Navreet Kaur Heneghan: 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/.
Age: None given
Occupation: Attorney, self-employed
Civic involvements: Currently serving as a school board member; volunteer in multiple capacities
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 am running for re-election because I believe in making sure high quality public education is available and accessible to all of our kids, I believe that public schools can be part of a strong community, and in continuing to support our district, the teachers, the staff and our families. I want to make sure that our district continues to support all of our kids and families not only when it comes to education, but in any other community support that we can provide.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: Our current board has been consistent and thoughtful in our response to the pandemic. We have had excellent ongoing discussions and had started making sure that the preparations started right away in the spring of 2020 to make sure that we responsibly respond to our community. I would grade it as doing well.
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 believe that our board's role is to provide leadership even if unpopular, but to do so in an informed manner and not in a reactive manner. So, we have used state and local authorities' information for our deliberations and discussions.
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: Any time we discovered a way to help our families, staff, teachers, and community, we tried to address those issues. For example, within a couple of weeks of our schools shutting down, we figured out a way to continue providing free meals to every child in our community, 18 or younger, regardless of whether they were enrolled in our schools. We continue to provide this ongoing service week after week to present.
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, we are currently implementing this plan. We are always learning and trying to be better, and continue to improve our remote learning so that we can make sure we're serving all our families/kids regardless of whether they have chosen remote or hybrid learning.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: This doesn't apply to my school board position, as it is K-8.