Amy Nelson: 2021 candidate for District 211 School Board
Nine candidates for three 4-year terms
Occupation: Account executive at a local insurance agency
Employer: Alera Group
Civic involvement: Not much from a public standpoint, but I have been involved with my church and a few local organizations/individuals to provide resources to those who need assistance.
Q. Why are you running for this office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. I have actually considered running for the school board at least twice over the past few years. In fact, I interviewed for Lauanna Recker's open seat when she resigned in 2017. Over the past couple of years I have watched the board become too predictable ... 5 votes one way, 2 the other. I see an opportunity to bring some more moderate views to the table, and hopefully offer a more balanced approach to the decisions that are made by the board. We also have no Palatine High School representation on the board and I feel that this is a bit of a disservice to my immediate neighbors.
Q. How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A. I am disappointed in their response, primarily due to the document that they signed, which gave Dr. Small full control in the decision making process. I have seen many districts in the surrounding area get students back into school, safely. I would like to have seen a more proactive approach in terms of trying to set up all-remote vs all-in-person classroom options. In addition, the students are losing hours of instruction time with the half day/half week class schedule. For example, one class would normally provide 8 hours of instruction over 2 weeks (10 days). The current schedule is only offering 5 hours. They are losing 3 hours of instruction every 2 weeks, which equates to approximately 24 hours over the semester.
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 will always believe in giving a voice to the stakeholders within the district. With that being said, for every one person that wants it a certain way, there will be someone that wants it to be different. I consider this to be the reason as to why it is so important to have different communities represented within the board, and why it is vital to add a board member from the PHS neighborhood. Each school within our district has a different socioeconomic makeup, which means the voices of the community are going to be different. I feel that the state and local authorities (the CDC, IDPH and CCDPH in the case of COVID) are important to listen to, but they tend to speak in generalities. We need to use their expertise and recommendations, but within reason, as it relates to our specific community needs.
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 have been so impressed by all of the schools and their Food Services teams, preparing and providing meals for our students.
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. Based on the numbers of students that are attending in-person classes, I want to believe that there is the opportunity to allow any and all of those students to be there all 5 days a week. We need to get back to all-day classes; no more half days.
Q. What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A. I have no concerns about high school sports being in session, as long as masks are being utilized when it makes sense. I have a niece on the gymnastics team -- they wear their masks the entire time, except for the 1-2 minutes that they are on the apparatus.
Q. What other issues need to be addressed?
A. Just a few that come to mind ... equity between the schools; offering and promoting alternatives to college; mentorship programs; the upcoming teacher contract; and, of course, the always talked about TAXES