Chris Martelli: 2021 candidate for Glen Ellyn District 41 school board
Eight candidates are vying for four seats (four-year term) in the 2021 Glen Ellyn District 41 school board race
City: Glen Ellyn
Occupation: Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Salt Creek D48
Civic involvement: I always participate in elections and look to expand my civic involvement with this election.
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 the Board of Education in Glen Ellyn School District 41 because I have been a public educator for 24 years and feel I have a level of expertise that would be beneficial to the school board, especially during these challenging times of the pandemic. I am currently the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Salt Creek School District 48 and understand the inside perspective of what makes a high-achieving school district. Also, I have a clear understanding of how to navigate the current pandemic from a school management perspective. While the pandemic is a large part of our current educational landscape, I do not feel I have a myopic view toward this election and believe we must take a long view to serve our students and our community for the four-years of this term.
Q. How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A. I would give the current BoE an "A." I have a clear understanding of the challenges each school district faces and D41 has navigated these challenges well and has maximized the in-person instruction, to the best of their ability, for those parents that requested it. They have included mitigating factors that other districts have not put in place (saliva testing) that have allowed us to maintain open schools and a safer learning environment for all. The job of our schools is to ensure student safety and student growth. Regarding student safety, D41 and the school board have done an excellent job.
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. As a school board member, my role would be one of governance. To listen to various stakeholders, which would include the community, administration, and the teacher's union. All these stakeholders' viewpoints need consideration when making decisions in the best interest of students. Also, there are medical guidelines from the CDC, IDPH, and DPHD that will help provide guidance as to what is an appropriate way to reopen schools while ensuring the safety of our students. As the Director of C&I, I have the good fortune of understanding the school management side of the pandemic. I understand how space, staffing, parental desires for in-person or remote instruction, and the teachers' sense of safety while in the workplace, all play a factor in 1) providing as much in-person instruction as possible, and 2) maintaining a positive working relationship between the community, administration, and the teachers union.
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. In my son's case, yes, D41 provided adequate services. He's currently in kindergarten, and the pandemic has adversely impacted our youngest learners in some significant ways. For example, the foundational academic skills they are learning, their lack of technology fluency, and their need for social interactions to understand and develop the social norms that are so vital to our youngest students, have all been obstacles for our youngest learners. However, D41 continued to provide as much in-person instruction as possible. It kept his entire class together by providing instruction in a space that also allowed for 6ft of social distancing.
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. A plan needs to be created by the administrative team that is managing this moment. As a board member, I would be asking questions and making suggestions that would ensure a successful opening in the fall with maximum in-person instruction being offered. Again, considering my role as the Director of C&I, my team and I have needed to review a variety of plans that would allow us to maximize our in-person instruction. I am very familiar with the variables districts need to consider when attempting to maximize in-person instruction. Districts also need to ensure the in-person instruction option is equitable, inclusive, and is mindful of the medical guidelines that will ensure students and staff safety by mitigating the transmission of the virus.
Q. What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A. Middle School and High School sports are continuing to open. And while we are a very sportcentric society, I think it is more important to ensure the safety and well-being of all our students and staff to allow for the most opportunity for in-person instruction. Providing as much in-person instruction would benefit our students both academically and socially-emotionally. Considering there are a variety of benefits from sports and other extracurricular activities, we should encourage schools to provide these opportunities to students, so long as they do not hinder a district's ability to maximize in-person instruction.