Malgorzata McGonigal: 2021 candidate for Barrington Unit District 220 school board
11 candidates for four seats
Town: North Barrington
Occupation: Mortgage loan originator assistant
Civic involvement: None listed
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A: I have never run in any elections before now. What motivates me is the mental and physical health of our children, the education of our children and responsible spending of the taxes that our community pays to the district.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: Our current 220 school board would get an "F." The school board directives should always be focused on the best interest of our children while also being fiscally responsible regarding our tax paying community. I have two children in school -- one in grade school and one in high school -- and I have also read over the District 220 budget from last year. I would agree it has been a very difficult year for most everyone; adapting and adjusting to the pandemic protocol has been challenging to say the least. However, from my viewpoint it's become quite apparent that our board has still failed miserably in their duties. Without proper leadership and direction the situation in our district will never Q: improve, regardless of the circumstances.
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: Providing leadership, even if unpopular. We need real leadership that people will recognize and get behind if we ever want to get back to some sense of normalcy. Nobody can argue that it has been a tough past year and my sympathies go out to those who have lost loved ones. However, we can't continue to run and hide thinking that will be helpful. We need to get back to business and as part of the school board I am more than willing to take the lead on difficult issues. The mental, social and physical health of our children is critical and their futures are at stake. The vast majority of our children's development comes from school. Learning remotely on computers and tablets may provide some marginal good, but the children can only fully benefit equally and appropriately on all levels by actually being IN SCHOOL. This is not just my opinion but an accurate statement that all parents will recognize. Unfortunately it seems that in many instances our public unions are finding ways to keep our schools closed and our children are being penalized for it. Issues like this can't continue, and it will take strong leadership to do what's best for our children, the district and its taxpaying residents.
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: By closing down the schools and denying students their needs for regular in-person learning, our district did NOT adequately serve our children. Local private schools and the public school districts in most other states should be used as clear-cut examples on how this could have been handed significantly better.
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: First we need to define "safely" to properly answer that question. According to the science and virtually all experts there is absolutely no reason why schools shouldn't be fully open now! Private & Catholic institutions have remained open with virtually no issues whatsoever. Keeping public schools closed or partially open with tremendous restrictions in place is FAR from "safe." In the last eleven months there have been a quickly growing number of suicides, along with depression, anxiety and obesity amongst our children. Educational quality and grades have dropped drastically while countless children fall off the educational grid altogether. What we have learned from the fall semester is that the current methodology is a complete failure. Schools MUST be open for normal activities starting NOW. Requiring some additional safety precautions is acceptable, but the reality is that nothing will ever be 100% effective so keep them sensible and realistic. I understand that's simplifying the situation but usually the simplest solution is the most effective.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: ALL sports should be allowed to return to regular schedules. There are no "metrics" showing that youth sports are health risks, and it's physically, mentally and socially helpful for our students to participate in these activities. It's healthy to be active! Parents still have the ultimate decision on whether or not their children will participate in extracurricular activities; it should not be the district or state.