Kathryn Padberg: 2021 candidate for Villa Park Elementary District 45 board
Eight candidates are running for four, 4-year terms on the Villa Park Elementary District 45 board of trustees in the April 6 election.
They are incumbents Judith C. Degnan and Navreet Kaur Heneghan, and challengers West Conway Marinier, Allen Legutki, Kelli P. May, John E. Naughton III, Kathryn Padberg, and Emily Shultz.
John E. Naughton III has dropped out of the race and is no longer actively campaigning. Kelli P. May did not respond to the questionnaire.
The Daily Herald asked each candidate about issues facing the district and how they would contribute to its progress.
In-person early voting with paper ballots is now available at the DuPage County Fairgrounds Building 5, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. In-person early voting with touch-screen voting begins March 22 at locations throughout the county. Learn more at www.dupageco.org/earlyvoting/.
Occupation: Eighth-grade teacher, Elmhurst Unit District 205
Civic involvements: Volunteer soccer coach with Lombard Park District for four seasons; volunteer at Yorkfield Food Pantry; volunteer with Tri-Town YMCA Nourished & Healthy food distribution; Schafer PTA secretary; high school speech tournament volunteer and judge
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 am running for school board not as a "one-item candidate" but because I believe my experience in education is deep and wide. Bettering the lives of kids motivates me, and this includes their health, safety, and access to a variety of instruction and educational opportunities.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: B+ Dr. Palmisano and the board have been responsive to the community members, staff, and students. I appreciate their candor and frustration with hurdles they face, most recently with securing vaccines for employees and local residents in the 1-A and 1-B categories. The temperature check entries in the school are a wise expenditure, in my opinion.
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 am a teacher who is teaching in person every day, since October. I see firsthand the gaps in safety, and how these could be corrected. I respect science, and know that set metrics should not be ignored. Saying this, I believe it is time to include teachers, parents, administration, and medical personnel to the table for dialogue on how to best safely transition students back into the classrooms. Often brainstorming in an open forum can provide great solutions!
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: Yes and no. Yes, in that food distribution continued in a regular manner, and extracurricular virtual activities like morning yoga and builders club continued. No, in that the substitution protocol of all asynchronous learning should be addressed. Even with a substitute shortage, if students were grouped together, could a teacher, potentially remotely, "sub" in?
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: If elected, I would not be on the board until May. Then, I would focus on summer programs focused on social-emotional opportunities for the students in most need, as identified by the counselors, social workers, and teachers. Additionally, I would support summer classes for students in academic need, and look to interested, engaged teachers to lead.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: District 45 is an elementary district. At the middle school level, many of the athletes in their conferences are required to submit to saliva tests, temperature checks, and mask-wearing. I think if these protocols are adhered to, then, in conjunction with quarantining when exposed, I would support this. But this must have full "buy-in" by all.