Melissa Slinn: 2023 candidate for Villa Park-Lombard Elementary District 45 school board


Town: Villa Park

Age on Election Day: 45

Occupation: Speech therapist

Employer: No answer given

Previous offices held: Villa Park-Lombard Elementary District 45 school board since 2015


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 running for reelection to the District 45 school board because I believe in the importance of serving my community. In my time on the school board, many things have been accomplished and I would like to continue to make positive changes in our school district.

My overall motivating factor for service on the school board is to prioritize the needs of the children. I strongly believe that all decisions need to be approached with a "kids first" lens.

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

A: The role of the school board in setting curriculum is to review the work of a committee who has spent countless hours researching and evaluating the options available.

The board should ask questions regarding the ability of the program to meet state standards, the cost of implementation and continued costs associated, as well as the impact of this change on educators.

Once a curriculum is approved, the board should request continual updates on the efficacy of the program. These updates should include current data in addition to data from previous years to get a full picture of the impact of the implementation of any new curricula.

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

A: District 45 has recently adopted new curricula in the areas of Math, Reading and SEL (Social and Emotional Learning). The board must pay close attention to the impact of implementing these new programs. It is important to monitor the effects of changes to curriculum on students, educators, and families alike. I am excited to see the enthusiasm of the children as they receive new materials, continuing to grow in learning, and the opportunities for family involvement in the education of our children.

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: When confronting controversy, regardless of the reason, I prefer to listen to the thoughts and opinions of everyone involved. In my time on the school board, I have had to make decisions that differed from what I thought was best for my own children.

There are times when the board has no choice but to follow the direction of state authorities, however, the board should be willing to listen to the constituents and advocate for what is best for children.

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: In District 45, we have learned that we have the ability to pivot to continue to provide an exceptional education for students and we also know that we have the capacity to help the entire community.

Having been through a pandemic, my decision making will be guided by knowing what worked, what didn't work, and also being open to taking a new approach that may not have been explored in the past.

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 the eight years that I have served on the school board, I have had many opportunities to work with others to make decisions. Prior to my board experience, I had the privilege to participate in several committees where coming to a consensus was necessary. Discussion is very important when determining policy. I prefer to have as much background information on the topic prior to entering the discussion. That said, I also go into the discussion with an open mind, willing to listen to other board members and consider their thoughts and opinions as I make my final decision. One of the school board's responsibilities is to continually review policy and it is important to understand what the current policies are and what they mean for the community. I also find it valuable to understand the procedures that are in place to carry out the policy.

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

A: I feel that I am an excellent candidate to continue serving on the school board because I feel I have the ability to understand the past, the present, and I have the willingness to look toward the future.

I believe it is imperative to have school board members who know and understand the history behind decisions that have been made in the past. It is also crucial to have a solid understanding of where we are currently in order to move forward.

The future is bright for all of our students if we continue to provide them with an exceptional education that prepares them to live in our dynamic world.

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

A: One idea that I feel would better our district is to be able to efficiently communicate to the entire community some of the amazing things that are happening within our schools.

These include topics such as student growth, up to date technology, retention of teachers, etc.

If the community, including those who may not have children in our schools, had a better understanding of our district, they may be more willing to volunteer, participate in activities, or simply share with others about our success stories. With a positive community mindset, all children can learn and grow.

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