Monika Penksa-Rossi: 2023 candidate for Park Ridge-Niles District 64 School Board, 4-year term
Town: Park Ridge
Age on Election Day: 52
Occupation: Chiropractic physician
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: It is my belief that education is very important in developing children and their futures. I want to be able to provide community leadership and act as an advocate. My motivation is to develop well rounded individuals to be able to deal with various life issues and challenges.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: The school board collaborated with the community to improve student achievement in the local public schools, monitoring curriculum to ensure that each school is teaching students relevant material and measuring the progress of the students from all backgrounds. The goal is for students to learn, grow and prepare for their futures.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: I believe the COVID virus has had a tremendous negative effect on this young generation. Challenging learning styles made it truly clear that everyone does not learn the same way. This was a difficult time and we tried the best to continue with education. I feel that we need to take some steps back, regroup, and go back to the basics.
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: I feel as a board member you need to listen to each argument and come to the proper conclusion based upon what the children ultimately need. You have to set aside political views and opinions and resolve the issue on what is in their best interest.
Q: Indecisiveness on the board held up decisions on important projects, including all-day kindergarten and building expansions? What would you do to end those logjams and delays and to get the board making the decisions it needs to make in timely fashion?
A: I would openly convey the importance of the subject matter at hand and remind my colleagues of what our ultimate purpose is. The needs of the children within the district are paramount. I would also keep an open dialogue with parents, encouraging their voices and support on key issues.
Q: The community and board have been at odds about COVID policies, especially masking. If the pandemic worsens, those rules could return. Did you support the state-mandated orders that students should be masked on campus and practice social distancing? Why or why not?
A: I did support the state-mandated orders that students should be masked on campus and practice social distancing. Children need to be in the classroom setting to maximize their learning potential and continue their social development skills.
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 COVID-19 pandemic taught us we are not immune to future infectious diseases. We need to learn from the past experiences and be able to make better informed decisions. It is important to listen and be logical, while continually focusing on maintaining your physical health. We have to be cognizant of individuals that are immune compromised and have underlying health issues. We need to be aware and concerned for all.
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: I was a former board member of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and gala co-chair. My style is to listen to each argument and research the information and be able to resolve the issues for the benefit of the children.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: My availability and my willingness to fight for the issues.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: Clear and collaborative relationships, which help to keep improvement efforts moving forward.