Andrea L. Rauch, 2021 candidate for Northwest Community High School District 214 school board
Eight candidates for four seats
City: Arlington Heights
Occupation: Scientist at Honeywell
Civic involvement: Volunteer at school functions
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 believe the future of this country is dependent upon the success of the next generation and understand this success begins with a strong community and a solid education. I was fortunate to have a supportive family and strong educational community who helped prepare me for the real world. I would like to share that same support with students in District 214. A particular issue that motivates me is recognizing and respecting that everyone is unique. No two students are alike, no two stories are the same. Each of us and every student has skills and talents unique to them. This world needs all of those skills and talents to continue to evolve and survive. I think it is an accountability of our educational system to help students identify their skills and talents, and encourage them to use them.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: The current school board had to rely on recommendations from government agencies and data provided by the district administration. As guidelines continued to evolve, the board worked tiringly to ensure the district's mission was achieved. Due to the current board's forward thinking and actions taken over the course of their tenure, District 214 was better prepared than most for the pandemic. These actions included ensuring the district is staffed with talented and dedicated educators who relentlessly continue to educate, having the technological capability to successfully convert to remote learning with limited notice and minimal effort, and maintaining a balanced budget. Through actions like these, educators developed a plan that offered families flexibility to be in-person or remote, a voice amplification and camera system was installed, and the Career Pathways Program continued to provide students with internships. Though communication could have been better throughout the pandemic, the board continued to achieve the district mission while keeping students, educators, and the community safe. For this reason, I would give the current school board a high grade.
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 view the role of the board in confronting the pandemic involves serving as a legislative body in the development and evaluation of policies. This includes gathering necessary information from government agencies, district educators, students and families, and the community. The board then should assimilate this information, ask questions, and ensure policies support the district's mission while keeping the district community safe. Further, it is the role of the board to hold themselves responsible and provide leadership even if unpopular.
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 believe members of District 214 have worked very hard to serve all students even with the disruptions caused by the pandemic. As academic, physical, emotional, and social learning needs were identified, teams across multiple disciplines worked together to implement solutions. A few examples include ensuring students had the technology including hot spots necessary for remote learning, providing meals for student pickup, performing more than double wellness visits, and quickly adapting programs for Life Skills students. Still, I believe the district recognizes there are needs that haven't been identified and more needs will evolve as we continue through this pandemic. Both which district leaders and educators already have expectations to address. An example would include addressing students whose decision to attend school daily is dependent on their friends' attendance or activities in the class that day. Though well intentioned, allowing students to decide day to day to attend class or not may not have adequately served all 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: My plan would be to continue to conduct five day a week in-person, with the option of remote, classes in the same safe and effective manner as has taken place since the beginning of quarter three. My plan would include reviewing the surveys students recently took to evaluate the effectiveness of the current situation and determine if there are additional safety concerns families have. Also, district staff would continue to contact students and parents about returning to school in-person. If elected and my plan was adapted by the board, I would still encourage decisions to be continually reviewed and evaluated as new data becomes available. As a scientist, I believe it is important to ask questions that identify the root problem and acquire the data that provides insight into developing the best solution. As a board member, I would acquire data not only through district databases but through discussion with educators, students, and parents. From the fall to spring semester, I would recommend having only two options, all remote or all in-person for students.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: If cases remain within recommended metric guidelines and there are no new concerns of the pandemic, I think students should have opportunities to resume activities with the proper safety precautions. This includes allowing students to participate in sports, fine arts, academic clubs, and other extracurricular activities in high schools.