Francine D'Amico: 2023 candidate for Park Ridge-Niles District 64 School Board, 4-year term
Town: Park Ridge
Age on Election Day:
Employer: Arc Worldwide
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: When we decided to move to Park Ridge, the schools were our main draw. Washington Elementary School had received the National Blue Ribbon Award so we focused our search in that area. Recently, I reviewed the past five years achievement scores in reading and math and they were not what I expected. Our reading and math scores are in the mid 50%. Reading and math are fundamental skills children need to achieve success in their academic journey. I'm running for D64 school board because I think we can do better. As a board member, I would like to work with the Superintendent to create a plan that increases our test scores in writing and math.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: The role of the school board is to establish the vision and goals for the public schools in their district, and they set standards for the performance of schools and superintendents.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: I've heard from quite a few parents who are concerned their child's spelling proficiency and skills are low. I think the curriculum should be reviewed to ensure this need is addressed in a measurable way.
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: My approach working within any group is to be objective, collaborative, respectful and considerate.
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 get the board making the decisions it needs to make in a timely fashion?
A: I can't speak to the specifics regarding the delay in any decision the board has made to date. As with any major decision the board need to make, having all the necessary information available in a timely manner is a critical component to making good decisions.
Q: The community and the 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 believe the board had been working with the Superintendent to adopt COVID policies throughout the pandemic in order to provide clear guidance to the community. As with any decision the board makes, it should be for the benefit of children in the district.
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: A government official has to follow the law. Absent any legal mandates, I will make decisions weighing any evidence of risk to the children versus disruption to their education
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: Fully listening to the viewpoints of others is an important part of working within a group. Understanding the focus of the discussion and providing input that is relevant and informative helps drive the group toward making a decision. I think this approach aligns with the boards current operating principles and when put in practice, leads to effective
actions and decisions by the board.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: As a school board member, my focus will be to work with the other board members, district staff, teachers and parents to develop plans and initiatives that directly relate to increasing academic achievements in reading, math and science across the district. I believe encouraging and inspiring students to strive for academic excellence develops confident students who discover their strengths, embrace learning, achieve personal excellence and demonstrate care for others.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: I have two: 1.) I think the district should email the school board report to parents in the district after every meeting. 2.) I think the school board reports should include slides from all presentations made in public during that meeting.