Elisabeth Betancourt: 2023 candidate for Marquardt Elementary District 15 board
Age on Election Day: 42
Occupation: School social worker
Employer: Franklin Park School District 84
Previous offices held: Marquardt Elementary District board member since 2019
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: Several issues have my interest. One is that our children continue to receive an excellent education through our schools with qualified driven teachers. This involves many aspects from having positive working relationship with teachers and administration to having a system that encourages our teachers to be learners themselves.
I am also interested in bringing our buildings up to standards that are conducive with today's learning. The area of being fiscally responsible interests me as well especially with our current economy. I have been on the policy committee during my previous term and I would like to continue to work on bringing our board policies to current and relevant.
As many people know, we are currently hiring a new superintendent and it is important to me that we find someone that understands the needs of our children and our community. Our district serves 5 communities and it is important to me that we find a way to bridge the gap between village and school district.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: From my understanding, teachers and administration have an opportunity pilot and choose the curriculum. We, as the board, provide the funding. We are informed of the growth and progress toward meeting standards set by the state.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: We were monitoring the state's decision on topic sex education, but other than that there is not anything that I am aware of that needs attention from the school board.
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 believe that there is a way to make most people happy. We can follow the law and give parents the ability to refuse to have their child in that discussion. We can also create an opportunity to allow parents to see what their children are being exposed to like having a mock lesson. As an educator myself, I provide Erin's Law presentations to my school and many times parents have asked for tips to talking to their children about keeping safe from sexual abuse.
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: We have learned that science will help guide us to making the best decision for our community. We have also learned that teaching is an art and we need to let our teachers (not online videos of other teachers) teach our children.
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: In the past 4 years, we have really depended on the policy from the state and our lawyers for guidance. In upcoming years, I am hopeful that we can create some policies that will guide our new leadership. I am committed to setting procedures and policies that work to support and grow our district.
Over the last couple of months, we, as a board, have received training from the Illinois Association of School Boards on how to set policy and procedures and I would like to see how we can grow this training into practice.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I feel that fact that I am an educator and I understand the system makes me very qualified for the job. I have lived in Bloomingdale for most of my life and even attended Winnebago school for 2 years. I have lived in our district for nearly 9 years. I currently have a children that attend Marquardt Middle School and Winnebago. My family is a bicultural family and I work very hard to understand the Latinx culture and community.
I am person who likes to serve their community and does so with integrity. I have made hard decisions even when there are easier solutions. The last four years have had their ups and downs as being part of this school board, but I would be honored to serve the community again.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: Honestly, I would love to complete a cost analysis of the district having its own buses. We spend a lot of money on busing every year and it hasn't always been the most reliable system. I know our administrators have worked hard at making it more reliable, but finding out real answers, if we would save money or not if we owned our own buses, is something I would like to look into.