Michael Albert Shackleton: 2021 candidate for Barrington Unit District 220 school board
11 candidates for four seats
Town: Barrington Hills
Occupation: Management Consultant
Civic involvement: Member, Barrington District 220 Board of Education: CoChair, Finance Committee, 2017-2019; Co-Chair Facilities Committee, 2019-present; Member Labor Relations Committee, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and Resource Allocation Committee. Barrington Lions Club; Barrington Youth Basketball Board member; Community Church of Barrington Strategic Planning Committee Board Member; MOCCHA, Men of Color Connected for High Achievement, Chicago. Former: Chicago Park District Liaison for Chicago Women's Park and Gardens; La Salle Language Academy, CPS, Chicago, Strategic Planning Committee member, Safety Committee member; BaringtonYouth Baseball Coach; Barrington Youth Football Coach.
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 as an incumbent for the opportunity to volunteer as a servant to the Barrington School Community. My experience on the 220 BOE these past 4 years plus relevant work experience within education and beyond with skill sets combined, position me to be a strong asset if reelected. This is especially true in these divided times while we emerge from the Co19 crisis. School board service is much broader than co19 with many important issues to manage in a four-year term, requiring maintaining a balanced non partisan, kids first view. At this particular time of great transition, with a new superintendent July 1, new board president and members in May, it will be critical that we work together with strong leadership to tackle our great opportunities and challenges without allowing politics to interfere in delivering what is best for our students as a community.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: We have all made sacrifices due to the pandemic and helping protect high risk people is one that most anyone you ask will gladly agree is worthy of making-In my opinion the families of public school aged children have been hit doubly hard with a greater set of sacrifices than those without-and we should do anything we can to minimize unnecessary hardship for all, especially to those families. I will not grade the current school board for a variety of reasons including the requirement that we work together ongoing regardless of how we vote or strongly we feel about any one issue personally. That said, it is our job as a school district to protect our students and provide them with what they need to grow and reach their potential and I take that responsibility very seriously.
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: We are charged as locally elected school board members with always representing the best interests of our local students, families and community first ... before any other community and to be non partisan as a Board by definition. We should never "defer" that responsibility to any other organization. There are guidelines we should consider as we make those board decisions on our students behalf regarding public health and other state and federal information and law. We also need to consider the Superintendent's recommendations along with staff recommendations before deciding as a board, (with a majority of at least 4 of 7) on important issues. We do need to seek, hear and consider all voices within our community in general and we do need to provide leadership-"even if unpopular." This held true before the pandemic and it will after. Our goal is to satisfy the needs of each and every student on going and be able to recognize improved ways to meet all student needs ongoing.
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: Our adjustments are not over and our school district very large. Some student's needs were adequately met, some more than adequately by distance learning, and some not met well-Our enrollment dropped significantly during the crisis.
I'm hopeful future data shows our students were not as negatively impacted as may have been. We know our various students learn differently and are from diverse economic backgrounds. Had we provided the option for those who chose to attend beginning this school year, (which also protects those at high risk), they would have had a much different experience and we would have had more data for decision making.
We know the case counts didn't increase until later/flu season, and the mitigations work. Why are we adhering to health metrics including high risk population to make decisions for our lower risk school children? Public health departments should provide schools with better data for decision making. (we were offering distance teaching and learning choices for those at high risk). The students, had they attended in the fall would have had more opportunities for interaction within the school community perhaps minimizing possible collateral damage. Possible student learning loss is only one possible adverse affect of the crisis -- their overall health goes beyond the virus -- a comprehensive view is warranted.
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: The district staff are working on possibilities for more students who choose to do so at elementary and middle school levels to attend schools more than our current hybrid models allow for. With the lower case counts we are seeing, and vaccinations being administered to teachers and staff, I am hopeful we are able to manage our resources in ways that provides the students and families that want to be in schools the chance to do that -- the sooner the better. I have requested that our leadership team revisit the possibilities for doing so before spring break so we can take action after spring break and beyond. In hindsight, we know the case counts did not increase until later/flu season, the mitigations are effective in schools and higher risk people can be protected.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific. A: I am for the student athletes and families being given the opportunity to participate.
We know the mitigations work and allow for the sport to be played-even if not the same as before or ideal- We also know that many athletes have continued to participate in their sports safely throughout the pandemic, with some taking on additional risk like traveling to other states and that it has worked for them. Finally we know that if the virus is contracted by student aged kids, it is not as serious as it is to higher risk people like those over 65 years old or with other health conditions and that those at higher risk can be protected from exposure. We have all made sacrifices due to the pandemic and helping protect high risk people is one that almost anyone you ask will gladly agree is worthy of making-In my opinion the families of public school aged children have been hit doubly hard with a greater set of sacrifices than those without-and we should do anything we can to minimize unnecessary hardship to everyone, especially those families