Gregory T. Nagler: 2021 candidate for Lisle Unit District 202 board
Five candidates are squaring off for four, 4-year seats on the Lisle Unit District 202 board in the April 6 election. Newcomers Gregory T. Nagler and Steven Lesniak are vying for the seats against incumbents Pamela (Pam) Ahlmann, Eunice B. McConville, and Randee C. Sims.
They responded to a Daily Herald questionnaire seeking their thoughts on some of the most pressing issues facing the district.
Below are Nagler's responses.
In-person early voting with paper ballots begins Feb. 25 at DuPage County Fairgrounds Building 5, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. In-person early voting with touch-screen voting begins March 22 at locations throughout the county. Learn more at www.dupageco.org/earlyvoting/.
Five candidates for four, 4-year terms
Occupation: Self-employed freelance writer/editor
Education: Bachelor of Science, History at NIU
Civic involvement: Vice president, Lisle Band Parents Organization; and volunteering
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: This is my first run for office. Our community has faced a number of challenges, outside of COVID, including an attempt to defund our school district two years ago with a referendum on the ballot. I worked to fight that with other committed Lisle citizens and I remain committed to protecting and nurturing our schools. I am a strong believer in public services such as libraries and park districts, but excellent schools are the cornerstone of a community.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: Every school district in this country has been left to manage pandemic response on its own, so I have a lot of empathy for their struggle to do the right thing. Overall, I feel that the board and the superintendent have come a long way from the chaotic response most schools put forth last year and they have learned a lot.
In regards to process and procedure, things are going well. My concern is that the push to reopen schools will cause a backslide in the effort to fight the spread of this disease. Therefore, I hope to be a voice of caution and following a strong, science-based approach. Currently, I would grade them at a B+.
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 primary concern is in assuring that students, teachers, and staff are safe and that School District 202 is doing its part to fight the pandemic. The district has already formed partnerships to get teachers and staff vaccinated, which will a big step forward in the effort to reduce virus transmission. I intend to push for the best, science-based approach to further keep our children safe while still educating them.
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 was not prepared, as most schools were not, at the onset of this pandemic. Largely, this was due to inexperience teaching remotely. The teachers have made great strides in learning how to cope with the challenges of e-learning, especially since we have a hybrid model with some students back in class. The district has learned to utilize our technological tools better, including PowerSchool and our video conferencing platforms. Even as this pandemic subsides, which will take several years, I feel that remote learning will need to be a tool that needs to be maintained and upgraded for the future. This should be something every school considers for disaster preparedness and as a way to serve students who may not be able to be in a traditional classroom.
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: Should the voters of Lisle School District 202 choose me to serve on the board, I would not be sworn in until May. So, my focus has been on how to reopen in the fall, assuming that our country's vaccination efforts and conventional tactics (PPE, social distancing, etc.) would allow for a full return. The Biden administration recently published guidelines for schools to return to full attendance and, overall, I find the plan to be encouraging. However, it does hinge on schools being able to keep students socially distanced at 6 feet. This will be problematic as we lack the physical space to accomplish this. Therefore, I would like to follow federal guidelines to the extent that is possible. If the transmission numbers are good in the summer, I would be open to a full return even if it means we can only maintain a 3-to 5-foot distance with students.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: This does not seem plausible in the near future. Professional sports leagues keep their players and staff isolated during their seasons to prevent transmissions and it is still not foolproof. We do not have the luxury of keeping our athletes away from their families and most sports require players to be in proximity to others. Unless we have an astounding turnaround in this pandemic, I have to assume that high school sports won't return until at least the spring 2022.