Angela Balanag: 2021 candidate for Libertyville District 70 board
Seven candidates for four four-year seats
Occupation: English teacher at Grant Community High School District 124, Fox Lake
Civic involvement: This is my first time seeking to serve my community in an elected position. I am a civil servant by profession.
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 think every school board should include the perspective of a veteran educator. I have dedicated my life to advocating for what is best or kids. My personal mantra expands that advocacy; "High-Quality Opportunities for All" means all members of our community deserve high-quality opportunities to grow. My 20+ years of full-time classroom teaching and advanced degrees in both curriculum and instruction and school administration make me a highly-qualified candidate. I am seeking election for the first time to the Board of Education for Libertyville District 70; I was appointed to the board in November 2020 to fill a vacancy of an elected member who moved out of the district. At first, I did not intend to run; campaigning is a new skill for me. After my first board meeting in November, I realized the importance of having a veteran educator's voice as part of the board. All voices deserve to be heard; I want to bring different perspectives along with my experience and training to make the best decisions for the future of our community.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why? (200 word limit)
A: Every community, every district is writing a new playbook for a new kind of emergency, a pandemic. Every community, every district is making mistakes. Every community, every district is doing the best they can. As we do when we learn a new skill, we need to seek advice from others and share our experiences of what works and what doesn't to help each other do better, uplift each other; that is how we grow.
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: Of course, as a teacher and as a mom, I see students, parents, and educators suffering, my family included. I see my role as a combination of giving a voice to all constituents and providing leadership, even if unpopular. I especially want to listen to and give voice to community members with whom I disagree because that discourse helps the community grow empathy for each other and provides the first steps toward common ground. Ultimately, I want to provide leadership to do what is best for kids, even when those choices are unpopular.
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: Equity was at the forefront of the D70's early decisions. Libertyville District 70 prioritized inviting students with IEPs and 504s back into the buildings to best serve their learning needs. D70 also instituted e-learning centers in each building to provide that high-quality learning opportunity. In a perfect world, D70 would have instituted plans that allowed easy flow among remote, hybrid, blended, and in-person learning so that the schools could be as open as possible and able to flex easily without disrupting schedules and teaching assignments.
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: Without detailing all of the mitigation strategies, after taking in my own professional experience with different versions of synchronous and asynchronous e-learning, the new CDC guidance, the visit to Arlington Heights District 25, information from lawyers, and information from community members, it is my opinion that the grade schools (pre-K to 5th grade) can open safely for full days as soon as possible. The middle school can open safely at approximately fifty-percent capacity as soon as possible and safely offer in-person sports and activities. In a perfect world, D70 would have instituted plans that allowed easy flow among remote, hybrid, blended, and in-person learning so that the schools could be as open as possible and able to flex easily without disrupting schedules and teaching assignments.
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific. (200 word limit)
A: As long as each parent, coach, and student athlete follows the prescribed protocols to mitigate spread of COVID-19, then high school sports should resume with oversight by IHSA, ISBE, and IDPH. Students need the activity, social interaction, and healthy competition that high school sports offer for each student's emotional and academic well-being.