Elias Palacios: 2023 candidate for St. Charles Unit District 303 board, 4-year term
Town: Campton Hills
Age on Election Day: 62
Occupation: Senior public service administrator
Employer: State of Illinois/DHS
Previous offices held: AFSCME union representative
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 have a few reasons for becoming a school board member. I have two children who attend Community Unit School District 303. One attends an elementary school and the other attends a middle school.
Moreover, I have a passion for helping others and plan to incorporate it to preserve and improve the quality of our school system. Furthermore, I believe in the quality of public education for our current and future students.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: Approving the curriculum, textbooks and educational services as stipulated in the board policy manual.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: Topics included in some classes such as U.S. history and PE which need further assessment.
Communication with parents needs to be a priority when developing/implementing any topics and inform parents about their parental rights, including Students Opt-Out Notices from specific topics/classes deem not suitable for their children.
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: The most significant role of a board member when confronting policy or curriculum controversies is to always represent the students' interests by understanding their issues and helping to come up with solutions.
Also, do not lose sight of the fact that board members represent the entire community (students, parents, school staff, and others who do not have school-age children).
Further, board members will want to present their ideas to the school board and do it within the existing legal framework. Ultimately, the willingness to listen and learn from taxpayers and all students.
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: First, educate parents, children, and all school staff with factual data from CDC, Illinois Public Health, and other reputable institutions such as Harvard Medical School and Mayo Clinic.
Before, there was a lot of misleading information, and there is still some information that lacks factual scientific data and studies with sufficient samples. Communication and education are the essential components to preventing and reducing a significant outbreak of the infectious disease in schools.
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: I had the opportunity to work in a group setting when I was a president of a homeowner association, a member of an executive team of a union, at a Hispanic advisory board for a legislator, and at my current position as a senior public service administrator.
First, I listen, assess the situation, and provide feedback with comments and recommendations to solve the issues. I practice nonviolent communication, which includes the following: Observations, feelings, needs, and requests. This will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions in my school board because this is a nonjudgmental, respectful, and proactive way of working with people.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I believe that helping to plan the education for our children is very important to me as a parent of two children who attend St. Charles school district.
The unprecedented times bring many challenges for all who live and work within the school district, and for the rest of the country. I find satisfaction in helping to overcome those challenges working as a team member.
In addition to meeting the requirement to hold this seat, I can bring many valuable attributes to this position, such as my formal education, work, volunteer and life experience.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: Communicate with parents by informing them about their parental rights, such as opting their child out of participation in activities that are not deemed appropriate for their child. Include limitations and forms available to be completed.