Shawn Broadfield: 2023 Candidate for School District 95 Board Member


Town: Laske Zurich

Age on Election Day: 61

Occupation: Retired Insurance Executive

Employer: Self-employed

Previous offices held: None


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 feel with any effective oversight board, bringing new voices into the process is good for the community. I am a married father of 5 in district 95, so my passion as a parent is strong. I am an established business leader and knowing that our school district consumes the largest portion of our resident's property taxes, I want to ensure that every dollar is being used in an efficient and impactful way. I will provide the administration an experienced voice as district 95 enters the implementation of our new strategy. My network as a Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and experience as a board member leader of Urban Initiatives provides a network of ideas and support. The issue of safety in the learning environment continues to stress our resources, impact our students, and constrain our budget. As I have entered my next phase of life, my commitment in time, experience, and network can bring it all together for my community as a member of District 95 Board of Education.

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

A: We are an oversight board in district 95. Our job is to ask good questions, represent the community voice, and provide guidance to the administration. We need to continue to broaden our curriculum choices, ensure the community lens is provided, and enable options in this increasingly competitive landscape for our students. We will all help implement the new strategic plan.

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

A: Our student test scores are good and improving in most student categories. But we are challenged and have much more work to do with our lower income student category as well as the math category, and we also need to be more competitive with our peer groups. I believe it starts early with math, science, reading, and writing skills. We need to continue to broaden our curriculum choices. Not all learners go to college. Some will go into a trade. Some need additional supports but most if not, all need new contemporary skills to be prepared for a career. Advance placement, trades, transition placement, and new learner skills need to be expanded and made available. Provide a solid foundation and then choice as we build a continuum of skill development for our students.

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: Any board member's role should be as a collaborative leader and effective decision-maker; seeking input and points of view from all perspectives, and then through discussion and good debate look for compromise and common ground in decision-making. As a board member, and representing the community, we must listen to our constituents and consider alternatives, but we have to be effective communicators on those decisions back to the community.

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: Public health is important. Student and teacher engagement is also important. But not everyone is impacted the same. I rely on data to make decisions. And it changes as new information becomes available. The first stage of the COVID pandemic we didn't know much. But as more information becomes available, we need to be able to pivot and consider what that new information is telling us. As COVID progressed we knew that younger children were not as impacted as older people. We learned the efficacy of vaccines and people's choice not to get one. New therapeutics were being developed. We also learned that our students potentially were getting a less effective instruction remotely. I believe data, changing information, choice, effective communication, and the ability to pivot are crucial in making timely, and appropriate decisions going forward.

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: Recently, I was the Governance chair of the Urban Initiatives board where we set board policy as well as some business policy (we were a "working" board). My experience with Urban Initiatives was to ensure that policy was set to include board perspectives, administration input, as well as legal requirements. My leadership style is collaborative, listening, and inclusive. The ability to think creatively, critically, and decisively were qualities I brought to the role. Being inclusive and providing leadership to gain alignment and then act, was the process of leadership I used, and I feel it would bring effectiveness to our board.

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

A: I am a father of five in the district (two have graduated). My broad-based experience, my network of support, and my commitment and proven passion for our student's success also sets me apart. As a Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago, I can tap into a passionate network of civic minded people like me. My past experiences with Urban Initiatives as a board member and as a working member serving their mission where we use the power of sport and play to empower Chicago's youth to achieve academic success, develop social-emotional skills, and build social capital will provide a unique perspective for the board. My business background in finance will ensure diligent use of our community dollars. My strategy background, helping businesses to operationalize their ideas will give the administration leadership in how to implement our new district strategy. I have been a sports coach in our community over the past 10 years, giving the board a unique perspective on today's youth.

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

A: I have two children in elementary school. Recess is an important part of their day. I have seen the impact on social emotional learning skills in action with Urban Initiatives using sport and play as a basis. We do it through structured recess programs, and eventually broad base it to high school programming. The approach includes parents, community, students, teachers to make it happen. I think if we want to have an operational impact on SEL, we can better start where our students experience it most: at recess.

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