Katie Rausch: 2021 candidate for District 25 school board
Eight candidates are running for four, 4-year terms on the Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 school board.
City: Arlington Heights
Occupation: Stay-at-home mother, part-time substitute teacher for District 25, former elementary teacher, former special education teacher
Employer: School District 25
Civic involvement: PTA, PTA Committees, School Representative for Get Burbed Race (event fundraiser for D25 teacher resources)
Q. Why are you running for this office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. My background is in education. As an elementary and special education teacher, my experiences in the classroom focused on student performance. I implemented Best Practices in teaching and I'm well versed in academic interventions so every child can and will achieve to their greatest potential. Our district, like many others, will see a widening achievement gap for a majority of children. Children have been learning at home and parents are doing the best they can to support but they're not teachers. Families don't have adequate tools and resources to help their kids learn on computers all day. Most families have both parents working full time so it's nearly impossible to meet the challenges that children encounter with technology. It's not sustainable and our children endured months of struggling with remote learning. It's crucial to have a board member who understands how to support our teachers and provide them with the resources they need in the coming months. My knowledge of curriculum and instruction along with the dynamics of a classroom setting will help bridge the connections between school board decisions and implementation in classrooms.
Q. How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A. I would grade the current school board response to the pandemic as satisfactory. I believe our remote program, this school year, is robust. The district made many changes to what was implemented last spring. I know that in person learning is engaging and it's essential that students are provided these experiences in their classrooms. However, the decisions to have staff teach simultaneously with both in person and remote students, has made the school year extremely difficult. The school board needs a concrete plan now for what type of instruction will be provided this fall. They must collaborate with surrounding districts, learn from this year and be ready to excel so we can move forward as a district.
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 role is to contribute to decisions made and goals that are set with the most effective use of school resources. My job is to ask questions when clarification is needed and then respect the staff overseeing operations to achieve such goals. I represent the community as a school board member therefore I will bring concerns expressed by my constituents even if unpopular, listen and respect my colleagues' viewpoints, and collaborate to find solutions. I will keep the community involved through regular on going two-way communication. I have already been proactive as a school board candidate in an effort to communicate with teachers and constituents. I did a virtual teacher talk and do regular question and answer session on my social media platform. I have met with our Assistant to the Superintendent of Student Services to gain knowledge on programs and resources School District 25 offers students with IEP's. I interviewed a local pediatrician and I'm working on more ways to connect with even more community members who have areas of expertise to help us all navigate these difficult times.
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 believe our district has provided some choice to families. Parents are able to do what they feel is best for their children during these unprecedented times. I believe that in person learning could have started sooner based on the CDC recommendations and by watching and learning about the success of our neighboring districts. I am glad our students are able to go in person four days a week and look forward to the day that they can return to full in person.
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. Even though we are in times of constant change, I believe that we need to continue certain levels of mitigation this fall. Children will not be vaccinated, risk will still be out there. We can never promise absolute safety but we can take every precaution possible to reduce risk. We provide choice to families knowing the potential risks and let them decide what is best for their children. If the state requires remote education, I would recommend that remote and in person learning are taught in two completely different settings. If elected I would strongly suggest looking into a remote academy for students who decide on virtual learning. This will ensure that both forms of instruction, whether in school or online, are equally effective for all students.
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 continue to some extent. However, I feel we must implement a variety of safety measures, listen to the guidance of health experts, and keep an eye on local transmission to remain vigilant and adapt as needed.
Q. What other issues need to be addressed?
A. This community needs to heal. This is a key component to building a strong foundation of trust, respect, and collaboration. Administration, teachers and parents need to come together, communicate, and move forward. I know better times are ahead. I'm ready to represent students, my fellow educators, and the rest of the community on the school board.