan on how to safely and effectively conduct classes in the spring? What have you learned from the fall semester that you would change in the spring?
A. The district has had a plan to safely conduct some level of in-person classes since the summer (as presented at board meetings). Several circumstances occurred that kept the district from starting the school year with hybrid classes, so initial implementation did not occur until October. That was quickly halted by the surge in cases in the county (and State) in October/November. We've been back to hybrid learning since late January due to our ability to meet the 5 mitigation elements that the CDC had provided in December in spite of the county metrics. A big step in this process is getting our staff vaccinated. Through the coordinating efforts of our district administration and staff, almost 875 district staff were given their first dose of the vaccine (along with other area county school staff) at our high school facility. This is a huge step to getting back to more in-person classes, which should occur sometime in March after the second vaccination is received by the staff.
Q. What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A. At the highest level, that is an IHSA decision. What we thought (or what our position was personally) made no difference until the IHSA had determined what could be safely played. Insurance carriers had made it known that if the district's attempted to go forward without IHSA consent or approval, then there would be no coverage. I think it is great that they have allowed certain sports (and hopefully other extra- curricular) to go forward as long as they can be done safely with guidelines followed. However, I am concerned with sports that have athletes in close proximity and are indoors. I've certainly been following closely the start of basketball season and that seems to be going pretty well so far. It would be amazing to see if they are able to play football later this spring.