Morgan Banasiak: 2021 candidate for West Chicago District 33 School Board
Five candidates are running for four seats on the West Chicago District 33 School Board in the April 6, 2021, election.
City: West Chicago
Civic Involvement: District President (National Officer) for Zeta Tau Alpha (2001-2007) working with alumnae in Illinois to set up chapters and fundraise; Girl Scout leader (2014-2019); Homeowners Association Secretary (2003-2008)
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: I am running for the West Chicago School Board because I believe all students deserve a quality education that teaches not only academics but creativity, teamwork, critical thinking, and communication.
I believe our district should:
• Provide a differential education to meet the needs of all students.
• Continue to focus on the fiscal health and invest in our infrastructure.
• Engage parents and ensure their voices are heard.
• Support our educators and ensure they continue to learn.
• Address transitions between schools so we can have better prepared students.
• Embrace our diversity and ensure students learn from one another.
• Collaborate with other community groups to ensure students are applying skills outside of the classroom.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: I believe the initial reaction in the spring was warranted as there were so many unknown factors. But, I think it's important for the students to go back to school and the rollout of Hybrid learning has been slow. Some children do not do well in this environment and it can be a lost year for them both academically as well as socially.
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: I think there needs to be a balance between state authority, local judgment and parent choice. If particular children are not doing well the parents should have an option to send them to school more regularly.
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: Considering a year ago the district did not have e-learning set up to use it has come a long way. The middle school curriculum appears to be adequate and keeps most children engaged during the day as the student has to check in for each period. The elementary curriculum continues to need work. Those students spend more time offline throughout the day then online, which does not provide enough engagement for the student. Younger students need more engagement with their teachers to learn and enjoy school.
I have concerns with how children will be placed next year in classes, especially children moving from elementary to middle school. In the past test scores have been one factor used to determine placement in classes but that is not the case for this year. Another factor used has been teacher recommendation but this can be difficult as well if a child is not a good e-learner and has had difficulties with this kind of learning.
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: What have you learned from the fall semester that you would change in the spring? A lot is dependent on the state recommendations but my preference would be to get the students back to school as quickly and safely as possible. The district should continue to bring more students back to school as the year progresses and continue with the precautions currently in place such as 6 feet separation, desk barriers, hand sanitizer, etc.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: Did not answer