Category: District 91

Eric Connor Q&A – Candidate for D91 Board of Eduation

The FPAC reached out to Eric Connor regarding his campaign for the District 91 Board of Education. Below are the questions and answers. Thank you Eric for sharing your thoughts with us!


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Mary Win Connor Q&A – Candidate for D91 Board of Eduation


The FPAC reached out to Mary Win Connor regarding her campaign for the District 91 Board of Education. Below are the questions and answers. Thank you Mary Win for sharing your thoughts with us!

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Kim Rostello Q&A – Candidate for D91 Board of Eduation

The FPAC reached out to Kim Rostello regarding her campaign for the District 91 Board of Education. Below are the questions and answers. Thank you Kim for sharing your thoughts with us!

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Kyra Tyler Q&A – Candidate for D91 Board of Eduation

The FPAC reached out to Kyra Tyler regarding her campaign for the District 91 Board of Education. Below are the questions and answers. Thank you Kyra for sharing your thoughts with us!

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Shannon Wood Q&A – Candidate for D91 Board of Eduation

The FPAC reached out to Shannon Wood regarding her campaign for the District 91 Board of Education.  Below are the questions and answers.  Thank you Shannon for sharing your thoughts with us!

Do/did your children attend D91?

I have two children in the district – one daughter in her second year of preschool at Garfield and one daughter in the third grade at Grant White.

What motivated you to run originally?

I have been volunteering at school since my oldest was in pre-k (5 years).  I helped created the Northside PTC and am still a member.  I feel as a parent it is important for me to be involved in my children’s education and supporting the teachers and staff as needed when I can.  I feel serving on the school board will give me a deeper understand about what our kids are learning and how. As well as give me insight into how the district works and allow me to be a part of the process of moving the district forward.


What have you personally accomplished while on the board (if you are an incumbent)?

N/A

What have you helped accomplish while on the board (if you are an incumbent)?

N/A

What is D91 doing well?

The small class sizes are amazing.  I believe that our district has a great open door policy.  I have always received a response and a scheduled meeting when requested and have felt that my concerns have been respectfully heard. I also love how collaboration is being taught and used in the classroom.  This helps gets students ready for the real world by teaching them how to work with others and to know that there may be more than one way to approach a problem.

What does the D91 need to improve on?

I’d like to see more workshops and lessons on bullying (explaining the difference between bullying and mean behavior).  I also think it would be helpful for kids of all ages to learn how to resolve conflicts respectfully among each other.  Offering workshops for parents to help explain the common core methods being used in class so it will be easier to assist with homework – I know that there was a Parent University survey sent out – this may already be being addressed.

What are your goals for the next term and how do you plan to accomplish them?

I would love to see the north and south sides of Forest Park come together more.  We are separated during the elementary years but then kids all go to one middle school. I think it would be great for parents and students to create friendships that begin before middle school.

I am looking forward to working with the board members on finding ways to increase our test scores.  I plan on making sure that all students are comfortable in their learning environment.

What is your response to the latest IL report card that reflects poor performance, 7th out of 9 middle schools in Proviso, while student:teacher ratios are low and $/student is high?

It is disappointing. From what I understand it is hard to compare our schools report cards with others at the elementary level as we have grade level centers and the other districts do not – skewing the results a bit.  I also understand why standardized testing is required but I have mixed feelings about them.  Some students to do not test well – this does not then show the student’s true capabilities and how well the curriculum is  being taught.  At an older age some of those students may not care about the test or the outcome as it doesn’t seem to affect them personally – again skewing the results.  Transient students and underperforming students are also factors to look at when assessing the scores.

What is your plan to work with Dr. Rodriguez and 209 to build the One Proviso he is implementing?

I’d like to see the middle schoolers be able to visit Proviso – become familiar with the school.  I will continue to encourage parents to attend 209 Board meetings as well.  You have to be the change, not wait for it to happen.

How can parents help improve D91?

Get involved!  Show up at PTO meetings, school board meetings, school events. Learn about what is going on at the schools in our district.  Talk to other parents.  There are weekly emails sent from the principals but those only contain so much information.  See how you can help your teachers.  If you have a concern about something, email the teacher.  I like to think of myself as part of the education team – which included the teacher and principal.  Most importantly let your child know you care about what is going on at school and what they are learning.  Ask questions – let them know you care and that they are important.


How integrated is the BoE with the PTO/PTC groups and activities? Do you plan to work more closely with these groups as well as the CAC?

I do know that board members attend many of the school events.  I was involved in helping create the Northside PTC and am still a member – I still plan on being involved just not as heavily after the election. There is a member from both the PTC and the PTO on the CAC – they bring any news from each organization to the meeting and then bring back any news from the community to the monthly meeting.  There is also a school board member on the CAC – that member brings back the news from the community to the BoE.

Christina Ricordati Q&A – Candidate for D91 Board of Eduation

The FPAC reached out to Christina Ricordati regarding her reelection campaign for the District 91 Board of Education.  Below are the questions and answers.  Thank you Christina for sharing your thoughts with us!

Do/did your children attend D91?

Not yet! I have a son who will be 2 in July and another boy due to arrive in March, so still too young.

What motivated you to run originally?

I’ve always been interested in education. In my job as an education policy analyst, I do work nationwide. I wanted a way to engage at a more local level, and there’s nothing more local to me than D91.

What have you personally accomplished while on the board (if you are an incumbent)?

I think one thing I’ve really brought to the board personally is having more of an outward presence, whether it’s on social media or in the community. I’m always encouraging the board to participate in community events, ie look for us in the parade on Saturday! Also, because I spend a lot of time out and about, I hear people’s comments and concerns. I also am very active on social media and (I hope) I’m helping as a voice in matters people are concerned about in our district.

I also am not afraid to speak my mind. If you’ve ever been to a board meeting, you’ll note that I’m always questioning. I also do not shy away from the sandwich technique when discussing district successes (start with a positive, put some critiques/suggestions in the middle, then end on a positive). Just because something is better, doesn’t mean we’re done improving it. 

What have you helped accomplish while on the board (if you are an incumbent)?

The district has developed new core values based on the work that was done with the focus groups last year. These values hadn’t been revised in years and I’m proud of the work that the board and the administration did in engaging the community in this way. Also, I’m happy that the board was supportive of the Future Ready planning vision that the administration suggested. This new way of goal setting and improvement tracking on many aspects of the district is innovative and on the forefront of evaluation techniques. I encourage anyone wanting to know more about Future Ready to contact Dr. Cavallo!

What is D91 doing well?

I am so pleased that D91 continues to invest resources into early childhood education. The research is clear on how important those early years are to future success. And to do this while also staying fiscally responsible is a nod to good planning. Districts surrounding us (even those more affluent) are facing huge budget shortfalls and calling on tax payers to approve huge increases just to keep things afloat. Thankfully we are not in that position. I also believe that D91 is doing well on serving an incredibly diverse group of students. It’s very difficult to manage the needs of a wide range of socioeconomic levels and the needs and wants of parents and students at these different levels. This is one of those issues that, while I think the district is doing a good job, there is always room to do better on. This is crucial to our community.

What does D91 need to improve on?

Closing the achievement gap! D91 has a (significantly) smaller than state average gap when it comes to serving special needs students vs. non and low-incomes students vs. non, which is great. But when it comes to the difference in white and black and white and Hispanic students, D91 is only average. This is the key to improving test scores for the district as a whole given our demographic. I know we can do better for ALL kids.

What is your response to the latest IL report card that reflects poor performance, 7th out of 9 middle schools in Proviso, while student:teacher ratios are low and $/student is high?

I’m a no excuses kind of gal. I don’t need to see comparisons, all I need to see if that not enough kids are meeting standards and ready for the next level. I have been vocal at board meetings that I have no interest in any statistics that may or may not justify our test scores. I just want to see how we’re going to improve. As I mentioned above, we can do better, and I believe it begins with closing the achievement gap. As far as low teacher ratios and high spending, we saw during the community engagement last year that small class sizes and neighborhood schools are still very important to the community. Our ability to offer those is a positive. I cannot comment on any other school district’s method for class sizes and spending.

What are your goals for the next term and how do you plan to accomplish them?

Beyond the things I’ve already mentioned, I’d like the board and the administration to look at new ways to take advantage of our small district size. There are pros and cons to having a small district and I want ours to be utilizing all of the pros that we can.

What is your plan to work with Dr. Rodriguez and 209 to build the One Proviso he is implementing?

This is something that is more an administrative question than a board question in my opinion, but I, and I’m sure the rest of the board, are committed to serving the students in D91 no matter where they are going to go to high school. And making sure whatever high school choice they make, that they are prepared as they can be when they enter.

How can parents help improve D91?

I encourage any and all parents to come to board meetings. I know that time is tight as a parent and it’s not always possible, but I do believe that seeing how the board works and what issues the board does and does not engage on is a positive. Also, those parents with questions or concerns should engage the principals at their schools. Oftentimes issues that parents have are of an administrative nature and the principals are the best people to offer guidance. I also know that the district is coming up with ways to engage parents further through things like Parent University, so make sure to look for those announcements and attend if you can.

How integrated is the BoE with the PTO/PTC groups and activities? Do you plan to work more closely with these groups as well as the CAC?

This varies board member to board member. For me personally, I am on the CAC, so I attend every meeting. This is a great two-way communication tool that allows me to hear what parents and other groups in the community are thinking and also for me to report out on board meetings for those that could not attend. Since I am not an active school parent, my interaction with the parent/teacher organizations is more limited.

Is there anything else you would like to discuss or elaborate on?

I very much want to thank Jordan and the FPAC for taking the time to put these questions together. I know uncontested elections are easy to ignore. But knowing what the people representing you stand for and are working towards is so important for Democracy!

I’ve included a picture of me and my son, Hank. When I first joined the board in the fall of 2015, Hank was only a few months old. I was a new mom, had just gone back to work, and I was nervous that I shouldn’t be taking on another commitment that would take time away from him. But my husband reassured me that Hank would want me to do this, to do my part to make D91 not only an even greater place for him to go, but all the kids in Forest Park. So that’s why I’m running for reelection on the D91 school board and I hope that I will have your vote on April 4th

D91 School Board Meeting Summary 1/19/17

The agenda for the meeting is here.  This was the first time I have been to a D91 meeting and it is quite different from 209 meetings.  In a good way.  The room is quite cozy and all the attendees are invited to introduce themselves at the beginning of the meeting.  The board has a diverse set of personalities, but they all get along well and genuinely appear to be invested in doing what is best for our elementary and middle school children.

Much of the meeting consisted of a report on the current progress regarding a uniform PR effort.  In short, the newsletter is going out 3x a year, the district is getting re-branded with a cohesive theme across the board, the emergency notification system has been standardized and set up for immediate and simultaneous distribution to all forms of communication.  Also, upcoming parent university sessions were discussed and the board strongly suggested to have a course on Common Core.

The finance report started off strong, with CPI numbers above 2%.  It was explained that 2% is the minimum compensation that the district must provide and when CPI is below that, the tax revenue is typically also below that threshold forcing the district to pay out-of-pocket, which is why the reserve funds are being used.  This is a reason why the reserves were built up as this issue was forecasted.  With the CPI above 2%, revenue is expected to track closely with expenses which essentially balances the day-to-day budgeting.  They did mention that transportation revenue is not capped and currently has well more than is needed.  These funds may be used for another purpose, but I’m a bit surprised they can re-purpose at will like that while other fund categories are capped.

The board has completed their self-evaluation and will be completing their evaluation of Superintendent, Dr. Cavallo, in the next month.

The board agreed to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day March.

The upcoming Proviso District 209 Town Hall was mentioned.  Dr. Cavallo and some board members will be present.  Some concern was expressed as to if their master plan was going to be in line with what Dr. Rodriguez (209 Superintendent) has in mind for the Foundation Schools.

Lastly, there was a discussion about recess policies.  If it feels like >20 degrees they have recess [edit: recess outside].  If a parent doesn’t want their child to go out (sickness or other reasons) they can stay inside.  The playgrounds are not always clear of snow because the rubber surfaces cannot be plowed, only shoveled.  In no case can denial of recess be used as a punishment.

All in all, it was a good experience seeing our local school board work.  Next month the FPAC may live stream the meeting!