Photo courtesy of Bill Eagan
Introduce yourself. What do you do?
I’m a certified public accountant [and] certified management accountant. I worked in banking, I’ve worked in startups [and] I’m currently [a] Naperville Park District commissioner. I was on the board of Sunrise Rotary and treasurer there for five years. I was the treasurer of my [homeowner’s association] for about five years.
What do you hope is accomplished by the board if you’re elected?
First and foremost is to get kids back into school where they do their best learning [and] providing for choice. I’d like to make sure that we are spending money where we need to, driving out costs without compromising quality. I’d like to work on trying to close [achievement] gaps. We know that the majority of children have fallen behind where they would normally be if we didn’t have COVID.
What are your thoughts on the current district COVID-19 response? What is going well? What would you change?
Into the first 90 days, I [would] give them a solid B plus; [they] pivoted quickly [and] dealt with the unknown. From June forward through today, it’s a failing grade. I do not buy the board’s argument that we have space limitations. Where’s the creativity and the thought process? They didn’t do that. They chose to sit back and take the facts. If we’re afraid of the cooties, why are we not having [elementary school] kids come in for a full day? We’re sending half the kids home, asking our janitorial staff to clean and prep for another set of kids to come in. Seems like a waste and lack of forethought to me.
Are you in support of mandatory COVID testing or a mandatory COVID vaccine requirement from the state for students to learn in-person next fall? (Aside from medical or other exemptions?)
I think everybody should get vaccinated. I don’t know if testing is the right way to go. If that’s what we have to do to get kids back in school, okay, I’m all for it, but it comes down to personal responsibility and making sure that the parents understand that if there’s COVID in the home, they need to stay home. In the private schools, they’re not testing [at] large that I’m aware of. St. Peter and Paul [and] All Saints are all under 1% [COVID incidence rate], to my knowledge.* That means to me that people are doing the right thing.
*Editor’s note: All Saints Catholic Academy and Saint Peter and Paul Catholic School do not publish information on COVID-19 rates publicly on their website. According to Margie Marshall, principal at All Saints, the school’s COVID incidence rate is not below 1%.
If elected, how do you think the board would address issues with teacher fatigue and excess teacher turnover?
I think that’s going to come through a discussion with the teachers. I don’t know of any particular thing that I would wave my magic wand and fix right now. Maybe it’s hiring some additional teachers for a year or two to help focus on those [learning] gaps, so that they have a little bit of a break.
During the Aug. 17 meeting, the current board passed “Resolution affirming the authority of the superintendent to implement Return to Learn plan for 2020-2021 school year.” Any thoughts?
It basically gives [the administration] the power to decide what’s going to happen. [The current board said] ‘we’re gonna keep an eye and we’ll step in if we have to.’ They haven’t stepped in. They shirk their responsibilities around keeping schools open.
How can we as a district address issues regarding racism, bias, diversity, equity and inclusion?
It comes down to education; if you don’t know something, you have a natural fear [of it]. Everybody’s equal. The message that has to come [is] no one group is superior over [another]. I think the world has become too guarded to have some of these conversations, because everybody’s so afraid of being accused of something. We need to learn how to ask questions and ask them in a manner where they aren’t necessarily perceived as being judgmental. That can come through education in the classroom.
On your Facebook page, you said whoever the board appoints to fill Janet Yang-Rohr’s seat is a “patsy.” What do you mean by that and how will you cooperate with that person if elected?
That person is plainly a patsy.* Why [didn’t] Janet [Yang-Rohr resign] to let the electorate pick the person? [The current board] obviously thinks they could pick a better person than the voter. [The person is] going to be part of the echo chamber. The message is clear from everybody that the board is failing in handling COVID, [do] you think they’re gonna pick somebody that can handle it better? If they’re in the seat, we find compromise and something to agree on.
*Editor’s note: this interview was conducted before the appointment of Anthony Casey by the current board on March 1.
One last thing: why should people vote for you?
I think I bring a wealth of experience, not only from my various board positions, but the financial expertise. [A] well-rounded board has people from different areas. You’ve got somebody that’s the finance accounting person, you need the legal legal, you need the salesperson, you need all these different, different things because we bring diversity. There [are] other considerations out there that in my experience, my training and the way my brain works I can bring forward.
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