Glencoe, Elections

4 of 5 Wilmette D39 School Board candidates face 7 questions at League of Women Voters forum

Five candidates, including two incumbents, are running for four available seats on the Wilmette District 39 Board of Education.

Two other incumbents, Mark Steen and Ellen Sternweiler, are not seeking reelection.

Board President Lisa Schneider-Fabes and Jon Cesaretti are seeking second terms, while Bonnie Kim, Anne Hart and Jane Hong Shissler are newcomers.

UPDATE MARCH 26: Hong Shissler told The Record she is not actively running for the position and has asked voters not to vote for her.

Profiles of the candidates were submitted to and published online by the the League of Women Voters, which also hosted a virtual candidate forum in tandem with the Wilmette Public Library on Saturday, March 20.

The league recorded and published a video of the forum.

Below is a summarized transcript of that forum, in which four of the candidates answered seven questions in an order selected by the league’s moderator.

Hong Shissler — an attorney with a Chicago investment firm, according to LinkedIn — did not participate in the forum and did not submit a candidate profile.

SHORTCUTS
INTRODUCTIONS: Lisa Schneider-Fabes | Bonnie Kim | Anne Hart | Jon Cesaretti

ROLE OF SCHOOL BOARD: Lisa Schneider-Fabes | Bonnie Kim | Anne Hart | Jon Cesaretti

COVID-19: Lisa Schneider-Fabes | Bonnie Kim | Anne Hart | Jon Cesaretti

POST-COVID CHALLENGES: Lisa Schneider-Fabes | Bonnie Kim | Anne Hart | Jon Cesaretti

TOP EDUCATION PRIORITY: Lisa Schneider-Fabes | Bonnie Kim | Anne Hart | Jon Cesaretti

STANDARDIZED TESTING: Lisa Schneider-Fabes | Bonnie Kim | Anne Hart | Jon Cesaretti

DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION: Lisa Schneider-Fabes | Bonnie Kim | Anne Hart | Jon Cesaretti

TOP 3 PROJECTS/GOALS: Lisa Schneider-Fabes | Bonnie Kim | Anne Hart | Jon Cesaretti

SUMMATIONS: Lisa Schneider-Fabes | Bonnie Kim | Anne Hart | Jon Cesaretti


Introductions

Schneider-Fabes: I’m running for my second term in District 39. I have three children, all who have been or are in the district. I’ve lived in Wilmette for more than 10 years and have been active since the day we arrived. Professionally, I’m an independent consultant that provides strategic planning program design and project management services to executive clients in the nonprofit and public sectors. In 2017, I ran because I wanted to give back to my community. I care deeply about education and thought my professional experience would be an asset to the board. I’m running again for all those reasons but now have another more significant reason: consistency. The stakes are high for our young people right now, and having consistency on our board is important, especially in the first few years of a superintendent’s tenure. And as we continue to navigate the pandemic, veteran board members provide the stability and institutional knowledge needed for a high-functioning board. During my first term in office I demonstrated my ongoing commitment to the district and our village. For the last two years as president I’ve demonstrated my leadership abilities. We’ve accomplished a lot in that time. We’ve launched KEEP 39, we’ve hired a new superintendent, we’ve overseen the COVID-19 response, and ensured a focus on equity and inclusion.

Kim: I’m excited to be here today and to be given this opportunity to share my qualifications and views for the District 39 schools. I was a criminal defense public defender for several years and also worked for the Illinois Human Rights Commission to enforce the state’s anti-discrimination laws. Since having children I have primarily been a stay-at-home mother, which has afforded me the opportunity to volunteer extensively at McKenzie (Elementary School), which has ranged from (working) with first-graders to editing the yearbook, running the fine arts program and participating in a variety show, which is a big annual fundraising event. I am a huge supporter of public education, and its commitment to serving and teaching all children and recognize that public education is a shared responsibility. Over the years I have attended the District 39 School Board meetings, as a parent when I was interested in an issue before the board. And in the last several months I have attended all the school board meetings to educate myself on the issues procedures and makeup of the board. I am confident that I will add value to the board with my skills and perspective and strengthen the relationship between the district and the community it serves by working towards greater understanding and better communication. I support District 39’s commitment to excellence and education, which extends beyond academics to include social emotional learning, physical wellbeing, self-reliance, leadership resilience and good citizenship. Our children deserve nothing less.

Hart: By way of background, I have three children in District 39 schools boy-girl twins in second grade at Central and a son in sixth grade at Highcrest. We moved to Wilmette from New York City shortly after our twins were born.There were so many aspects of Wilmette that were appealing to us and continue to appeal to us but our first priority was absolutely defined as a school district with an excellent academic platform, and also differentiated resources. When we moved, I decided to take time off from my career. I had previously worked in brand management at Quaker Oats in downtown Chicago which is now PepsiCo, then at Welch’s, and lastly at the National Basketball Association in New York City. I have a great deal of experience with research analysis, financial management and working across a very wide range of stakeholders. I’ve been actively involved in our community. This includes serving on the board of our preschool, teaching Sunday school and years of service on Central’s executive PTA board. I am currently the president of the Central PTA, and as president I’ve enjoyed meeting families throughout our school community, but across the district as well, and having an opportunity to be involved in district level initiatives. This past summer I served on the District 39 taskforce which was put in place to help kids return safely to school. Being part of this initiative gave me a much greater insight into the role and the importance of our School Board, as well as the talent and commitment of the District 39 community, overall, I’m proud to be part of District 39, we have an excellent school district, but we cannot be complacent. We need to challenge ourselves, and set high standards.

Cesaretti: I am running for reelection to the board. I’ve been on the board since 2017 and am the current chair of the finance committee. I have two children currently in the district and I’m running again primarily in order to help maintain continuity of leadership on this important board. With Mark Steen ending his eighth year on the board, I think it’s important that at least two members of this seven-member board should continue for a second term in order to effectively transition leadership to the next generation of board members. My day job is that I’m a tax partner of a public accounting firm, where I lead our firm’s Chicago office’s state and local tax practice, which is about 45 professionals. I’m very proud of what our district has accomplished over the past year and before. I’m also proud of the board, which in my opinion is high-functioning and very supportive of our administrative team. I think the board’s most significant accomplishments prior to COVID were one to maintain a conservative approach to financial management. We basically drove up our reserves, which we were really happy we had, and in recruiting and supporting our excellent superintendent, who I can’t believe only started 20 months ago. Feels longer. To go in without both of these prior accomplishments, our district would have had a much tougher time navigating this crisis and I think, navigating successfully through it. I think my main contributions to the board are with respect to helping address financial issues. I also tried to take a constructive and informed approach to every issue that comes before the board.

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How do you see your role as a School Board member and whom do you represent?

KIM: So I think that the role of a school board member is multi-folded. So, first and foremost, I think that we need to ensure the highest quality of education for our children. And we need to recognize that we’re representative of the community. As the bridge between the District 39 administration and the community, effective transparent and respectful communication in both directions is critical. And that really is the job of the School Board. And I think that it’s really important for school board member to base her decision-making on as much information as possible. It’s important to research every issue by looking at the impact that any decision will have on our children, and our community to look at what other districts are doing, brainstorming to identify the best- and worst-case scenarios, and to listen to the experts and District 39 stakeholders. And finally I think that a school board member needs to work well with the school board members. So if you have a view on an issue, you should work hard to advocate for your position but at the end of the day, respect the process and support the decision of the board.

HART: The board’s role as I see it is to provide guidance and support for our administration in order to provide our students, our children with the best possible foundation in this window of time for success at New Trier, in college or wherever, wherever their path may lead them. The board adopts policies to manage our schools, and this can extend from the hiring of a superintendent to approving the budgets, to transportation all of these policies are critical day to day to run a successful district, and they’re critical in the long-term success of our children. And I don’t take that lightly. My role is to listen to learn and to continually be an advocate for our children and for the district at large.

CESARETTI: I really like what Anne just said about listening and learning. I agree. I think that’s primarily the role, and also to realize that you’re part of a team of public trustees basically, and you’re in charge of a really important institution for the community that — I always like numbers so — has almost 600 employees, 3,500 kids, and a $55-to-$90 million budget depending on what you’re counting. So that’s my answer.

SCHNEIDER-FABES: I think the role of a board member is several fold. The first is we need to hire and maintain a superintendent. We need to approve the budget and maintain the physical wellbeing of the district, and we approve policy. And when we approve policy on the board, we always have this dance-floor-balcony analogy, where the dance floor’s daily operations and the balcony’s oversight, and the board always belongs on the balcony. And so we’re always as a board, checking ourselves, is the decision that we’re looking at on the dance floor or the balcony? And then a really important role that we have is we are the liaison between the community and the district. We are supposed to be listening to hear the voice of the community and reflect that to the district. And finally, you asked, kind of, who do we represent. We represent everyone in the district. Both parents, students, stakeholders, the administration. And we have a duty to provide a high-quality education to all students.

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How did the board and administration do in the last year with COVID challenges, and what, if anything, will you do differently going forward?

HART: So I was selected for the District 39 taskforce during the summer of 2020 and the taskforce, as I mentioned, was charged with safely returning the children to school, as well as providing a quality remote option for families. And I felt that District 39 very efficiently mobilized a team of consistent constituents across our community. I think that one of the major successes was pulling in community members who had not previously engaged in district initiatives, and I saw and appreciated the firsthand benefit of this and think that we should look to collaborate like that on initiatives, and on our strategic plan going forward. But that was not the only success. Safety for students and staff was at the forefront of every discussion. The flexible learning models provided families with options. District 39 preemptively secured substitute teachers to help minimize disruption. They were proactive in researching screening and testing for students and staff, and I witnessed ongoing collaboration with administrators, the board and teachers, which was excellent to see. That said, it’s a balancing act. Nothing about COVID has been perfect, but I think that the district has done a really great job to this point and I applaud them for looking to get the five through eight kids back to school, this spring, as well.

CESARETTI: So, I tell the story every once in a while because there were a bunch of newspaper articles, I think in the Tribune, about school board members of communities that failed to adapt to COVID quickly, and how the school board members were looking for new homes, maybe outside of Illinois. I am not that person. I’m very proud of how the school district has gotten through COVID, and, and I’m proud of the board. I’m going to get my dates wrong, but back in April and May we, in no uncertain terms and I think unanimously, told the superintendent and the administrative team that we will spend what it takes to maximize in-person learning. And we just kept saying it. So I think that that says it all.

SCHNEIDER-FABES: COVID has hurt everyone: administrators, teachers, parents, students, and board members. We’ve all had to figure out a new way to live, work, play and learn, and it’s been hard, really hard, as board members. We were acutely aware of the collective and individual toll. I listened closely to your comments at board meetings and read all correspondence. If I could change anything, it would be to create situations for each child to address their particular issues, struggles and pain. But that was not possible and nothing we could do could have addressed the loss and suffering from a year of dealing with COVID. But here’s what we did do: We defined north stars. We put safety first. Then we prioritized maximizing in-person instruction. We created committees and taskforces. We hired experts. They met, they met and they met again. They helped us shape our response to providing instruction in the time of COVID. The majority of the decisions we made had no clear answer, but looking back we made good choices. Because if you judge using the most important indicator, we batted it out of the park: No one died. No student, teacher administrator or family member of a student died from contracting COVID at school. That doesn’t mean there isn’t suffering or that our choices seemed unfair or wrong to some, but I know this: I’m proud of our decisions to date and will continue to make decisions in accordance with our north stars.

KIM: Like many of you viewers who have school-aged children, I attended school board meetings last summer and anxiously awaited emails to get clarity on whether schools will be open for my children who like yours thrive best in in-school learning. And I know that the school board and administration fully agree that children’s education and wellbeing required in-school learning. So when I consider how the school board handled all that it really comes down to whether I think that the administration was doing everything it could to make in-school learning happen, given that there was a life-threatening pandemic and no directives on a state or federal level as to what was safer to keep kids in school or at home. As a parent, I saw what the school was doing, setting up a taskforce that candidate Hart served on, following IDPH safety guidelines, transforming our classrooms and curriculum to accommodate safe in-class learning, and offering different learning options for families based on their decisions on what was best for their families. The district also worked hard to enable schools to adapt based on new information on the spread of the virus and shifting infection rate in our community. I am very proud that our schools are currently offering daily in-class instruction to our elementary children at an almost prepandemic level, a hybrid model to our middle school and junior high students at the maximum extent possible currently, and remote learning as an option for all children, and I commend the administration for working hard over the past few weeks to devise a plan to get our Highcrest and junior high students on campus.

BACK TO SHORTCUTS

What is the single biggest challenge facing District 39 after this school year?

CESARETTI: I think the biggest thing after the pandemic is getting people back to normal, you know, and from my perspective, it’s making sure that the kids are where they should be educationally. So there was learning loss over the COVID pandemic that we do what needs to be done to make sure we supplement their learning ability and learning opportunities to get them there. So that’s one; I’m sticking to one.

SCHNEIDER-FABES: I’m going to concur with candidate Cesaretti. Our schools have been safe, but we know that all of us have been hurt socially and emotionally by the pandemic and that even our most resilient students have likely suffered somewhat academically. And so we need to continue to assess the impact of COVID on students, staff and the administration and execute on a recovery plan for all stakeholder groups.

KIM: I am really excited about this new District 39 new long-term strategic plan, which is going to be the big challenge over the next year. This was the brainchild of Dr. (Kari) Cremascoli last year, which was a really great initiative for a new superintendent, and it was just delayed this past year. And it’s a way for the staff, parents and community to have a direct impact on our schools. The long-term strategic plan seems to have the community’s help to identify our core values and our core goals, which the administration will then use as a roadmap and each year assess where we are on the map and what we need to do to stay on course. We are currently at the early stages of the process and have the community review committee, and an outside company working to facilitate the process. Last year New Trier implemented a 10-year strategic plan with over 5,000 people participating in the surveys that extended to six areas: academics, students wellbeing, school climate, leadership, the greater community and financial responsibilities. I hope that our district strategic plan will be just as broad in scope and have as many participants involved. I look forward to monitoring our progress each year to ensure that we meet our long-term goals that will extend beyond any of our time here. Although the strategic plan has been delayed, I think the timing right now is really fortuitous because now more than ever we will benefit from the unifying effect of coming together as a community, and realizing we have common goals for our children.

HART: I’m going to take a little bit from everyone here, because I agree. I think that the strategic plan that we are about to embark upon will include the building blocks for the next three to five years so I think that’s critically important but also part of that strategic plan needs to be how we are going to recover from COVID and any recovery plans that need to be put in place. I think that coming out of COVID, we need to be transparent. I think our community performs better overall when we all feel that we’re in the know and we understand. So we need to engage as much as possible. We need to look at test scores, both achievement and growth, and clearly define where our greatest needs are, establish goals and plans that we can measure against and communicate clearly to our stakeholders. I also feel that in addition to the academic piece, there’s a social-emotional aspect here that we’re going to need to deal with our children having lived through and experienced something that we never thought possible, and coming out of COVID, we must be prepared to look at their social-emotional health and expedite any, any plans or initiatives to help them all feel connected and supported.

BACK TO SHORTCUTS

What is your top educational priority for district 39 students and what is your plan to achieve it?

SCHNEIDER-FABES: My top educational priority is an increased reliance on the use of data to drive student performance. The board and administration have increased their use of data on all levels, and this practice drives needed changes in response to performance in student trends. The district is committed to continuing to expand the use of data and transparency, in regards to performance data. This is going to help us understand where to focus in the next year, as we address the post-COVID world. And we’re also going to start addressing it in-depth immediately as part of the strategic-planning process, where we have an in-depth data retreat, which is really going to set the stage for how we address student performance from a data perspective moving forward.

KIM: A top educational priority for me would be to improve our school climate. Just last month, the school board reaffirmed its 2017 statement of inclusion, which embraces diversity and commits the district to provide a safe and equitable learning environment that fosters a mindset of empathy, respect and belonging for all students and staff. I’d like to learn more about where we are now and what steps the administration is taking to provide that safe and equitable learning environment. This past year, our sixth through eighth grade students were assessed on social and emotional wellbeing. And they scored in the 75th percentile nationwide for school climate, and in the 50th percentile for sense of belonging. To me, these are really alarming numbers. Also this past fall, a group of eighth-graders asked the administration for education on racial and gender slurs and overall inclusion of others. From the perspective of the students, it’s clear that we have work to do to make each other feel that they belong, so that they can go about their business of learning with the same benefits of security that other children enjoy, and the school board has great resources that we can lean on such as the anti-defamation League, and our local group HEROES, which focuses on eliminating racism in our schools.

HART: To answer from an academic standpoint, I think that we need to look at and focus on growth. I believe in data as well and trends and comparisons. I think it’s important for us to define with our community who are competitive set is. I know that we’ve looked at MAP scores and said, ‘Well we can’t compare ourselves to national averages.’ We should set a higher bar. And so what is that bar and how do we come to agreement with the community on how those comparisons should be made — MAP just being one measure of the measures of success. And then again, as I mentioned, coming out of COVID really taking a look at scores and growth and achievement. Over the past year and a half and where we really need to focus to get the kids to where they should be going forward and to help track and guide their improvement.

CESARETTI: So I agree with the other candidates and I don’t have a whole lot to add. I think that one of the things that was new to me as a board member was this metric of growth versus achievement in general, and getting that measure of achievement is something that is fairly straightforward but to measure the changing growth over time is also important, because you have high achievers that you also want to grow at a quick rate just like mid-level achievers and the whole population of students. So that focus has been important to me and the community and I think that is for sure my top priority. Although I do really like where Bonnie is going with the social emotional aspects and, and generally agree with the other comments.

BACK TO SHORTCUTS

What are your views on standardized testing, and how is District 39 doing?

KIM: I am not yet in a position to assess the merits of MAP testing or IR testing. I do know that there is a lot of discussion about the usefulness of standardized tests as a way of measuring future success as more colleges now are eliminating the use standardized tests as entrance exams. But what I can say is that as a school board member, if I had concerns about the effectiveness of our academic programs or the necessity of standardized testing, I would raise that issue with the administration and ask them to prepare a response. For example, in its last or mid-year report on academic progress, the district last week presented data on each grades achievement and growth in reading and math. It identified a few groups where scores were low and needed improvement. A community member using the same data presented a very different picture. So we have the same data but interpreted very differently. And as a school board member, I would want an explanation for that and possibly an outside expert to interpret the data to ensure that we understand the results. In fact I think review of our academic programs and how we measure their success is an important priority for our new strategic plan.

HART: I believe standardized tests are important. They are important as one measure of a student’s growth. But we also must consider many other aspects: curriculum-based assessments, classroom performance, feedback from our teachers — all of these need to roll up into determining a student’s level of achievement and growth. And it’s the whole picture that really helps us to decide if there’s any need for intervention or differentiated instruction that we can then plan for, measure and report. I also am a believer and supporter of growth through differentiation. I am pleased with the district that I have one child who qualified for summer school this summer. I have another child who is qualified to take testing to get into New Trier math. So we’re experiencing both ends of the spectrum here and I’m just grateful for the resources at all of those levels.

CESARETTI: I have mixed feelings about standardized testing. I think it’s a necessary evil, and I have a few guard rails around where I would put it which is keep it to a minimum, and that’s primarily because class time is so precious, right? I don’t want to waste class time with excessive testing. And also, in my view, also use the data that you’re getting and use it well. So I think those tend to be my comments around standardized testing and otherwise leave it to the experts.

SCHNEIDER-FABES: I concur with candidate Cesaretti. These tests are just one measure of student performance, and the value is it benchmarks against our peers, both our New Trier feeder schools and our peers around the state. That’s a good thing. But we really don’t get the results of the state standardized testing in time to inform instruction during the school year. So I really wish we were spending less time doing it.

BACK TO SHORTCUTS

District 39 has an articulated statement of inclusion. What do you think the board’s priorities should be on diversity, equity and inclusion?

HART: When I look at District 39’s mission, we cannot accomplish this without fully embracing our statement of inclusion. And I know that statement of inclusion was just recently reaffirmed … and I think that the statement of inclusion needs to become an organic part of our academic experience and I believe it needs to start at the K-4 level, creating that compassionate culture that acknowledges and embraces differences required for students to thrive long-term, regardless of where their individual path might take them. I am PTA president currently, working with other PTA presidents to define a new diversity, equity and inclusion position that will sit on the PTA Executive Board at each school in the district. And this does give me a greater appreciation of the importance of our leadership on this team, some practical considerations and challenges to implementing it, and the need for thoughtful perspectives. Also, the need for what we’re teaching, starting to teach kids at kindergarten to go all the way up and be consistent throughout high school. I think I’m running out of time but I do believe that all board members must consistently demonstrate and seek to foster an authentic environment of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

CESARETTI: I think it was important stuff to draft and redraft the statement, and I think we all take it to heart and I think the district has taken it to heart and has done a lot of work around this and will continue to and I think this issue of diversity, equity inclusion is something that we’re going to incorporate into our everyday operating values. So, as an elected board member as, frankly, a trustee of a great institution, I think it’s incumbent on the board members to model their behavior in accordance with that statement.

SCHNEIDER-FABES: I’m really proud of our statement on inclusion. We owe every student a high-quality education. And if they don’t feel included and welcomed in our community that impacts their ability to learn. As candidate Kim mentioned, student surveys show that we have room to improve and the board and administration has been very intentional about working on this. I fully expect that this will be one of the goals in the strategic plan, and I look to having the community help us determine how to best approach this. I wanted to just list some examples about how we’ve been working on this. The board has a deep commitment and we fold it into our ongoing practice. We’ve had a book group and study. We asked the district how they are managing this month. We made Juneteenth a district holiday. On the school level, the administration has addressed this in assemblies, the social emotional curriculum. They’ve had a focus on adults and the culture adults can create, and teachers have a range of tools and continue to get more tools to uplift and celebrate differences. I love that the PTA launched diversity inclusion teams that are parent-led. And I’m really inspired by how our students are stepping up and speaking out, and they feel that they are supported enough to actually raise issues and be heard.

KIM: I think I’ve addressed this topic pretty thoroughly before, but I just wanted to reiterate the fact that in 2017 I fully supported the board and its statement of inclusion. And also my background is in public interest law and has been about ensuring the rights of members of our society who don’t have a strong voice, ensuring that the convicted criminal gets a fair trial, and ensuring that somebody who is discriminated against by a landlord or employer or even a school based on race, nationality or another protected class has a voice. Our children also have a voice as I mentioned earlier, am I think our school board must strive to protect it.

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What are the top three projects or goals that you will prioritize during your term?

CESARETTI: As a school board member, this is such a high-functioning district that you tend to get very involved and emotionally into what’s going on. And I think that what I’ve watched, other school board members come off the school board and spend a lot of time trying to convey what they know to the new members of the board and they also spend a lot of time recruiting people who would contribute, and I think that’s something that’s gonna be my No. 1 priority. As far as other priorities, I have been practicing state and local tax for 25 years, and I know a little bit about financial statements and government accounting, and I’m going to spend a lot of time trying to simplify; though, I’m not sure that all is achievable, but definitely convey as much as I know to other members of the board. We do have an excellent financial manager that we have a lot of confidence in, and three, living in Wilmette, it’s an influential community, I think there are things we can do to help out on a state level, as far asissues.

SCHNEIDER-FABES: I’m just going to answer what I think the most critical issues are over the next two years, because we really need to focus on a post-COVID response. There’s just the regular duties of the superintendent, the policies and the finances, which I talked about before. But the other three we’ve also talked about before, which is kind of indicative of their importance: The first is the recovery plan that I mentioned; the second is student performance, using data and drilling down and how we can improve performance; and the third is that focus on climate and culture. We need to really make sure that we have a welcoming community for everyone.

KIM: I’ve already talked about the strategic plan that I’m really excited about. And I’m working on improving our school culture and for me the third priority would be to ensure that District 39 offers our children the benefits of full-day kindergarten as soon as it can. So last year construction at two of our elementary schools enabled kindergarten enrichment to begin, which was a fee-based extension offered on top of our half-day program. And at its last meeting, the school board approved construction for additional classrooms at McKenzie and Romona. So that kindergarten enrichment can be offered at all four of our elementary schools, which I think is really great news. And I commend the board for that. The end goal in building the classrooms and the KEEP program is to one day move to full-day kindergarten, which to me is really important because we’re the only district in the New Trier Township not to offer full-day kindergarten, which puts our students at a disadvantage, and also for parents who stayed home for their children’s earlier years, to be able to go back to work.

HART: When I think about the top three priorities I think my No. 1 priority as a candidate that is running for the first time is to listen and learn from our community. I have volunteered for numerous, numerous positions throughout Wilmette in our schools and so I think I have learned a lot there. I have appreciated learning a lot is I am running for this position and talking to others, be it friends, neighbors, candidates running for other positions, other elected positions in Wilmette, and I hope to focus on that and continue to learn. I have only scratched the process at this point. And my second priority would be the strategic plan as I see that to be a roadmap that clearly defines where our district as a whole wants to go over the next three to five years, and as I mentioned I think it is incredibly important to get as many stakeholders involved in the process as we can. And third, which will also probably be part of the strategic plan, is COVID recovery. We’ve talked about that but any academic or social-emotional challenges that our students are facing specific to COVID is a top priority for me as well.

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SUMMATIONS

CESARETTI: From my perspective, the current board works well and that continuity is important to its continuing success. If I am reelected I would make a significant contribution to that continuity. Aside from contributing to the continuity, I have leadership. I bring a significant background in financial issues and tax issues facing the district. And I also work well with others. I appreciate your time and attention and ask you for your vote.

HART: When I thought about my closing statement for today I asked myself, what am I looking for in a candidate? And the first thing that came to mind was trust, and I realized, wow, this is a really big deal. And I want to tell you you can trust that I am running to give all students the best possible academic experience and foundation for future success, regardless of their destination. You can trust me to be a fiscally responsible steward of our community and resources, and you can trust I will listen to you, I will learn, and thoughtfully serve. I humbly ask you to vote for a Hart.

KIM: I’m running to help our schools provide the best educational opportunities for all of our children so that they have the tools to thrive and be whoever they want to be. I’m excited to work with the administration, board and community and to see where we can take our schools, as we fulfill our district’s mission to teach our children to become creative thinkers, collaborators and socially responsible, compassionate and productive citizens of a global society. Please vote for me.

SCHNEIDER-FABES: I would be honored to serve again, with all the candidates presenting today. I appreciated everyone’s perspectives. When you listened to me today, I hope you take away several things. I will provide consistency on the board, along with candidate Cesaretti. I’ve served on the board for four years — two years as president. I’m committed to Wilmette. I have more than a decade of service to the community. And I’m balanced. I look to understand all points of view and to data to help make decisions. I have the skills commitment and vision for what it takes to be an effective board member these next four years. For these reasons, I ask for your vote.

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Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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