Lauren Berkowitz Klauer: 2021 candidate for Barrington Unit District 220 school board
11 candidates for four seats
Occupation: Stay-at-home parent
Civic involvement: I currently serve as the Vice President of Social Engagement on the Hough Street School PTO and Director of Events for Barrington Children's Charities. I volunteer for Packs of Plenty (P. O. P) (formerly Blessings in a Backpack), which provides supplemental food for over 750 kids on free and reduced lunch plans in District 220 on nights and weekends.
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've planned to run for the school board for years now. I waited until my kids were old enough, my employment situation allowed me the time and my husband agreed to the undertaking! I am not entering this election lightly, as I know the commitment of time and energy that goes into serving on the school board. I am eager to serve. I believe I am levelheaded and I am not running because of one issue.
Further, I think it's important that the community not focus on 'one issue' when voting for school board members. The climate is hard right now with kids out of school, e-learning, schedules changing, private school attendance, etc. While casting an angry vote may feel good, this virus will pass and there will be a hundred other issues at hand. I'd say to vote for someone you can trust to vote for you. Someone who will listen, weigh all the factors and vote with the best interest of the students at heart always.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: I believe that the current school board did the best they could possibly do with the tools and ever-changing information they were given. I think the same continues to be true today. It seems that as the COVID restrictions are lifted in our state, the board and district faculty are responding swiftly to get as many kids back in schools as possible, if the students want to be there. Various options have been offered for families with different needs to make everyone's transitions out of lockdown as seamless as possible.
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: There are so many factors at play with regards to the pandemic and how the Board of Education can confront it. On all issues, I plan to be a voice of reason if elected. It is no doubt that the current environment is 'hot' right now and many people are upset because they don't think they are being heard or their opinions valued. I think rebuilding trust is high on the future school board 'to-do' list. As mentioned, I am levelheaded and I'm not running for one topic or because I'm angry. I'm running to serve and I think that will help build trust. There is value in everyone's opinion and the community should feel that the board is listening. I want to be a vote for the community and I want the best for the children in District 220.
Serving as a school board member should be just that: service. It should be a commitment to learn each and every side of issues at hand before making decisions. In my opinion, personal agendas or preconceived notions have no place on the board and can hinder progress.
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: That's a tough question to answer with a blanket statement. From what I've seen, D220 teachers did an excellent job pivoting various times throughout the pandemic to educate kids from afar. The conditions were unprecedented. It seems to me that we have been lucky to have the technology we have in place during this very trying time. Technology, right now, is at the very forefront of education. Most of the student's time spent is technology based.
It's my opinion that it is important that we offer ALL STUDENTS access to cutting edge technology throughout their education in 220 but also focus on interpersonal communication and in-person learning where we can and as soon as we can. Interacting with others is a highly important aspect to education and we cannot let that fall to the wayside. It is not lost on me that each student is different and needs are different, so this is not a blanket statement but I do feel that social interaction is one of the most important things in childhood and adolescent development.
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: So much of our ability to go back to school full time depends on a green light from the public health department, as we are a public school district. It has been a tough year, with a lot of unfortunate factors at play. Iwant my children back in the classroom full time but that move does not come without major considerations for the safety of our faculty and kids. I think respectful, open-minded conversations between the Board of Education, the Barrington Education Association and district administrators will serve as a first step to getting us there.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: Mental health is important. The isolation and disconnection that many kids are experiencing due to pandemic is alarming. Sports are good. Exercise is important, as is a sense of community. If we can ensure the safety of students while playing sports right now, those who want to play should play!