Ammar Mirza Rizki: 2023 Candidate for Northbrook/Glenview District 30 school board
Age on Election Day: 46
Occupation: Financial Executive
Employer: The Barack Obama Foundation
Previous offices held: Current member of District 30 School Board (elected)
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 a second term for District 30 School Board, so that I can continue to build on the progress we have made over the past 4 years. From tackling COVID 19, to upgrading our facilities to hiring a new superintendent, the Board has been proactively working with all stakeholders to ensure we are getting the best possible educational outcomes for our kids. With the upgrades in place, it's now time to double down
on our investment and maximize our education outcomes for all our kids in a fiscally responsible manner. A second term will allow me to ensure we can achieve that for our community.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: The curriculum we follow is firstly based on State law. Beyond that it is important for the Board to reflect on the community's voice and have a thoughtful discussion around curriculum related matters, while balancing those with best practices.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: No specific issues. However, the Board did make Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a strategic goal a couple of years ago and since then our Administrators have been diligently working on incorporating those values in our curriculum design and other aspects of the District's management. Another reason why I am running for a second term, which would allow me to see this important work continue.
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: We must follow State law first when it comes policies or curriculum. Beyond that it is important to reflect the voice of our community and ensure everyone feels like they have been heard before making any decisions.
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 District handled COVID-19 as well as possible. In fact, while it was controversial at the time, we were one of the few districts in the State that opened full time for our elementary school kids, who needed the in person learning the most. Beyond that, we also handled the mask situation extremely well, by following CDC guidelines on one hand and balancing all the views regarding masking in our community. As result of this approach, we avoided any confrontations that unfortunately, some of the other districts experienced. If there is another outbreak, we will take the same approach of using data and public health guidelines, while balancing all our stakeholders' views. We will continue improve on our communications, which can always be better and ensure we spend wisely on resources needed to continue our mitigation efforts, while allowing for a safe learning environment for our staff and kids.
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 incumbent Board member and through my professional experiences, I have had a lot of experience working in group settings to determine policy and/or strategy. The first thing is to listen to all points of views regarding a particular matter. Once I know those views, then I determine what best practices are and what other similarly situated organizations are doing, along with what potential costs and administrative burden may be incurred to implement a policy. By reviewing those elements, we can balance how best to come with effective policy and then ensure there is a strong communication plan to socialize it with all relevant stakeholders. Using this approach, we can produce effective decisions/actions for our Board that is practical, cost effective and reflect stakeholder buy in.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I believe my passion for education and professional expertise, when combined with my collaborative approach to problem solving and management, has been an asset to the District 30 Board for the past four years. If reelected, I will continue to use that same passion, expertise, and approach to govern the district's management in my second term as well.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: Improve financial literacy for our middle schoolers, so that they become better stewards of their finances as they grow up.