Eunice B. McConville: 2021 candidate for Lisle Unit District 202 board
Five candidates are squaring off for four, 4-year seats on the Lisle Unit District 202 board in the April 6 election. They are incumbents Eunice B. McConville, Pamela (Pam) Ahlmann and Randee C. Sims, and newcomers Steven Lesniak and Gregory T. Nagler.
They responded to a Daily Herald questionnaire seeking their thoughts on some of the most pressing issues facing the district.
Below are McConville's responses.
In-person early voting with paper ballots begins Feb. 25 at DuPage County Fairgrounds Building 5, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. In-person early voting with touch-screen voting begins March 22 at locations throughout the county. Learn more at www.dupageco.org/earlyvoting/.
Five candidates for four, 4-year terms
Occupation: Controller and human resources, registered CPA, Keats Manufacturing Co.
Education: BS in Accountancy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Civic involvement: Lisle Unit District 202 board (2013 to present); and Lisle Education Foundation (2012 to present)
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A: I have had the privilege to serve our Lisle School District 202 community for nearly eight years as an elected school board member. During my eight years on the board, I have taken every opportunity to be an active and effective contributor to our board's work. For the past six years, I have served as finance committee chairman.
District finances are often complex and recent years have been no exception. During these past few years, our board faced a tax referendum and the planning and construction of a new school building. My accounting education and business experience has brought value to our finance discussions and analysis.
During those same six years, I also took on the role of board secretary. For the past three years, I represented our district as a delegate to the Illinois Association of School Boards. Both of these roles helped to reinforce the importance of our duty to govern and set policy for our district. It truly has been an honor to represent our stakeholders, and, if reelected, I will remain passionate and committed to meeting and exceeding the needs of our students while staying fiscally responsible.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: We are passing, and more importantly, we evaluate and adapt our learning models on an ongoing basis. From the start, our district's goal was to return to in-person learning. We learned that our school community needed to develop both a plan for in-person learning as well as have a solid method of delivering instruction remotely all while following CDC guidelines to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.
It has been an unimaginable year. Yet, we remain focused on our students' learning, engagement, and safety. If I have one take-away from this pandemic year, it is to be skilled in adjusting.
Q: How do you view your role in confronting the pandemic: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?
A: None of these views are mutually exclusive. To be an effective school board member, you need to commit to giving a voice to your constituents and consider the community at large.
As part of our school board member oath, we agree to take on the responsibility to lead our local school district and abide by the laws set by the state of Illinois, and in this instance, we must rely on Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois State Board of Education, and CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of our school community.
I am further committed to ensuring that I continue to represent Lisle 202 constituents and will do my best to listen openly to concerns that are shared directly with me as well as with the board as a whole. It is important to consider all of these perspectives to make sound decisions for the direction of our district.
Q: Did your district continue to adequately serve students during the disruptions caused by the pandemic? If so, please cite an example of how it successfully adjusted to continue providing services. If not, please cite a specific example of what could have been done better.
A: Yes, our district has been able to adequately provide for the educational needs of our student population. But I do agree in-person learning is best and the goal. Understandably, there are many varying opinions on who, when, where, and how students should be learning.
Plans were formulated, evaluated, and adjusted as we piloted plans and learned from them. From the start of this school year, Lisle 202 has worked hard to make sure any plan included both teacher and student accountability in the learning process. Our district leadership has done well with identifying the needs of students and families and providing them additional opportunities for in-person learning. Our district supported our families by waiving school registration and parking fees as well as providing grab and go healthy meals for all students. What our district and board heard was our communication out to our community needs to be better. We are listening and monitoring progress in that area.
Q: Do you have a plan on how to safely and effectively conduct classes in the spring? What have you learned from the fall semester that you would change in the spring?
A: The board will need to ensure adequate resources are available to equip our schools with professional development and resources that support academic growth and social emotional needs under various models such as in-person, hybrid, concurrent, and remote learning. What we have already learned from the fall is to increase communication and keep scheduling as consistent as possible for our students and families.
In order to keep our sights on fully returning to in-person learning, it is necessary for everyone to practice CDC recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout our community.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: I am a proponent of allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic when Illinois High School Association and Department of Public Health guidelines are met. Athletics is a vital component in the development of our students, particularly in the areas of fitness, leadership, camaraderie, and in some instances, a financial (aka scholarship) opportunity. Often opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities can be a real incentive for students to do well in their academics.