Stephen Mack: 2021 candidate for Community Consolidated School District 46 board
Five candidates are competing for four 4-year terms
Occupation: Teacher of French
Civic involvement: School Board VP, 2017-present; Library Foundation Board, 2016-2021; President-elect of Joubert Syndrome Foundation
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 reelection to continue to advocate for strong, equal, and accessible public education. My passion is deeply linked to my role as an educator and I bring that experience to my service on the board.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: We have been in this together as a community since the pandemic began. I am confident that our decisions have been good during a time of a public health crisis, but I also know that we need to strongly move forward to ensure our children return to school, safely, and receive the support they need to repair any challenges and strengthen their successes.
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: It is clear to me that this pandemic has provided a very broad experience for me as a Board member. I approach my leadership as an advocate for those who need a voice, for the community at large and not just one group, and as someone who is willing to make decisions that might be popular one day, and unpopular another. I want to continue to advocate for those voices that are not at the table and make sure we improve our communication with our community.
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: School districts found themselves in an environment where we almost had to pivot every day in response to the changing landscape of a public health emergency in this scale. The teachers, administration, and families of D46 did amazing work to support our children, make them feel safe, and encourage and build their learning during a strange time. One of our successes during the earlier stages of the pandemic was being able to create our D46 Safe Centers for families who absolutely could not conduct remote learning from home. This was an incredible resource to help those families.
I recognize also the challenges faced by remote learning as I am a teacher and a father doing both of those roles at home, as well. I would like to see us continue to build our resources in technology and delivery systems to support more those families choosing to remain remote at this time.
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: Our Administration is working tirelessly to plan for spring and fall, and I am a strong advocate of us moving toward a full return to school, safely. We have learned how to do that. We know that safety mitigation strategies work well, and we know how we can support staff and families that have needs that might require remote learning. Together with that knowledge we can effectively plan our return to school and support those who might need other options.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: I do not serve on the high school board, and so am not familiar enough with this issue to comment.