Zack Frangidakis: 2021 candidate for Addison Elementary District 4 board
Eight candidates are running for four, 4-year terms on the Addison Elementary District 4 board of trustees in the April 6 election.
They are incumbents Rudy Aranda, Zack Frangidakis and Jeremiah Lange, and challengers Taso Triantafillos, Eduardo Castillo Perez, Daniel Alexander Medina, Ellen M. Finizio and Christen Bollig. Finizio 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/.
Occupation: Technology administrator at a school district in Cook County
Civic involvement: I have been involved in my local school PTA for the last 7 years.
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 have been on the board since 2017 and I am running for reelection. The issue I am most passionate about is community engagement. Now more than ever it's absolutely imperative that a school board engages effectively with the community it serves. By engaging the community we can ensure that all voices are heard and included while ensuring transparency. During my first term, I worked with the superintendent to lay the foundation for the district's first-ever Community Advisory Council.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: The board followed the science and the data from the local county health department. In addition the board surveyed parents and teachers in the fall. That information was used to formulate a plan to safely bring students back in small groups in the fall while ensuring the safety of students and staff. I think given the constantly evolving (and, at times contradictory) guidance from state and local authorities, the board did a great job given the extremely challenging situation.
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 think it's important to acknowledge here that depending on the situation all three roles are important. In March of 2020, the district had no choice but to quickly pivot to remote learning based on the governor's stay at home order.
In the fall, we knew that many students were struggling with remote learning so we offered students a hybrid learning option who needed in person instruction. While this was an unpopular decision the board felt very strongly that parents should have the option of sending their students to school. Recognizing that we needed to provide continuity for students who were benefiting from remote learning, we offered parents the option of keeping their students at home. Ultimately a school board's focal responsibility is to the children it serves.
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: The board collaborated with High School District 88 and elementary school districts 45 and 48 to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost for all children in the communities of Addison, Oakbrook Terrace, and Villa Park. Together with our food service companies, the four school districts have provided meals to all children since the pandemic started in March 2020, including during the summer months and school breaks. In Addison alone, we have provided nearly 200,000 meals in the past 11 months!
In addition to protect the continuity of learning the district worked with every family to ensure students had adequate internet access at home to participate in remote learning. Internet hot spots were provided to those families who lacked adequate access at home.
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: One of the things we learned in the fall is the challenge of teaching students in a hybrid setting. Our plan for the spring is to ensure that our teachers have the appropriate tools, training and resources to provide hybrid instruction.
In addition, we are looking for ways to engage students to build relationships with them so that they feel comfortable. To address those needs the district has elected to use all of its additional remote learning planning days that were made available by the state board of education.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: Our school district is a K-8 district so this does not apply to us. Having said that as long as it is safe to do so I support allowing high school sports to continue.