Holly Jarovsky: 2021 candidate for Community Unit District 300 board
Newcomer Holly Jarovsky is one of seven candidates vying for three, 4-year seats on the Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 board in the April 6, 2021 election. The other candidates are incumbents Emmanuel Thomas and David Scarpino, and newcomers Christine Birkett, Daniel P. Dale Jr., Kristina M. Paul and Kim Withycombe.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates several questions on some of the most pressing issues facing the district. Kristina Paul did not respond to the questionnaire.
Below are Jarovsky's responses.
In-person early voting begins March 10 only at the Kane County Clerk's Office, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Bldg. B, in Geneva and the Aurora satellite office, 5 E. Downer Place, Suite F. In-person early voting at locations throughout the county begins March 22. Learn more at www.kanecountyclerk.org/Elections.
Town: Lake in the Hills
Occupation: Physical therapist/college instructor, Harper College
Civic involvement: McHenry County 4-H, Field of Dreams Horse Rescue, Campton Hills Equestrian Center
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'm running for the board of education for the first time because I believe I have a unique skill set that can benefit the lives of students and families in our district. As a mother, educator, health care professional, and child of a teacher and a current superintendent I can look at policy and student needs from a unique perspective. It is my goal to serve all families, listen to stakeholders, and provide policy that is clear and benefits learners as individuals.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: I would give the current board of education a "C." The short notice of schedule changes before the start of the school year was very disruptive to families and made it difficult for them to plan for child care and work schedules. Parents were informed that schedule changes would be provided every nine weeks, and notifications would be made on specific dates. The administration and board did not follow their own policy of notifying parents in a timely fashion.
Surveys sent out by the district had substantial public participation and schedule changes that did occur were not options provided on the surveys. All of this has made managing child care and work schedules very difficult, many students fell behind and were not having their individual educational needs met, special education students were not having the direct minutes provided in their IEPs until late in the school year, and the social emotional needs of students were also not being met.
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: The primary role of the school board is to make policy that balances the needs of students, staff, and the district. In the current pandemic the role of the board is to listen to the administration's recommendations, listen to caregiver and student needs, assess the impact on the staff and students and provide the least restrictive educational environment that can align with health guidelines from the state and Centers for Disease Control.
I also think it is vital that families can make the choices that benefit their children. Some children do very well in an online environment, others struggle substantially. Every learner is different, and their needs must be met individually. If we can provide a safe learning environment providing families choice is critical. It is important to actively listen to varying perspectives with polite thoughtfulness, and to specifically listen to those with whom you may disagree. The diverse perspectives within our district help to ensure the needs of all students are met.
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: First, I do not think that adequate is the goal in education. We strive for excellence. We should strive to meet the learning needs of every student. I do not feel that the district met the needs of every student particularly in the beginning of this school year. In an email dated July 30, 2020, Superintendent Fred Heid informed district families that they were moving from in person to remote learning exclusively for the beginning of the year.
This was two weeks before the beginning of the school year. This required families like mine to dramatically change their child care plans, and I know many students that were very upset and started the year very demoralized. Many students had not seen their friends or teachers in months and were in desperate need of social interaction. In the same email we were informed that before Sept. 11 families would know the plan for the second nine weeks.
Rather than inform families of a plan, a survey was sent out instead, and all proposals on the survey were voted down by the Board of Education on Sept. 22. Instead the board modified options that parents had not even been able to review or discuss. This did not allow for adequate parental input at the board meeting and did not view the community as a stakeholder. Many parents spoke up about the needs of their children and how they were not being met. Comments made by several members of the board of education were condescending and made it feel as if parental voices were not being heard and were unwanted.
As a board member, I would treat parents as stakeholders and experts in the needs of their children. I believe it is important to set guidelines that are followed and are based on research and how we can benefit all students, not a select few.
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: I believe following CDC guidelines and using social distancing and masking provides adequate safety for students and staff as they return to school. Many parents have chosen to keep their children home in a remote learning and I am glad that D300 can provide that option. As the vaccine continues to roll out, the goal should be to return students to five days a week in person learning as an option. Many students learn best in that environment and we should support all student needs.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: Most of our neighboring states have continued to have high school athletics without substantial outbreaks. I think by using good health practices that high school sports should be allowed to continue. Not only does it provide a physical outlet for students, but it provides an emotional one as well. As a former high school athlete and the daughter of a high school football coach, I cannot express how valuable high school sports can be in the lives of students.
Many feel that high school sports is the glue that holds them together and the positive relationships that they make with their coaches and teammates help them through hard times. Research has shown that high school sports helps to keep students in school and improves their academic performance. It's not just about winning and losing, it's about the community that is created, and it is vital that we return our students to these communities where they feel support and a sense of accomplishment.