Steven Lesniak: 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 Steven Lesniak and Gregory T. Nagler 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 Lesniak'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: Educator, Batavia Public School District 101
Education: BA-History Education. Northern Illinois University; and MA-School Counseling, Northeastern Illinois University
Civic involvement: Volunteer for Eyes to the Skies, Lisle Cabaret Night, Citizens for Lisle Kids (group opposed to the 2018 education tax levy); former 9th Precinct Democratic Committeeman
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 first-time candidate running for a position on Lisle school board because I want to give back to the community by working to preserve the quality education that is synonymous with Lisle 202. I am running to ensure all Lisle 202 students have what they need and to help the district be good stewards of the community's resources.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: I would grade the current school board's response to the pandemic a "B." Communication is one factor that brought down the overall grade. Messaging early on was muddled thus making it difficult to navigate. I understand the district may have been trying to solicit community input during the initial phase of remote learning, but the resulting confusion only added more stress to an already stressful situation.
That being said, communication has improved though it seems I receive more emails now than in the past and sometimes it is a challenge to keep up. Considering the circumstances, too much communication is preferable to too little.
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 view my role as developing and executing the most appropriate plan that fits the unique needs of the Lisle community based on the most recent recommendations made by health officials and state authorities. Health recommendations in my view act as a road map to guide decision making, with the understanding that decisions may have to change as conditions change during this unprecedented time.
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: The district did the best they could under the circumstances to adequately serve students. Similar to my response to the communication question, the district had to think on the fly to create systems to address novel issues so execution of their plans was initially uneven but has become more consistent as we have progressed through remote/hybrid learning.
Based on my own children's experience, I think the district successfully pivoted to meet the needs of students. For example, my children are attending under a hybrid model where they are in-school two days a week and remote the other two. Though it is not the ideal situation, the hybrid attendance option has helped to keep my students grounded and engaged in their learning.
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: My plan to safely and effectively conduct classes in the spring is based on recommendations from health professionals such as the CDC. I am in favor of opening schools as soon as it can be done safely. The fluid nature of our current situation makes prognosticating difficult because of how quickly things can change. The fall semester has taught me that schools may want to consider offering more social emotional support to students in the spring.
As COVID fatigue grows, I think students are beginning to feel the impact of being isolated. Looking to address potential social emotional issues may help with the transition back to traditional learning.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: I believe high school sports should be allowed to go forward if conditions permit. For example, currently infection rates are on the decline so the probability of infection from COVID is becoming less likely. If participants follow recommendations of the health officials and take the necessary measures to keep everyone as safe as possible, then sports should be allowed.
If infection numbers increase then I would reassess whether or not it would be prudent to continue sports.
I wish the answer to this question could be cut and dry however, this pandemic has taught me to take a pliable approach to deal with any unforeseen challenges that may arise.