Patricia Petrielli: 2023 candidate for Community Consolidated School District 59 school board

  • Patricia Petrielli

    Patricia Petrielli

Posted3/15/2023 1:00 AM


Town: Elk Grove Village


Age on Election Day: 65

Occupation: I'm retired, but I have substituted in other district. I do plan on continuing to sub.

Previous offices held: I'm finishing my first term as a school board member in District 59.


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'm running for reelection because there is still much to be done to bring this district to a level that is actually beneficial to student growth. Curriculum continues to be a top priority, but it is not the only item that must be addressed. The district was already in dire straits before the pandemic, but we are now dealing with situations that may not have been as significant without it. On top of curriculum, we have staff shortages, which I realize is being felt on a national level, but behavior has also become a serious issue that must be addressed.

Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?

A: I believe that it is our duty to review the curriculum that has been presented to us, hear feedback from the teachers because they are the ones who will be using the resources that are chosen and make sure that it gets into the hands of teachers and students in a timely manner. Then, we should monitor how the curriculum is being accepted, is it user friendly, do the students understand and like the materials or do they feel the information is not being absorbed because they are not engaged? And finally, there should be incremental audits to make sure the materials are up to date and learning is taking place.

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Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?

A: Yes, the time it takes to evaluate new and updated curriculum and get it to the teachers takes entirely too long. I know that when I used to pilot materials we researched several curriculum developers. We then narrowed the materials to two that we would use in class for either a quarter or semester. After that, we would bring our review to the rest of the teachers in our subject area and make the final selection. This took at most one school year before implementation. We are taking far too long to get through the process.

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: I am in this job to be a voice. I speak for the teachers, the students, the families and the community. Whether I agree or not with what concerns they have, it is their right to be heard.

Q: Did you support Superintendent Terri Bresnahan's equity plan that would have paired schools up into grade level centers, redistricted some areas, and repurposed Ridge into a preschool?


A: No, I feel changes must be made, but we need time to make these changes with fidelity. We have rushed through so many changes without giving them the consideration they require. This is not the fault of just this administration, but it seems to be an epidemic. When teachers move into administration sometimes, more often than not, they tend to loose their connection with the classroom. I truly believe that it should be required for administration to get into the classroom periodically to see how it has changed and understand the issues teachers and students face on a daily basis. They need that connection to understand their jobs and how they relate. In regard to Ridge, there are many ways to make it a useful resource to the district without a lot of upheaval. The skills of the teachers in the building would help with one of our newest group coming into the district that does not have the skills to be successful. We do not have to close it down, but add to it.

Q: Did you support Superintendent Terri Bresnahan's equity plan that would have paired schools up into grade level centers, redistricted some areas, and repurposed Ridge into a preschool? Why or why not? And now that the plan has been rejected, how should the district address some of the areas of improvement that were identified during this process?

A: Equity is still a very important concern, however, we cannot address equity if we have so many other issues preventing the district from a clear path. Could there be a better, less disruptive way of improving the problems we are facing? Absolutely, but we have to take the time to explore and listen.

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: I think class sizes have an impact on the spread of Covid, our air filtration upgrades will help prevent the transmission, also making sure everyone understands that if someone is not feeling well, the best thing themselves or their family is to stay home, that goes for any illness. There are resources to keep students up-to-date with classwork, so families should take advantage. Staff should have lessons at the ready in case they are affected. That goes for any illness. Teachers could even record a few lessons as a resource for the substitute covering their class. This could also be accessed by students who might be out sick.

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: Collaboration is key to the success of any organization, especially education. We all have experiences and resources to bring to the table and I believe in sharing the ideas and resources students and teachers will have a richer pool of resources and ideas to help them succeed. We are always learning and researching to bring the best avenues and ideas to help student be successful in all of their future endeavors. They are our future so we have to do the best to prepare them. We also need to model this process to show how this is the most productive step forward.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: I have gone through a challenging first time in office facing several issues unique to a board term. I taught and substituted in the district over the course of 26 years in CCSD 59 schools. I piloted and created curriculum, served on several committees, I have been actively involved with contract negotiations and I was a union representative and region chair.

Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?

A: I talked about it in a previous answer, but it never hurts to repeat it. If the administration would get back into the classroom to actually see how the ideas and materials they propose affect the teachers and students and also see how education has changed with actual boots on the ground, their ideas would have a much greater impact and chance for success.

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