Patricia Petrielli: Candidate profile
Name: Patricia Petrielli
City: Elk Grove Village
Office sought: District 59 School Board
Family: I am married. My husband's name is Frank. I have four daughters (Beth-34, Kate-33, Debra-31, Josie-23) all of whom went through the schools in District 59 (Rupley and Grove. I also have two grandchildren--Margot who is two years old and Owen who is six months.
Occupation: I am a retired teacher from District 59, but I am substituting in the district.
Education: I received my Bachelor of Arts with a major in History and a second major in Secondary Education from Northeastern Illinois University. I took graduate courses helping adapt curriculum for special needs students and other classes to help in dealing with students who have behavior issues. I have my masters in Curriculum and Instruction from National-Louis University. After I finished my masters, besides taking classes to expand my knowledge of history, I took classes teaching gifted students and 21st century skills.
Civic involvement: Girl Scouts, Lions Club
Previous elected offices held: I was elected the Vice-Chair of Region 43 of the Illinois Education Association.
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? No
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
I believe our board has lost its connection with teachers, students, and families. They need their voices to be heard. The lack of curriculum is not only affecting the students' ability to move forward successfully, but also the teachers' confidence in their instruction. Currently, teachers are required to create learning experiences that are focused on popular trends. They are being told that it doesn't matter what subject you teach as long as students are learning skills. According to the District's philosophy, if students really want to know about a topic they can google it. The teaching method shifts instruction from the teacher to the student. Student-centered learning aims to create independent learners. The student is responsible for their own education. There is no research that proves this will prepare students to be "successful in life" because there is no comprehensive plan to develop, implement, and evaluate it. For example, when students learn in social studies about leaders and then jump to the Great Depression, there is a serious disconnect. The lessons stand alone leaving students to try to figure out "what is the point?" We are not providing students with the tools that they need to thrive.
How satisfied are you that your school district is adequately preparing students for the next stage in their lives, whether it be from elementary into high school or high school into college or full-time employment? What changes, if any, do you think need to be made?
I believe that the district is experimenting on students, which is resulting in students not being adequately prepared. The districts scores have declined and the stress level on the teachers has dramatically increased. Teachers need to prepare students with the materials that are research-based. A standard, research-based curriculum will prepare students to be competitive in school and wherever their futures may take them. Students have said that they have gone to take the high school placement test without understanding many of the basic writing, mathematical, or scientific skills necessary for an appropriate placement. Being able to write a coherent sentence, read complicated text, and understand budgetary reports are just a few of the reasons a tried and true curriculum needs to return. Other skills students will need have always been incorporated in teachers' lessons. This is not a new revelation. The ability to collaborate with others and give cohesive presentations are only a couple of the skills students have learned in research-based lessons of the past. The scores have been declining ever since the superintendent opted against traditional learning. So the immediate need of the district is to listen to teachers and give them a curriculum that will prepare our students for success.
What budgetary issues will your district have to confront during the next four years and what measures do you support to address them? If you believe cuts are necessary, be specific about programs and expenses that should be considered for reduction or elimination. On the income side, do you support any tax increases? Be specific.
Like all communities in Illinois, District 59 is subject to the risk of a state funding shortfall. Historically, the district has had more than adequate reserves and funds appear to have been spent responsibly. This has changed dramatically over the past several years due to increasing administrative expenditures, other support services, and a new administration building. In fact, fund balances have gone down 27% since 2013. Continued deficits are projected for the future as well and fund balances are expected to fall below the district's own policy of 60% of fund balance to expenditures. We need to invest in our students first and foremost. Taking money from the educational budget to build an administration building that does nothing to further our students' ability to be successful should not have been allowed. The cost for the building kept elevating as time went on with no intervention from the board. So what budgetary issues need to be addressed? Let's start putting the money into our students development and stop frivolous, wasteful spending. We need a budget committee to evaluate and oversee disbursement of funds so that it benefits our students, teachers, and community.
Are you currently employed by or retired from a school district, if so, which one? Is any member of your direct family -- spouse, child or child-in-law -- employed by the school district where you are seeking a school board seat?
I worked in School District 59 for almost 25 years, until the end of the 2018 school year. However, if you count the fact that I have been subbing in the district since the beginning of the year, I guess it doesn't seem like I have retired at all.
As contract talks come up with various school employee groups -- teachers, support staff, etc. -- what posture should the school board take? Do you believe the district should ask for concessions from its employees, expect employee costs to stay about the same as they are now or provide increases in pay or benefits?
If your district had a superintendent or other administrator nearing retirement, would you support a substantial increase in his or her pay to help boost pension benefits? Why or why not?