Maria I. Peterson: 2021 candidate for Lincolnshire-Prairie View Dist. 103 school board
Seven candidates are seeking the four Lincolnshire-Prairie View Dist. 103 school board seats in the April 6, 2021 election.
Occupation: Stay-at-home parent
Civic involvement: Vice president of District 103 Parent-Teacher Organization, coach for Girls on the Run at Half Day School
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 have thought about running for the Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District 103 Board of Education for a few years. I chose to run this year because I am concerned that, of the current board members, only 2 have children going to school in the district. I greatly appreciate the wisdom of parents that have had children go through D103, but I also think it is important for parents with kids currently in the district to have representation on the board. I am an active member of the PTO and the Lincolnshire community as a whole. My goal is to serve the community by being a voice for the parents of D103 students.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: I think the current school board did a good job handling a very difficult and complicated situation. They listened to their constituents and the teachers in determining how to handle the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic. They have gracefully dealt with pressure from many sides throughout the pandemic. This is arguably the most attention they have ever had to navigate in their roles as board members.
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 of an elected official is to do all of these things. Early on in the pandemic, it was necessary to have strong leadership to close establishments, including schools, until we knew more about COVID-19. As more information became available, some felt it was imperative to keep the schools closed while others pushed for reopening. Many people rely on the school system to be open in order to go to work. In that situation, it's important to listen to your constituents about their needs. The data revealed that there was a safe way to reopen schools. Safely reopening schools in Illinois required deferring to the rules the state authorities put in place. The school board position is a 4-year term and the responsibilities involved go beyond the pandemic. There will always be times where certain policies are unpopular but necessary. It is important for constituents to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives whether or not I disagree with their stance. District 103 is governed not just by the local district school board but by the Illinois State Board of Education and is obligated to follow the guidelines of the Lake County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Health.
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: District 103 has done a good job in adequately serving the needs of my students. While the remote learning environment is not ideal, I have been impressed with the teachers' ability to learn and then excel at using the various online forums to teach. The pandemic surely threw a wrench into the traditional teaching methods implemented by our teachers. What I have seen is a district administration that has enthusiastically tackled a challenging situation with grace and a focus on the good of the children.
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: Classes in District 103 have already started for the spring semester. The school administration and board of education have done a commendable job of safely returning the in-person students to the classroom safely. In addition, they have continued to provide an effective learning experience for remote learners. I think one important lesson from the fall was the need for a shift in the metrics used to continue in-person learning. Schools have been shown to not be a superspreader environment with the mitigation requirements that have been put in place.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: While I do not currently have a child in high school and the board I am running for governs a district with Early Childhood through 8th grade, I appreciate the concerns that high schoolers and their parents have for continuing high school sports. I think it is important for the high school administration and board to follow the CDC guidelines while attempting to continue/resume high school sports. The physical health and safety of the students and the staff that run the sports programs need to come first.