Evan Williamson: 2021 candidate for Libertyville District 70 board
Seven candidates for four four-year seats
Occupation: Associate Director, AbbVie
Civic involvement: GLSA soccer coach, Little League Baseball coach, Cub Scout Den Leader, hospital volunteer, Eagle Scout
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. Public schools are a cornerstone of the community. They have an obligation and expectation to reflect the values and ideals of that community and provide a high-quality education. I am running for the District 70 School Board to ensure that the community has a voice in how their schools operate and that the needs of children are prioritized. I am a product of the great public schools in our area and feel that our children deserve the same. I am a firm believer that "the best way to predict the future is to make it." We have a tremendous opportunity to emerge from the challenges of the last year stronger with deepened resolve to serve the children of our community.
Q. How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A. The current board has failed to navigate our district effectively through the pandemic. They have failed in their duty to hold the administration accountable for developing and advancing a plan to return children to full-time instruction and neglected opportunities to question and challenge shortsighted and reactionary decisions that have set us further behind. As a result, our children will go more than a year without receiving a full-day of instruction. That is unacceptable.
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. State and Federal authorities have been clear that the ultimate decision on the operation of schools rests with the local district leadership. Their guidance provides a framework and recommendations to inform these decisions but at few points are specific actions mandated or required. This is the essence of federalism and critical to our society. Most crucial decisions will have advocates on multiple sides and it is the role of a leadership body to weigh these considerations and make the best decision for the majority of their constituents. Strong leaders understand that it is impossible to make everyone happy all of the time and that providing a consistent, steady approach to weighing competing interests will produce the best decisions.
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 district administration has failed to serve the majority of their students during the pandemic by neglecting to prioritize their social, emotional, and academic needs. Parents were deprived of a choice for the entire Fall and then provided with substandard and restrictive options for a limited hybrid reopening despite overwhelming support for in-person instruction among both the parents and teachers. The administration has made shortsighted decisions throughout. This resulted in the frequent shifting of students between teachers at each stage causing further disruption and frustration. Forward-looking plans would identify a desired future state and ensure that each step along the way furthered that goal. The role of a board member is to question and challenge each decision, this was sorely lacking. Individual poor decisions are unavoidable and are bound to happen. A series of poor decisions reflects a systemic issue with the deliberative process and will inevitably result in more poor decisions.
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 fundamental role of a board is to serve in an oversight and advisory capacity. They should not be dictating plans for conducting classes or overstepping the role of the superintendent and district administration. The board should ensure that clear expectations are outlined and hold the administration accountable for the development, communication, and execution of those plans. We know that it is safe for schools to operate in person this spring and would expect that the administration is actively working to make that a reality.
Q. What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.