Katey Baldassano: 2023 Candidate for Barrington District 220 school board


Town: Barrington

Age on Election Day: 48

Occupation: School administrator

Employer: West Chicago District 33

Previous offices held: None


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 am running for school board in District 220 to bring more voices into the conversation. The last several years has left many parents feeling like their voice and feedback has been disregarded and that has only divided our community more. A career educator, I love schools, I love teachers and I love seeing students learn. I am running to ensure that the Barrington School Board can work to serve all students, rather than make decisions based on individual board members' personal agendas.

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

A: Our role is to monitor that the curriculum chosen by the education professionals is ensuring that our students meet state standards and academic goals. Quite simply, if the District staff has chosen a math curriculum that aligns with Illinois math standards and our students are not meeting math standards, then the board should engage around that topic. The curriculum must be evaluated based on the outcomes, not based on the intent. A school board should be reviewing data regularly and asking the superintendent to adjust action plans when needed to ensure the District goals are being met. Additionally, there needs to be transparency regarding curriculum. Parents should know what materials are being used to teach their children and feel free to ask questions, verify and engage with school staff on this topic.

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

A: It is the school board's duty to bring forth concerns and feedback from our community. I am committed to doing this for curriculum issues and other issues as well. I am also committed to having solution focused dialogue with other board members on these topics. It is not the role of a board member to drive their own personal agendas, but to partner with each other and school staff to bring more voices to the conversation. The District has review cycles for curriculum in place and I support these professionals as they use their systems and processes to focus on continuous improvement. With my professional background in early literacy and research on the "Science of Reading", I am particularly looking forward to hearing the professional recommendations from the review process on our reading and writing curriculum.

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 committed to working with fellow Board members and District staff to facilitate conversations that are productive and student focused. The role of Board Members is not to push their own personal agenda or to disregard the feedback of the community. As a school district leader in my professional capacity, my role has been to make decisions that are best for students and their learning and that honor families and our community. As a District 220 Board Member, the community can count on me to do just the same and I will strive to make decisions that do not make any groups feel like they "lost" and instead focus on decisions that reflect finding common ground. In moments of controversy, I am calm, focused and patient to face these difficult issues.

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 certainly learned that students need instruction that meets their needs and without that, they do not meet their goals and targets. While we have guidance from ISBE and health departments, we still need to remain student focused and remember that one size does not fit all. My decision making will be guided by the evidence presented and I will make decisions that ensure every student will have access to appropriate instruction. Personal agendas regarding Covid or any infectious diseases do not have a place as a board determines policy. As with all issues facing the school board, I will work to communicate effectively with other members and collaborate to focus on solutions.

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: My career in education has provided me a great deal of experience working collaboratively with groups. In my role as a school administrator, these last nine years, I work regularly with my staff and District level staff on program policy. My style is collaborative and one that focuses on ensuring all stakeholders are considered. In my interactions with colleagues and families, I am patient, approachable and willing to listen. I believe in holding people accountable and focusing on the expected deliverables and outcomes. As we work to determine policy, I am committed to being strengths based and focusing on driving forward the mission of School District 220.

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

A: With over 20 years of experience in education and three children in the Barrington 220 School District, I am the candidate who can bridge the divide between the District 220 Board of Education and our community. It is critical that we have people in these positions who bear the consequences of their decisions rather than people who do not have students in the school system. In my role as board member, I will work to bring the voices of our families into the discussion and partner with my fellow board members to ensure policies, decisions and initiatives represent our community. My strengths are in systems and I believe that we must evaluate systems, programs and initiatives, on the basis of their outcomes, rather than on intent. Honest, transparent and student focused, I will be a Board Member who will work to ensure Barrington SchoolDistrict 220 focuses on excellence in academics while responsibly stewarding the resources of this community.

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

A: This election is not about one great idea. The District professionals are charged with staying current on best practices, research and the educational needs of our students. I will strive to ensure the District 220 promotes a culture where the focus is always on students and their learning. Strong data analysis, accountability, communication and collaboration will better our District. Representing our community and responsibly stewarding our communities resources will make our district better. Focusing on what unites our diverse community rather than on what divides us will make our district better. As a parent with 3 children in this District, I am committed to making our District one where students thrive, parents are engaged and that makes our whole community better.

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