Tina O'Neill: 2021 candidate for Itasca Elementary District 10 school board
Five candidates are vying for four, 4-year terms in the Itasca Elementary District 10 school board in the April 6, 2021, consolidated election. They are incumbents Tina O'Neill, Casey Amayun and Marty Lundeen, and newcomers Gerrie Aulisa and Jessica Shannon.
They responded to a Daily Herald questionnaire seeking their thoughts on some of the most pressing issues facing the district.
Below are O'Neill's responses.
In-person early voting with paper ballots began 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/.
Civic involvement: Military, Girl Scout leader, student mentor, school volunteer, school board member, Sunday school program director and teacher, women's Bible study leader, volunteer and competition judge at my local gym, currently opening a baby bank at my church for single moms in need of assistance
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 have always had a heart for public service. My public service journey began at seventeen, when I joined the Army National Guard. As my life circumstances have evolved -- including becoming a mom of four kids who have attended school in the district -- I have sought to improve and care for my community in several offices, from being a Girl Scout troop leader to a student mentor at Benson School. In 2017, that journey brought me to join the school board.
As a current member on the board, I am proud of all that we have accomplished in the last four years, and I am excited to see all of the great things we will do in the next four. I think a child's early years are the most important in forming their minds and characters, and I want to do my best to ensure that Itasca's children are equipped with everything they need to become successful lifelong learners.
Q. How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A. A+. Our board has supported the administration and that support has allowed our administrator to plan and execute a very thorough, well thought out plan. Our schools opened on time in august, full day and has been opened since. While offering full day school they also created an amazing remote academy for families who weren't able or comfortable sending their children to school in person. I am amazed at the leadership, teachers, school staff, and parents. Everyone has worked so well together to create a safe space for kids to resume school as normally as possible.
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 believe my role is to give a voice to constituents, pass along their concerns to our leadership and allow them to handle it whichever way they see fit within state regulations.
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 has gone above and beyond from the beginning of the pandemic. One thing that stands out was when the pandemic first began, most other districts were offering meals to be picked up at their schools and that was great. But my expectations were exceeded when our teachers and administrators worked together to pack meals and personally deliver food twice a week to families. This made my children feel so loved by their teachers. In a time of fear and uncertainty, it was wonderful as a mom to see my kids feeling loved by people outside of the home.
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?
Q. What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.