Diana Stout: 2021 candidate for DuPage High School District 88
Seven candidates are running for three, 4-year terms on the DuPage High School District 88 board of trustees in the April 6 election. They are incumbent Diana Stout of Lombard, and challengers Andrew Edmier of Addison, Tina Haralambopoulos of Addison, Blanca Jessen of Villa Park, Al Manzo of Addison, Christine Poirier of Lombard, and Jean Taylor of Villa Park.
The Daily Herald asked each candidate about issues facing the district and how they would contribute to its progress.
Tina Haralambopoulos has dropped out of the race and is not actively campaigning. Andrew Edmier, Blanca Jessen and Al Manzo did not respond to the questionnaire.
In-person early voting with touch-screen voting is available at locations throughout the county. In-person early voting with paper ballots is available at the DuPage County Fairgrounds Building 5, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. Learn more at www.dupageco.org/earlyvoting/.
Occupation: Information Systems Professional, Christ Church Oak Brook
Civic involvement: Member of the D45 Board of Education; Mentor for a D88 Women's Empowerment Group
Q: Why are you running for this office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A: I would like to serve on D88's school board because I want to make a positive difference in the lives of students and their parents, teachers and the community. I am not a person to stand back and complain about issues. I like to offer solutions that come from thoughtful consideration, sound research and empathy for all involved. It is not easy work, but I believe the knowledge and relationships I have built over the last 14 years in the public school arena will enable me to make positive contributions to the district quickly and effectively.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A: I'm not sure it is fair to give a grade to the D88 School Board on an issue that has never been faced before like the current pandemic. I do not know what an A or C looks like without knowing the end results or having something similar to compare it to. What I can say is that as a board member faced with the same decisions, it is a very complex and emotional issue that takes countless hours of consideration given the circumstances are constantly changing. Having two children in D88, I am satisfied with the email, website and online discussions that have taken place as well as the quality of remote instruction they have received.
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: My role would be within the context of seven board members. We would hear the needs of parents, teachers and community members and as one voice develop an action plan that could and should change based on new relevant information. I have no problem having a vigorous discussion with my fellow board members to ensure we are not one-sided or deferring to anyone.
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: Based on my experience, yes the district did continue to adequately serve their students. For example, sports started in person, then met and conducted workouts over Zoom calls and are now back in person with appropriate safety protocols in place. Clubs and other extracurricular groups also maintained online meetings with their sponsor keeping that critical sense of connection with their students.
Q: What other issues need to be addressed?
A: High school sports should be allowed to continue if the safety measures are being followed. The only way any return to school or sports will be successful is if the staff, students and parents are honest and responsible.
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: From what has been shared on the district website, online parent forum meetings and email communications, there is a plan to safely and effectively conduct a reduced day schedule in the spring.