1. What motivates you to seek this office? What skills, experiences, and perspectives would you bring to the School Board, and why would those contributions be valuable to District 91?

If elected, I will strive to bring the best through diligent research, transparency, well-reasoned and concrete plans of improvement, and continual follow-up.

2. What are District 91’s greatest strengths? What are its greatest challenges? What is your vision for District 91?

The current D91 Board has created a solid foundation, but there is more work to be done. Our district has been phenomenal at identifying issues and creating action plans to correct them. Because I have such deep experience directly with the schools as well as in other parts of the community, I believe I will be able to take a more proactive approach to leadership while on the Board.

3. What does transparency in government mean to you? Give one example of an action you would take as Board Member reflecting your views on this topic. How would you evaluate the District’s record on transparency?

My goal is to make information readily available and accessible to the community. I would like to see the board meeting moved to a location where there is more room for family attendance. The current location does not encourage lots of participation from our diverse community.

4. What steps will you take to enhance community engagement with the District and the School Board? What is your view on how local elected officials should communicate with and respond to constituents?

I recognize this issue; we do not have a uniform way of communicating with families in the district. We need to choose an app or program to be used district wide, and at all schools.

5. In what ways have you sought to better know and understand the experiences, concerns and needs of residents outside your demographic group?

I have volunteered in many capacities, including the Park District, Kiwanis and Boy Scouts as secretary. For two years I have been an active member of the Citizens Advisory Council, which serves as District 91’s Improvement Planning Committee. I am also a member of the PTO.

6. If you could create a brand new public elementary school district from scratch, what would it look like?

I have no interest in creating a public elementary school from scratch. I believe D91 has a good foundation which needs additional support from the board, families, community, and staff.

7. Low test scores, particularly in math, continue to be troubling signs for the District, and enrollment has been declining. What specific steps would you take as a Board Member to improve test scores?

Raising lagging test scores in our district is one item on my goal tree. While I don’t believe this is the be-all, end-all I believe our students are capable of much more than we expect from them. We must make sure our most engaged students are being challenged while ensuring that any children who are struggling are given the support they need to succeed.

8. 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?

Working with the special education department to make sure Forest Park has one of the best programs in the area. We must take a look at not just what is required by law, but what we can do beyond those requirements to make sure that all our children flourish. Metrics alone will not tell if we succeed or fail.

9. Early this year the School Board approved a new Equity Imperative designed to remove barriers to opportunity so that children can reach their full potential. Do you believe these new policies will be successful? Why or why not? What further policies are needed?

We need to focus on educating the whole child, including social, emotional and academic achievement regardless their position in society. This is one key area where we need to be proactive. This is one area where more transparency from the board is required. The training program is unclear but needs to be consistently revisited, assessed, and developed.

10. What have been your most useful sources of information about pre-secondary education? Have you found any research to be particularly informative?

The most useful source of information is my family experience. Four of my children have completed pre-secondary education. During this time of their education I partnered with the instructional staff for a unified approach to my children’s individual successes.

11. How will you balance the community's desire to decrease the property tax burden with District stakeholders’ desire to to have a school district that effectively serves all students?

The school board does not set the property tax rate. However, they do oversee the district’s fiscal responsibility. In order to support the community, I will help ensure money is well spent and that tax dollars are not wasted.

12. In what ways can District 91 collaborate with District 209 to more adequately prepare students for the transition to high school?

Invite D209 students to events like STEAM night, have their choir and band perform at D91 schools, field trips to the high schools, etc. Have more exploratory classes at D91 that mirror D209’s Career Center so entering freshman students have a better idea of what track they want to go into.

13. Please list the three largest donors to your campaign by dollar amount contributed.

[The candidate did not answer this question.]

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[The above answers were supplied on 2/21/19. 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.]

Forest Park Review endorsement (Forest Park Review 3/19/19)

Volunteering was expected (Forest Park Review 3/5/19)

Survey Responses: Monique Cotton Yancy (Forest Park Review 3/1/19)

Cotton, Gasse announce D91 runs (Forest Park Review 11/13/18)

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About the District 91 School Board

D91 board wannabes talk district highlights, shortfalls (Forest Park Review 3/12/19)

D91 challengers file for school board election (Forest Park Review 12/18/18)