Marcia Reiken: 2021 candidate for Marquardt Elementary District 15 school board
Six candidates are running for four, 4-year terms on the Marquardt Elementary School District 15 board. They are: incumbents Jean Randazzo, Danuta Polsakiewicz and Luz Luna; and challengers Marcia Reiken, Karen Camporese and Rebecca Giannelli. Polsakiewicz and Luna did not complete a questionnaire.
Village: Glendale Heights
Occupation: Special Education Resource Teacher
Employer: Valley View School District 365U
Civic involvement: Volunteer at Feed My Starving Children monthly (prior to COVID)
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 an educator, I see the need for change within the school board to best support students and teachers during this time. As a parent, the lack of child care options for parents choosing hybrid so they can work is an issue I don't feel has been addressed or resolved.
An issue that motivates me is how to get students safely to be able to attend school full-time by either the end of the school year or this upcoming fall. Also how to best support the social emotional needs of students and staff surviving this pandemic. The district is going to need to hire and keep more social workers and psychologists in each building to be able to support the students after this traumatic life event.
Q. How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A. I think the school board has done as good as they could with this unchartered territory. As with many other districts, they tried their best but could have taken further into account teacher concerns about returning in person and how to best navigate returning to school. I'd give a solid B as a grade.
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 feel the role of the school board is to listen to all parties and thoughtfully decide what is BEST for the staff and students. Parents voice should be heard as well but best supporting students needs to always be the goal. I don't mind being the person to face of adversity if it leads to students being successful academically and socially. The school board could use a teacher's perspective and I don't teach in the district so I can give a clear voice to what may be best for students.
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. Honestly, this is our first year in the district, so I am not fully aware as to what happened in the spring. For the fall, I feel that the district has supported students, teachers, and parents decently. A concern that myself and many other working parents have and continue to face is the lack of affordable child care options for hybrid students as they are only half-day. With no before and after-school programs, park district programs, and VERY LIMITED options, many parents have been forced to either quit their jobs or go to part-time so their children can actually attend school.
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. Yes, I have a plan based on the district I teach in and the ones surrounding District 15. The fall was very rocky as a parent. We loved the full-day remote schedule with time of synchronous and asynchronous learning. When classes went to hybrid it was disappointing to learn that students would attend half-days 5 days a week leaving working parents at a lost for child care. The lack of child care options from the district is an issue I'd like to see resolved before the end of the current school year.
My plan: With teachers and many members of the community gaining access and choosing to get vaccinated, I believe classes should resume for the spring full-time for parents who have chosen the hybrid option. The schools should slowly implement to full-time learning starting with prekindergarten, kindergarten, and first grade, then second and third grades start the following week, then fourth and fifth grade the week or two after that.
Q. What is your position on allowing school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A. This will be an unpopular opinion, but unless a sport can be played with a mask, this is not YET the time for some sports. Sports where close contact with others is a necessity, need to really be considered if essential. Coronavirus is too much of a risk to take with its high transmission rate. Long term or deadly consequences may not necessarily happen to students but to the family members they live with and whom take care of them.