Ashley Bennett: 2021 candidate for Big Hollow School District 38 board
Five candidates are competing for four 4-year terms.
Occupation: Owner/Operator, Sculpture Hospitality of Northern Illinois
Civic involvement: This will be my first time running for public office.
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: As a parent of a Big Hollow student, I am drawn to the board because I want to make a positive impact for all children in our community. Having developed and run a successful consulting company for the hospitality industry the last 15 years, I believe my business background will help me ensure that school fiduciary responsibilities are handled, while still attaining the highest level of education that we can achieve for our children. Through my business experience, I have learned to listen to people and understand their needs, developing a strategy for achieving those goals.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: Up until our last school board meeting which was on the 3/8 I had thought the school board was doing a great job. They were great in approving a remote and then late a hybrid program that was acceptable for the community. At the last board meeting though after surveying the community and find that the majority wanted a return to full in person learning the board voted to remain in the current hybrid schedule for the remained of the school year.
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 would be to relay the feelings of the community and to vote in favor of the feelings and wish. Far too often our community has seen the select few making decision against the wishes of the majority and their children.
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: For the position that were forced to deal with I would say they tried their best but it was not adequate. The amount of additional education time we could have provided our children by choosing a different hybrid schedule or pushing hard for a full return to learning could have been a vast improvement.
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 believe that we have learn through the change in guidance from ISBE, they believe it is time for children to be back in their classes. Teachers have all had the opportunity in our district at this point to be vaccinated. This means our school can adopt the less restrictive distancing recommends. This will allow for the majority of those students who wish to return to full in person learning to do so while those who are not quite ready to make their return to stay with the full remote option.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: I believe that all noncontact sports should have been back as an option once it was made known that children are not very susceptible to the virus and it symptoms. This would have included sport such as cross county, swimming, tennis, golf, and others. With a contact sport like football I also believe the children could have been safe guarded with PPE to continue as normal as well.