Leonard "Lenny" Walker, 2021 candidate for Northwest Community High School District 214 school board
Eight candidates for four seats
Occupation: Vice president of Sales & Operations at Kennicott Brothers Company
Civic involvement: Board member of NSSEO
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: My motivation for running for reelection is very simple, make sure we continue to have a student focused environment helping students be successful while with us in D214 and for life after graduation. One of my favorite celebrations is the first generation college student. I firmly believe a person cannot achieve what they cannot see and that is why we continue to concentrate and expand on the Academic Programs and Pathways
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: We developed and implemented a very comprehensive plan that was driven by data. The guidance by the CDC, CCPHD and state of Illinois continues to be a moving target and our administration does an excellent job of pouring over the data and adapting the plan. The administration communicates to parents on a weekly basis sharing the metrics used to develop the original plan in August. Teachers and support teams have made hundreds of in home visits for emotional well-being support. Sites were set up in the communities to ensure students had access to technology. In addition we continued with the meal programs so families continued to receive help. The district pulled together to collect and distribute personal hygiene items needed by students.
I believe everyone at D214 continues be student focused as we overcome and adapt during the pandemic.
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 board member I have to remember the difference in governing and managing the school district as we navigate the return to in-person learning. Our mission remains the same; continue to drive for increasing opportunities for education of our students; educators and community.
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 know we have not made any changes to the grading policy and we see a passing rate of approximately 95%. This would suggest our students and educators are adapting and overcoming the challenges. The team continues with in home visits and the out reach program to help balance the emotional needs of our students. D214 remains committed to ensuring every student receives the help that is needed.
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: Our intention is to bring back as many students as possible while following the mitigation guidelines that are in effect The administration is constantly reviewing the plan to achieve our goal.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: I continue to support the IHSA plan and welcome the return of sports, fine arts and other extracurricular activity that is allowed while following the guidance of the state of Illinois, CDC, CCPHD.