T. Marie Gall: 2021 candidate for Elmhurst Unit District 205 board
Six candidates are running for three, 4-year terms on the Elmhurst Unit District 205 board of trustees in the April 6 election. They are challengers Athena Arvanitis, T. Marie Gall, Laurel Schrementi and Gordon Snyder; and incumbents Kara Caforio and Jim Collins.
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: Bilingual elementary school teacher at Cicero Public Schools
Civic involvement: Mayfair Civic Association, Chicago; Northside Parent Network, Chicago; Democrats of DuPage County; Sandburg Middle School PTA; York High School PTSA; PFLAG member.
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 a professional educator. I feel it is very important to have someone on the school board who is in touch with the day-to-day issues of education. My input is not theoretical, it is practical and pertinent. I want to make new community connections for students in D205 with places like Brookfield Zoo, Morton Arboretum, and other cultural opportunities.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: My grade: A. The current school board has taken every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID. Considering none of us have ever dealt with a pandemic before, I am in support of keeping everyone as safe as possible. The gradual plan to reopen schools has included concerns about social distancing, early childhood development, and the use of outdoor areas when possible.
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 view my role as listening to constituents, researching available options, discussing issues with other districts, understanding the state authorities' recommendations, collaborating with other board members, and making a decision that is clearly communicated, logically explained and provides flexibility in this unknown new world of COVID-19.
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: D205 has provided students with the necessary technology to attend and succeed within a remote learning environment. Upgrades and materials were clearly available and instructions were provided. The varied schedules and expectations within grades and from school to school were inevitable, as teachers discovered more and more options for their students online.
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 plan for classes in the spring, for me, would be to wait until the majority of teachers and staff are vaccinated against the virus. Families could opt to have their child attend in-person instruction, understanding that the hybrid model requires the majority of instruction to be conducted online. Gradually, schools can monitor the flow of students through a.m./p.m. schedules, and alternate day schedules, to maintain adequate social distances.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: My position would be to gradually allow certain seasonal sports with the necessary protocols in place. If COVID cases do not increase, additional sports could be scheduled. Practice, games, transportation and all other components of the athletics program should be thoroughly reviewed and communicated to participants, prior to beginning a particular sport. I would suggest no spectators and limited numbers of participants for all sports.