Anne Van Gerven: 2021 candidate for Lincolnshire-Prairie View Dist. 103 school board
Seven candidates are seeking the four Lincolnshire-Prairie View Dist. 103 school board seats in the April 6, 2021, election.
Occupation: Former Associate Partner with Accenture specializing in Information Systems implementations and business process re-engineering
Civic involvement: District 103 School Board, former District 103 PTO President, Volunteer Council President and Executive Board member
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 for reelection to provide consistency and continuity of leadership during the pandemic and as we begin again to work toward our 2025 Vision. When the pandemic hit, we were working on our "Portrait of a Graduate" and our 5 year strategic plan. We put that on hold in March and shifted all our energy and focus into addressing the pandemic. In the coming year, I look forward to restarting the process and to seeing what changes we may have to our portrait, vision and annual goals based on our experiences from this year. I am also running because I feel that it is important to have board members that provide diverse backgrounds and perspectives so we can fully represent all stakeholders. In terms of background, I began my career in project management and then focused my efforts on raising my children. I have lived in Lincolnshire for 18 years. My three children all attended District 103 schools from kindergarten-eighth grade during which time I was an active volunteer in all three schools. For the past 8 years, I have been a member of the school board where we have undergone a number of large initiatives, most notably, additions at all three schools without asking taxpayers for any additional funding. I feel that my experience on the board has proven that I am well equipped to represent parents and taxpayers as I work to ensure that we are always doing what is best for the kids.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: I would give us a B+ on our response to the pandemic. Last spring, like most, we were reactionary. While we were well prepared to transition to e-learning, there were some growing pains as we realized this was not going to be a short term situation. During the summer, we planned extensively for the fall but we were often faced with changing and even conflicting guidance from federal, state and county levels. We learned the importance of being adaptable! During the pandemic, more than any other time, the board's responsibility to represent the community was challenged as the community had such diverse views and opinions. I think the models that we ultimately identified and implemented were a good compromise. We developed solutions that offered families a choice between a strong in-person learning model or an equally strong remote learning model. Even with that time and those plans, we still had missteps. Looking back I wish we had implemented our in-person learning model earlier and that we had done a better job of communicating choices to parents. We learned from our mistakes and I feel that the planning and implementation of our January In-person and Remote learning models reflect that growth.
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 think that a board member's role encompasses all three. At times, we have to provide leadership that is unpopular. An example would be in-person learning in October based on rising COVID cases. We also have to give a voice to constituents -- even if we disagree. Our role is to represent ALL stakeholders and often those views are contrary to our own or are vastly conflicting with others. We have to take those and develop solutions that address as many of our community's needs as possible while never forgetting that we must do what is best for kids. During the pandemic, we found what was best for kids wasn't simple and often depended on unique family needs and concerns. Our board was a good representation of the broader community; some board members have completely social distanced for the last 9 months and others were more willing to be involved in outside activities (safely). While we each had our own thoughts on how to handle the pandemic, we respected the choices that each person made but ultimately we had to set aside these personal views as we made decisions. Last, as a public school, we also must defer to state authorities. Sometimes those were absolutes and other times it is strong guidance that we must consider and evaluate the pros and cons of following. Ultimately, our role included components of leadership, listening and deferring- it was quite a balancing act!
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: District 103 did a good job in serving its students. In March, within a day of the Governor ordering schools closed, we implemented a fully remote learning model quickly adding daily synchronous contact for all students. The district also adapted its traditional summer school offerings to provide online summer school while also conducting in-person extended summer school to at risk students. Over the summer, we purchased new online curriculum to provide consistent content across grade levels under all learning models. This allowed us to be flexible and consistent in educating students that may be remote or in-person. When we had to transition our in-person students between in-person and remote based on the state of the pandemic, this consistent curriculum provided a strong foundation to do that while continuing to educate our students. This fall we completed a COVID-19 Impact Analysis using our assessment data to analyze learning losses that may have occurred in the spring and summer of 2020 due to the pandemic. We identified students and groups of students that had lower than expected growth in the prior year and used this data to make adjustments for those 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: During the fall, we had two learning models for students: In-person consisted of students attending school 5 full days a week (Kindergarten half days); Remote consisted of daily synchronous content. Due to guidance from Lake County, both models were remote for much of the fall with in-person learning only occurring in October. In November, parents were given the option to select a learning model for January. We were as clear as possible on what the options might be as that was a lesson learned from the summer. Based on our experience in the fall and parent feedback, the board and administration focused on maintaining the 5-day In-person and Remote models into the spring in order to provide the most robust and authentic education for students. The board and administration worked together, through creative utilization of our facilities and staff, to make that possible. In January, based on the parent choices, students were reorganized into remote and in-person sections. Remote learners continued with daily synchronous contact. In-person learners attend school 5 full days a week. We are one of the only schools in the area that could accomplish this while adhering to all the CDC and ISBE guidance. In addition, we continued to look for opportunities to prepare for and enhance the safety of our students and staff including implementing improvements to ventilation, podding students, and obtaining CLIA certification so that we could offer on-site COVID testing.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: As a pre K-8 grade district, this question is not applicable to our district.