Peter Etienne: 2021 candidate for Lake Zurich Community Unit District 95 school board
City: Lake Zurich
Occupation: Attorney at Stepan Company
Civic involvement: None listed
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 believe my diverse professional and cultural experience positions me well to contribute to the District 95 school board in a positive and unique way. I have lived in Lake Zurich for over 25 years and our three children have all attended district schools, including the last one who is currently attending a district school. My short experience as a former public school teacher and more than a decade on a university board gave me some insights into the challenges that come with working in and running an educational institution. My experience as an attorney in Chicago and subsequently with large companies in northern Illinois focusing on environmental, health, safety, ethics and compliance matters can be of value to the school board. I hope to build upon my experience as a 2020 addition to the District 95 board to further the strategic plan of the district. I would like to see increased use of technological tools including in the areas of media production (video and audio), more focus on environmental sustainability, and a more diverse faculty and administration to better prepare students entering changing workplaces and communities.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: I believe the District 95 school board has done well by providing students and parents choice in having students attend school remotely or through the in-person hybrid model as they may select. It has not been easy and no model will please everyone 100% of the time. But the district tried its best to listen to the various stakeholders and to utilize the health data effectively. After looking at the resources available, including space and staffing and the guidance from federal, state and county agencies, I believe the district handled the situation well under the circumstances.
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: My role as a school board is to give voice to all the District 95 constituents and stakeholders, even ones with whom I disagree, and to comply with the law while doing so.
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 95 served students by providing instruction and an overall learning environment under testing circumstances. Examples of ways district personnel provided services in unique ways, particularly in the early weeks of the pandemic, include making free meals available to qualified students in need even when almost all students were in a remote environment; making district offices available for certain students needing a place for school during the day when classes were closed, and setting up various parent groups to advise the administration on key pandemic-related decisions.
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: Since the Spring semester has started, the district continued to provide choice to students and parents. They can choose remote or the appropriate in-person hybrid model.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: High school sports can be allowed consistent with state and county pandemic guidelines as well as IHSA guidelines. So where health safeguards are possible to be followed and the students have proved that the guidelines are indeed being followed, I believe these sports should be allowed. For example, gymnastics, dance, swimming and diving may be allowed where health guidelines are followed.