Robert Mancilla: 2021 candidate for Elk Grove District 59 school board
Five Candidates -- Four 4-year terms
Hometown: Arlington Heights
Occupation: Lawyer (in-house corporate counsel)
Employer: Syntellis Performance Solutions, LLC (10 S. Wacker Dr., Suite 3375, Chicago, IL 60606)
Civic involvement: Member of the CCSD 59 Board of Education since March 2020
Q. Why are you running for this office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. I am running for the school board for two reasons. First, I want to advocate for high quality, rigorous, and equitable learning opportunities for all children. The children in District 59 have the right to an education that will equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate, compete, and succeed in a global society. Second, I want to advocate for families -- in particular those who may feel underrepresented and/or excluded as decision-makers in their children's education. Families play a key role in the education of their children and home-school relationships are vital to supporting students' academic achievement. I was raised to value education and have personally experienced how transformative a quality education can be to a family and its future generations. I want this for all children and families in District 59.
Q. How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A. I am a member of the current School Board. I know first hand that we put the safety of our students, staff, and community first. During a recent school board meeting I stated that the best we can do is rely on the data, the science, and the experts when analyzing the best way to take action. We have made difficult decisions. We are currently expanding our hybrid model so that more students can return and learn in a safe environment four days a week. I will continue to rely on the data and the guidance from the Illinois Department of Health and CDC when analyzing this issue and taking action.
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 provided authentic, transparent leadership when making decisions regarding school closures and the pandemic. I have been very vocal throughout this process. I have clearly articulated why I am voting a certain way or why I believe the board should take certain actions. The community should understand why I am taking certain actions on the Board. I do not disregard or ignore the members who may disagree with me. I often ask questions of the administration based on comments I receive from community members who may disagree with my position. I have made every effort to be straightforward and transparent in my decisions during the pandemic. Ultimately, I represent the members of the community and take their requests and concerns seriously.
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. The District continued to provide over 450,000 meals to students during the pandemic. The District provided Wi-Fi hotspots and technology support for our students and their parents. Certain students were able to attend in person classes to receive specialized attention. However, the services we provide to address disruptions caused by the pandemic are only just beginning as we expand our return to school hybrid model. All options must be on the table to address any learning loss or negative impacts caused the pandemic. In addition, we need to ensure that we provide professional learning opportunities for staff who have also been impacted. This work must continue throughout the end of the 2021 school year, into the summer school offering, and beyond.
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. The District will follow the guidance from the Illinois Department of Health and ensure that our students and staff wear masks, maintain social distancing, wash hands, and clean their work spaces. These are the basic steps. However, the District has done more to strengthen these mitigation strategies including ventilation upgrades, specialized cleaning supplies and sprays, and plexiglass barriers for all students. We need to ensure that our students can return to a safe and comfortable learning environment this Spring.
Q. What other issues need to be addressed?
A. 2020 was a difficult year for our students and families. We must learn from it. We must become stronger from it. There are issues that are important to our students such as diversity, equity and inclusion efforts that must continue to be addressed and improved. Moreover, our students must have the tools to compete and succeed in a global society and this includes strengthening our curriculum. We must continue to review our processes and improve them. We should always strive to do things better. We cannot be content with where things stand.