Marc Piszkiewicz: 2023 Candidate for Warren Township High School District 121 board member
Age on Election Day: 46
Occupation: Electrical Engineer
Employer: Baxter Healthcare Corporation
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 believe in the mission of public education. I am a parent of two WTHS students. At WTHS, the range of academic and extracurricular opportunities for students is amazing, and I want to see these opportunities expanded for all students in the district. I supported the June 2022 referendum by volunteering with YesWTHS because I believe keeping opportunities open for our kids will enhance our kids' and our district's future. I believe the board can fulfill the promises of the referendum by addressing deferred maintenance, expanding teacher and staff levels to be in line with our peers in Lake County, scrutinizing operating expenses, and finding other money-saving opportunities. I believe the best decisions are made through collaboration and consensus. I believe in listening to experts, following data, asking questions, and avoiding groupthink. I will make informed decisions for the best outcomes for our kids and foster an environment of inclusion for all students and parents.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: I believe the school board should listen to education experts when setting curriculum. The board needs to ensure the curriculum sets students up for success after graduation, no matter what path they choose. Beyond test scores, college admissions rates, and other statistics, the board needs to listen for student and parent feedback when they say, "I wish I learned that in school."
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: As a parent of two Warren Township High School students, I'm very happy with the District 121 curriculum. I feel like my children have both received a well-rounded education where ideas aren't censored or restricted.
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: Every generation has its moral panics and culture war issues. My generation had the Parent's Music Resource Center and Tipper Gore. Today's controversies bear little substantive difference from my high school days. I see my role as being a voice of reason. There's no leadership if one is swayed by a few loud voices making claims that aren't an accurate depiction of reality.
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: What we've learned is that lies and fiction have hindered our ability to keep COVID-19 from spreading and to get as many people vaccinated as possible. Sadly, we've seen many of our own neighbors put their self- interests above others, interpreting public health policy as an infringement of their rights. That is simply not the case. This is not an issue of liberty. It is an issue of caring for all students, as well as teachers and staff. Going forward, the school board should continue to heed expert advice and act in the best interest of students, teachers, staff, and their families. If the outcome is fewer people getting sick, that's a win for everyone.
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: As an electrical engineer, I've worked to solve highly complex technical problems while collaborating with suppliers, manufacturing, management, and other engineering disciplines. This requires understanding diverse viewpoints across a wide range of ages, experience, culture, languages, and geographies. My approach to solving any problem is to understand the issue, identify the symptoms, causes, and aggravating factors, and then reach a consensus for all stakeholders involved as the solution.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I want to give back to the school district that has given our family so much. I am not a career politician; I won't run for reelection in four years. I am an electrical engineer who truly values the education my kids have received. I want to bring a fresh set of eyes and a new voice to a school board that needs parents like me who are passionate and have no agenda other than finding solutions that are best for our futures - our kids.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: District 121 excels in many areas, but one area where we seem to struggle is transparent communication. For example, in the run-up to the June 2022 election, comments were made on social media with regards to the solar panel field at the Almond Campus, the property on Stearns School Road, as well as budget and financial numbers often cited out of context. The district does update information on their website regularly, but it is not easy to find and reference. I'd love to see the district's main point of communication audited and FAQs added to aid parents on how our finances work, specific to funding mechanisms, budgets, and expenditures, in a more intuitive, easy-to-navigate manner. In recent board meetings, district staff presented information about their areas and the challenges they face. These presentations should be posted more prominently on the site to better inform residents what their tax dollars pay for and how it ultimately helps our kids.