Christian Max Rivera: 2021 candidate for West Chicago District 33 School Board
Five candidates are running for four seats on the West Chicago District 33 School Board in the April 6, 2021, election.
City: West Chicago
Occupation: High school teacher, Wheaton Academy
Civic Involvement: Appointed School Board Member for District 33
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 am running again because, as a teacher and a current board member, I am passionate to see students and their families succeed in life. It is my desire for our students to succeed academically, develop strong values, and to be mentally and physically healthy. One of the challenges in our district is that the current data that is collected to measure student achievement compared with other districts within the state does not consider the complexity of demographics, equity, and the size of the different districts that we are compared against. I know that our districts´ administrators have been working in closing the learning gaps, even during this pandemic, for students of diverse socio-economic backgrounds that make up our district. This is so important because the student demographics in other school districts are not necessarily facing the same challenges. As a board member I will continue to look at the data regarding the effectiveness of our dual language programs (both one way and two-way dual programs) in comparison with students who are learning in just English to see how we can continue to close the gap. In addition, I will continue to work to assure they are prepared for high school and beyond.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: I would give them an A because the board has been making the best decision under these uncertain and challenging circumstances always looking to make well-informed decisions considering the guidance from our professionals. The more we learn about the COVID-19, better informed our decision we made and are done in the moment with the available information. What many in our district may not have understood in our decision-making is that we needed to consider how to keep our student from falling farther behind and therefore we needed to choose a model to help the most students (whether remote or in person) to receive the most instructional hours possible. All the while, we needed to consider what was the safest approach for our community. Here is how our board operates, this is reflected in our shared agreements.
1. Make decisions according to what is best for ALL District 33 students.
2. Respect staff and other board members and their opinions.
3. Be willing to see things from the eyes of seven (7) people, not just one (1).
4. Allow everyone to complete their thoughts.
5. Commit to shared leadership.
6. Respect confidentiality.
7. Adhere to our belief in our students' full potential and successful future.
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: My role as a board member it is to make decisions according to what is best for all of District 33. As a Hispanic, I represent the Hispanic population which makes up a large part of our district. I am also married to a Caucasian woman who grew up in this county and is a teacher as well, so I understand the teacher's perspective. Finally, I have my own children in this district, so I understand the parent perspective. I believe my unique role is that I can acknowledge and bring to the board various perspectives and voices that others may not be able to bring. I recently proposed to use the COVID relief money to take away the registration fee for the 2021-2022 school year to help relieve families from more financial burden for the next school year. This proposal was unanimously voted for. Also, after a long discussion on local property taxes, we have approved a property tax abatement of $400,000 to give some relief to local taxpayers. In December there was a debate in the board meeting on resuming classes in person. After a long discussion with mixed feeling about it, we approved it.
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: Our district has never stopped educating, instructing, and serving our student and their families during the pandemic. We started with our Online Learning Academy, all day synchronous learning and gradually we have been transitioning after few attempts earlier to move students in person. In December, the board approved the dates and the plan for return to partial in-person instruction. Right now, we are having groups of students coming two days a week in person and the other days online. By next school year we want all students to attend fully in person. We are witnessing that this plan is working and Kristina Davis, our superintendent, is working on refining a recommended plan for the 2021-2022 school year.
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: I have learned if we follow the guidelines given by the ISBE and DCHD, and the recommendation and these four must be yes to operate in-person.
1. Less than Five COVID-19 infections (laboratory-positive by PCR or antigen testing) occurring within 14 calendar days of each other in individuals in the same Prek-8 classroom.
2. Isolating or Quarantining of staff does not prevent in-person learning at a building or in a
3. Adequate PPE are available for staff.
4. Adequate deep cleaning and sanitizing supplies are in stock.
I am aware of the challenges teachers are facing in giving attention to both in person and remote students at the same time. We truly want to see all students in person as soon as possible so that the instructional time is maximized, and teachers' attention is not divided between 2 groups of students at the same time. This is why we desire to see all our students in person as soon as possible and we are working hard to see this made possible by fall.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: As a soccer coach and a person who values physical and mental health, I would highly recommend restarting or continuing school sports during the pandemic following all recommendation given by DCHD and IHSA on how to do practices and do games safely. I believe that at this point in the pandemic there is enough data that shows there are better treatments and protocol that allows for safely resuming extracurricular activities. With precautions and with the current vaccine coming to our district, we are at a safer pace to be able to keep doing these activities that are important in our school community.