Randi Gauthier: 2023 candidate for Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 school board
Town: Pingree Grove
Age on Election Day: 39
Occupation: Stay-at-home parent
Previous offices held: PTO president
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
A: I would love to be on the board to strengthen and expand the collaboration between the board and the community. The PAC meetings are a great step, but there still seems to be distrust from some community members.
I hope to help the board and the community to reach agreements to be mutually respectful. I believe that it would help staff morale to not have to worry about being confronted by angry parents.
I think I have some positives to offer and one is that I have 2 (almost 3) children currently enrolled in District 300 schools. I'm involved day in and out. I also worked as a paraprofessional in an elementary school, mainly working with 3- and 4-year-olds who attended the blended program. I was a 1:1 to two incredible kids and I was often moved around to assist in other areas of the school. I became acclimated to a school's rhythm.
I'm honored and excited for the opportunity to serve the board.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: A school board's role in setting and driving curriculum is, at best, limited. I learned at a recent school board meeting (you can see the discussion of curriculum from the Jan. 24 meeting on YouTube) that the State sets our district curriculum, not the board, but that the board has the responsibility, and opportunity to review materials that the administration proposes we use to best teach the curriculum to our kids.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: Lately it seems like there are always hot button issues regarding what is or is not being taught in our schools.
Regardless of the issue, as I mentioned above, a school board's role in setting and driving curriculum is, at best, limited. I am not aware of any particular curriculum issues that would require special attention at this time, but, as a board member, I would certainly clarify any curriculum issues that may or may not arise, with the administration.
Q: How do you view your role in confronting policy or curriculum controversies: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?
A: My role is to listen to all constituents as well as those presenting the information to the board and vote based on what I believe is best for students. They are and always will be my main concern.
Q: Concerns are growing regarding a new resurgence of the pandemic. If another massive outbreak of infectious disease occurs, what have we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that will guide your decision making?
A: If a resurgence of COVID, or a new medical threat arises, then I will always do what is necessary to keep students and staff safe and, if possible, in school. There will be times when the board has to comply with state and local health officials and that is what I will do.
Our district has also worked hard putting our remote learning tools in place. Having the infrastructure to teach remotely is a huge factor in successfully navigating another public health threat.
Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage school district policy? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your school board.
A: Since I am not yet on the board, I do not have a lot of experience working in a group setting to determine policy at the district level. But as PTO president at Wright Elementary, I do have experience working within a group on projects, fundraising and scheduling, much of which I believe I can use in the policy setting.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I believe my experience as a parent of three children; in the classroom as a paraprofessional helping kids and educators navigate their days; my involvement in the community and the district schools as a parent and as well as my support of public education would help make me an effective Board member.
In addition, my soon-to-be 3-year-old is currently in early intervention for speech, sensory needs and behavioral concerns.
I will be working with the district to get her the services and interventions she needs in preschool. I have previous experience navigating IEPs and 504 plans, as I have had two children in the district who benefited from them. I believe I will be well equipped to support all children in our district.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: I would really love to see more paraprofessionals assisting classes with young kids (prek/kindergarten) as well as more play-based learning in kindergarten.