Advancing technology and expanding opportunities for students is a common goal among the six candidates running for four seats on the Lake Zurich Unit District 95 school board.
In responses to questions from the Daily Herald, candidates cited technology enhancements and providing opportunities for students who aren't college-bound either as issues in their campaigns or as ways the district could change to better prepare students in the K-12 district.
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Candidates for the 4-year seats are incumbents Kathy Brown, Scott McConnell and Lisa Warren, along with political newcomers Eileen Maloney, Russell Cerqua and John Shaw.
Brown, the board president seven of her eight years in office and a teacher in Palatine Township Elementary District 15, lists technology enhancements for teachers and students as a goal. While students are well prepared for college and have ample opportunity for college-level classes, there is more to consider, she said.
"I believe that we need to continue offering a rounded vocational curriculum to our students who may not be college-bound," she said. "The board should continue to monitor vocational offerings and, perhaps, expand those opportunities if there is appropriate student interest."
Cerqua, business manager for Cook Memorial Public Library District, listed technology as his top issue, saying various tools in the classroom can grab the attention of students and motivate them.
"Our teachers need to know how to use these tools and technologies in order to effectively integrate them into the classrooms," said Cerqua.
"So the issue is finding alternative funding sources or freeing up existing resources to purchase the technology and then training our teachers and staff properly."
McConnell, technology director for Allstate, said his top issue is improving "technology penetration" in the classroom, as District 95 has lagged peers in that respect. Individualized learning provides better outcomes for students, he added.
"Realizing these benefits requires widely available modern technology, modifications to the curriculum and additional training for teachers," he said. "The district needs to improve its computer device to student ratio to 1:1 and to continue its advances in how instruction is delivered."
Maloney, vice president at Zurich North America, said her interest in the district facilities would provide a perspective not represented on the board.
The district, she said, needs to be mindful of the evolving needs of all students to ensure that all required courses for college admissions are offered. She said test scores have risen and the district is doing a better job of preparing students for the next level.
"The biggest challenge our district faces in that regard is technology. Our district is facing the same concerns as many other districts as well as much of corporate America," Maloney said. "I do not support a tax increase to enhance our capabilities in that regard. It is, however, a consideration should we have surplus funds."
Shaw, building manager for Metra, said the district should be a stronger advocate for vocational training.
He said District 95 can improve preparation for students who take tech training during high school and should expand communication with middle school students regarding tech training opportunities. That will help less motivated students stay active in academics, he contends.
"I do believe it's the district's responsibility to prepare each student for higher learning after high school, but in my definition of higher learning, I would also include trade and vocational training," he said.
Warren, executive director of a nonprofit, said great strides in technology throughout District 95 have been made in the last two years.
One of her top issues is to "ensure the technology plan includes longer-term strategic goals as well as a short term tactical plan that is reviewed frequently and communicated well to our stakeholders."