Endorsements: Zettler, Fiorentino, Makinde and Gauthier for Dundee District 300 school board

This endorsement is a consensus opinion of the Daily Herald Editorial Board. This version has been updated to correct the number of seats open in the race and add an endorsement for Randi Gauthier.

Eight candidates are running for four seats on the Dundee Community Unit District 300 school board.

Incumbents Nancy Zettler and Steve Fiorentino are being challenged by Olutola "Tola" Makinde, Randi Gauthier, Laurie Parman, Robert Reining, Connie Cain and Kristina Konstanty.

Teacher shortages and retention is a big issue facing District 300. All candidates agree that retaining teachers is a priority.

Makinde would like to see creative strategies that would brings in not only more teachers, but more diverse teachers. Fiorentino says the school board as started to work with a staffing company to help fill a gap with substitutes. Parman says teacher absences are increasing and is part of the problem. Zettler states that the teachers and staff have gone through some difficult years and that there are a lot of emotional issues with students that the teachers are working to help students through. She also believes teachers are leaving due to being burned out from the last three years of the pandemic.

The learning gap after the pandemic is another issue facing the board. Parman says the academic trajectory is going down, not up and that needs to be addressed. She says post COVID that only 25 percent of the students can read and write at grade level. Konstanty would like to see more parents being involved in the classrooms and partnering with teachers to help support the students. Zettler says we need to get the students back on track emotionally before they can perform well academically. Gauthier agrees and also would like to see more inclusion coaches in the schools since students learn better when they feel accepted and included in a safe environment.

District 300 should be proud to have eight candidates who are passionate about the students and teachers.

Incumbents Nancy Zettler and Steve Fiorentino, along with newcomers Olutola "Tola" Makinde and Randi Gauthier stand out in the field, and they get our endorsement.

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