Jovany Zuniga: 2021 candidate for West Chicago High School District 94 School Board
Six candidates are running for four seats on the West Chicago High School District 94 School Board in the April 6, 2021, election.
City: West Chicago
Occupation: Teacher, Leman Middle School District 33 West Chicago
Civic Involvement: I currently teach a leadership class. In this class service and giving back to the community is huge. With COVID this year it has been hard to help around the community, but my students have gotten creative. My students and I are organizing a canned food drive for our local pantries. Likewise one of my other classes is setting up care packages for our community members. Finally, we are also working on setting up some fundraisers. The proceedings will go to Feed My Starving Children and Team Trees.
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 a lifelong West Chicago resident who went through the complete West Chicago school system (preschool to D94). I currently am an educator at District 33. I am a firm believer in education and the various opportunities it can bring to everyone. The reason I am running for office is to bring my perspective/experiences as a former West Chicago student and current educator to work together with the other board members. All this in an effort to serve our community. Particularly I would like to increase the opportunities for nontraditional career paths to help all students succeed.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: I think the current school board did a great job on its response to the pandemic. Overall it seems like they understand the health and safety reasons for e-learning and the 1/3 model. With that being said, they also understand the challenge of having effective learning for all students in an online environment or shorter school periods.
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: I would defer to state authorities while keeping in mind the safety of students and staff.
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 I think D94 continues to adequately serve students during the disruptions caused by the pandemic. D94 has had various schedule changes to best serve students and staff throughout this school year. Currently with their in person 1/3 model, it allows students daily independent work time in the morning and teachers time to meet and plan for a hybrid teaching schedule. Likewise, the decision to go all remote a couple of months ago for the overall safety of students and staff shows the districts adaptability to serve students.
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: Currently I am a fan of the vaccination clinic that D94 will be having. My plan is to give staff the optional opportunity to receive both dozes of their vaccines. When staff are given the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, start moving into the 50% model. Remote learning should still be an option for parents that do not feel comfortable sending their student to school. Continue to have mask and socially distanced policies in place. As the vaccine becomes available to the complete school community, and COVID cases continue to fall plans can be modified. This school year has been a very challenging one for students and educators alike, thus I would incorporate more Social Emotion Learning (SEL) activities across the school day for the spring
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: I am huge sports fan. I played soccer all throughout high school, played soccer all throughout my undergrad, and coached soccer as a graduate assistant for my Master's degree. Yet, during a pandemic health and safety are my concern. My position depends on the sport that is being played. I would follow the Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines on the level of risk the sport falls under. High risk sports would get paused. Moderate risk sports would be determined based on the COVID cases in the community. Face coverings would be required for a moderate sport if it is played. Lower risk sports I would be OK with. Face coverings and social distance would be required in lower risk sports.