Allen Legutki: 2023 candidate for Villa Park-Lombard Elementary District 45 school board


Town: Villa Park

Age on Election Day: 44

Occupation: Professor

Employer: Benedictine University

Previous offices held: Appointed to Villa Park-Lombard District 45 in 2022


Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?

A: I am honored to serve as a current member of the District 45 board of education, to which I was appointed in March 2022 to complete an unexpired term.

I am seeking election on April 4 so I can serve the students of our community by continuing this important work.

I'm a proud graduate of District 45 and Willowbrook High School, and I am thankful for how both districts prepared me for my studies at Illinois State University (B.M.E., 2000; M.M.E., 2003) and the University of Illinois (Ph.D., 2010), and for nearly 25 years as an educator.

After living, working, and studying in Central Illinois for several years, my family moved back to the District 45 community in 2011, and now have three children enrolled in the district. I am passionate about ensuring that all kids are safe, learn, and grow. I celebrate high-quality, accessible public education, and support our district's outstanding teachers, staff, and administrators in their daily work with our kids.

Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?

A: The board works closely with district administration to ensure that curriculum is developed and evaluated in ways that benefit our children.

As a board member, I believe that my individual responsibility includes staying informed about best practices in education, participating in oversight, as well as responding with suggestions to address curricular needs in our school community.

Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?

A: The board regularly engages in discussions at meetings about curriculum development. Recent discussions have included the format of the first few days of kindergarten, district reading programs, and social and emotional learning programs. I feel that it's essential to continue reviewing the programs we offer in District 45 to best meet our students' needs.

I urge others to view the curriculum updates that can be found in the Board Meeting Summary Archive section of the district website to get a broader sense of the range of curricular programs and discussions in the district.

Q: How do you view your role in confronting policy or curriculum controversies: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents - even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?

A: Leadership needs to have a wide, analytical lens. It would be wise to do all three: provide leadership, give voice, and look to government agencies for information. By having more information before making a decision, rather than less, a person can lead, reflect, and change course if needed. I will continue to do the hard work of digging deep for information, listening, and considering what is being done successfully in other communities.

Q: Concerns are growing regarding a new resurgence of the pandemic. If another massive outbreak of infectious disease occurs, what have we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that will guide your decision making?

A: The pandemic has been an emotional time. Speaking as a parent, I've been reminded that not all kids are alike, and they need different kinds of educational supports when navigating school.

That's certainly true of my three kids, and it's true every time I step into my own classroom and assess the needs of my students. We need to lean on what the schools did well during the pandemic: enhanced technology access, developed new ways of engaging as learners, strengthened community, and distributed meals, to name a few.

Always, but especially in challenging times, we need to provide a high-quality education while continuing to support the well-being of students, teachers, staff, and families.

Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage school district policy? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your school board.

A: In addition to my recent work on the District 45 school board, I have extensive experience in policy development in my career as an educator and through leadership within community organizations. I have experience in revising existing policy and developing new policy, as well as navigating the iterative process of discussion, revision, and approval of those policies. My approach to effective policy development is to prioritize mutual respect, integrity, and clarity, so the outcome is fair, practical, and responsible.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: I have dedicated my adult life to education and service, and I've learned a lot about myself and others by volunteering with school programs, PTA, scouting, community events, team sports, martial arts, booster groups, and other organizations. I'm also tapped into multiple school communities because of my work with preservice teachers throughout the state, and I'm always looking for best practices. I believe that my voice and continued service on the board are an asset to District 45, and I would be honored to serve the next four years on behalf of the children of our community.

Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?

A: We are fortunate to have such a diversity of issues that are discussed in our community, and while there are few issues that are never discussed, I'm interested in equity policy, mental health, safety, leadership, learning communities, and supporting teachers and staff in the District 45 vision of "preparing students to successfully navigate a dynamic world."

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