Katherine Louise Zeitvogel
CANDIDATE FOR DISTRICT 100 SCHOOL BOARD
1. What motivates you to seek this office? What skills, experiences, and perspectives would you bring to the Board, and why would those contributions be valuable to District 100?
I am running to prepare District 100 children to be open-minded, inquisitive contributors to our society, to represent all members of our community, and to improve allocation of taxpayer dollars. As the Director of Sales & Staffing, along with my background and Bachelor’s in Dance, I am uniquely able to allocate resources in the most effective areas and aim to apply this skill to various arenas on the Board.
2. What do you think makes an effective School Board Member?
An effective School Board Member is someone that continually asks questions and employs tactics to support the social emotional needs of all members of the community. It’s someone that listens carefully to all perspectives, politely questions and replies, and respectfully disagrees when applicable.
3. When in your experience have you had to balance competing interests? What process did you use? What did you learn?
My current job requires me to wear various hats, balancing the different needs of competing companies within the same day. I always listen carefully, respond thoughtfully, and take notes as needed. When confronted with an especially difficult choice, I weigh pros and cons and make choices based on the bigger picture. I must be able to respect myself and my own decision at the end of the day.
4. What does transparency in government mean to you? How would you put it into practice?
Transparency in government, to me, means ease of access to information and ease of communicating concerns. My team and I plan to collaborate with local printing resources to issue a monthly bilingual newsletter to celebrate successes and communicate with all members of our community about issues that require attention.
5. In what ways have you sought to better know and understand the concerns and needs of residents outside your demographic group (specifically the demographic groups of race, religion, ability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status)?
I attend a variety of public events, frequently ask questions, and try to walk in another’s shoes. I am a firm believer that we are all the same, we all have the same wants and needs, and when we approach another as equals, we immediately connect to greater sympathy.
6. Some have advocated for a shift from policing and surveillance in schools toward restorative justice, mental health, and supportive services in schools. Do you believe in these approaches? If so, how would you move this work forward?
Yes, we should absolutely shift to restorative practices and provide support rather than admonition. Not only has it been proven more effective, it is the more humane approach. We are teaching and leading children to be the next leaders, and I believe leading through compassion will take us closer to a more peaceful community.
7. Some homeowners were shocked by the size of the tax increase after the recent referendum. How will you balance the community's desire to decrease the property tax burden with district stakeholders’ desire to have a school district that effectively serves all students?
I will not vote for the ‘look back option’. I will instead inspect our current budget and reallocate current funds. I will propose collaborating with nearby districts, such as District 98, to find out how they have successfully taxed less and created better results. I believe that we have the resources we need: They need to be better supported and utilized.
8. Between 2007 and 2018, the budget for the District has nearly doubled, and yet standardized test scores have fallen. What do you believe is the cause for this decrease in student performance on standardized tests?
I believe there are two key factors: the rotation of educators within the district and improper use of funding. By addressing educator retention, we will save the district money that can be allocated elsewhere while also supporting the students through improved community.
9. As more of our local discourse happens in social media, what is your view on how local elected officials should communicate with and respond to constituents? How will you engage with the breadth of the community, and not just the voices that are loudest or easiest to find?
Elected officials should be leading by example for the community: Listening carefully to all and respectfully responding as able. Additionally, I propose making the school board meetings more accessible by sharing videos on social media discussing the upcoming agenda and encouraging the public to bring their concerns.
10. How should the District assess its policies and progress with respect to special needs and the achievement gap? As a Board Member, what metrics will you use to determine whether the District is succeeding?
I believe achievement and success is possible for all of our students. With respect to our special needs students, we need to enforce Adverse Childhood Experience training for all our educators in addition to hiring more support.
11. How will you support budgetary decisions that better account for differences in student and neighborhood needs and resources? Will you prioritize reinvestment within our schools that primarily service Latinx and African American students?
I will champion new budgetary decisions that better provide for all of our students, particularly our Latinx and African American community. I will also champion recruiting diverse educators to better reflect our beautiful community. Representation is especially important in our school district where 84% of our students are Latinx and only 10% of our educators identify as the same.
12. Would you support funding to ensure that each District 100 school has a trained librarian, a nurse, adequate social workers & counselors, and support staff?
13. How do you strive to decolonize education? What work have you done personally and professionally to support this process?
Our history curriculum must be changed to more accurately reflect all communities. Learning and being immersed in different cultures broadens horizons and creates more accepting, loving communities. It also opens up difficult conversations in safe environments, which will also help heal our country’s wounds.
14. What have been your most useful sources of information about pre-secondary education? Have you found any research to be particularly informative?
Friends on, or have served on, various School Boards around the country along with friends and family educators within our district and countrywide. Learning what other communities have tried and found successful is a wonderful tool to bring fresh ideas to rebuild the trust within our community and to provide a more solid foundation for our students.
15. What is your vision for early childhood education in Berwyn? Do you support the right for every child regardless of immigration status to receive a public education as specified in Illinois law? How can you educate and support these families’ involvement in the school?
Early dual-language childhood education should be available to all children within Berwyn. I propose working closely with current initiatives within our schools to provide additional resources to parents that ease navigating the American Education System along with skills to assist their children at home.
16. Please list the three largest donors to your campaign by dollar amount contributed.
Robert Fejt, $100
Jose Ramirez, $100
Anthony Harris, $100
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[The above answers were supplied on 3/18/19. It may be possible to find more current financial information at the Illinois Sunshine website. Illinois Sunshine is also a useful resource for identifying past contributions by individuals to political candidates and committees in Illinois.]