Robert Reed: 2021 candidate for Naperville Unit District 203
Challenger Robert Reed, one of nine candidates running for four, 4-year terms in Naperville Unit District 203, responds to the Daily Herald candidate questionnaire for the April 6, 2021, local elections.
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Occupation: Chief Operations Officer at International Bank of Chicago
Civic involvement: Various posts over time. Current treasurer of Boy Scouts Troop 133 and president of the MB2 Pool Board
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: This would be my first election. To reinstall transparency, trust, and accountability to the board members. I would also want to implement choice for full-time in-person or eLearning school days.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: I would provide the current board with a C for their response to the pandemic. While watching each board meeting with bated breath, it occurred to me that this district was not using the resources it could be to solve the challenges at hand. There was significant potential being untapped. I was watching the impact on teachers and students and learning about how the board gave up their representation of the people and became very frustrated.
Isn't that why you are elected to represent? While I recognize that the superintendent has valuable knowledge and expertise, this should have been used in addition to the board rather than instead of the board.
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 as a board member would be to provide leadership by listening to what the issues are, providing honest feedback and operationalizing solutions to accomplish the goals of the district using the state guidelines. This has not been done over the past year.
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 did not adequately serve students during the pandemic. There was a significant gap for those students with IEPs. I have spoken to many frustrated parents on this specific topic. They felt alone in trying to help their children with no one to turn to and a board that no longer represented them nor gave them any reasons for their decisions. In some cases, this could have been accomplished with implementation of aids on Zoom meetings with breakout rooms to assist the teachers.
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 do have a plan. We have numerous examples on how these challenges can be handled well not only from other schools in Illinois but in other states who have been in school full time for months without an outbreak. We should discuss and take the best of the best ideas for our district and operationalize them.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: There are clear guidelines from the state on school sports. These guidelines should be followed to protect the students, coaches, and staff. I do find it interesting though that all that is discussed is sports. What about all the other after school activities that should be open and running? What about band or chess or other activities that enhance our children's experience in school? We need to be talking about those activities as well.