Randee C. Sims: 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. They are incumbents Randee C. Sims, Pamela (Pam) Ahlmann and Eunice B. McConville, and newcomers Steven Lesniak and Gregory T. Nagler.
They responded to a Daily Herald questionnaire seeking their thoughts on some of the most pressing issues facing the district.
Below are Sims' 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 gaming compliance consultant
Education: Associate in Applied Science Degree from Spokane Falls Community College; several accounting, business, and real estate courses at Eastern Washington University, Mission College, and West Valley College. Although I have taken many classes, much of my knowledge in accounting and business comes from over 25 years employed in accounting and six years in gaming compliance.
Civic involvement: Appointed to Lisle Unit District 202 board in August 2019; Lisle First Lego League coach; Cub Scout Pack 108 Cubmaster/committee chair; Boy Scout Troop 108 committee chair; Pine Hill HOA Treasurer
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 this office because I would like to continue to help address social emotional needs and improve academic growth for the students of Lisle 202. This includes expanding support and learning opportunities and improving test scores by providing teachers, staff, and students the resources they need to thrive in the classroom and promote lifelong learning. It also includes getting our students back into school full-time and back into the extracurricular activities they love. I have learned a great deal since I was appointed to the board in August 2019 and I would like to continue to gain knowledge and experience and contribute to the success of the district.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: I would give the current school board an A. We heard the administration's forward thinking plan to reopen the school district safely, provided input, and supported them to carry out that plan. After opening, we solicited feedback frequently so we could remain up-to-date with how our students were performing and adjust as needed. I was impressed with the innovative solutions that came out of this year and welcome more ideas like this from the administration and teachers going forward.
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: Being a school board member requires listening, thoroughly assessing the issues and information presented, and deciding the best course of action for the students and for the community, not only for the present but also for the future. Board work is collaboration, but it also may include respectfully disagreeing with constituents or with other board members or administration. My role is to advocate for the students of Lisle 202 and be a good steward to the community.
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: I feel that our district adequately served the students as best as we could during the pandemic. Some examples of adjustments were:
• Restructured classrooms and common areas to ensure safety and accommodate all students who wished to attend in person.
• Teachers learned new ways to teach remotely and to concurrently educate e-students and in-person students at the same time.
• The district continued to provide meals for students, even when school wasn't in session.
• Teachers reached out to students in unique ways; some read stories to students in their driveways, others had small group sessions via Zoom to provide extra attention or new curriculum as needed.
• The district solicited feedback from students, parents, and teachers after each change that occurred and remained flexible to alter the plan as needed.
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: We have been using hybrid in person learning since October and have closely monitored student progress and health metrics throughout that time. This has allowed us to increase in person class time and more recently students were able to return to sports and extracurricular activities. We will continue to evaluate how these changes affect the overall health of students and staff and will follow metrics recommended by the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois State Board of Education and DuPage County.
Over the course of this year, we have learned that frequent communication between staff, teachers and parents is paramount for our district to successfully navigate the ever changing climate this pandemic has thrown our way.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: I am all for allowing sports to resume, provided we follow safety measures recommended by the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois High School Association mitigation guidance. I feel with the proper safety measures in place we will continue to adapt and safely accommodate in person sports.