The Wednesday Journal sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Journal’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.

Jonathan Livingston | Provided

Name: Jonathan Livingston

Age: 45

Previous Political Experience: None

Previous/Current Community Involvement: Board member, Shady Lane School (Pittsburgh, PA), Ursuline Support Services (Pittsburgh, PA), and Program to Aid Victims of Sexual Assault (Duluth, MN); volunteer, Lincoln Elementary and Intercultural Montessori (Oak Park), youth soccer, Oak Park

Occupation: Consultant to nonprofits/adjunct professor

Education: B.A. in Literature, Bennington College; Master’s in Advocacy and Political Leadership, University of Minnesota-Duluth; Ph.D. in Public Administration/Public Policy, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

1. What do you believe should be the timeframe for deciding the scope and the financing for Oak Park and River Forest High School’s Project 2? Specifically, should the current board act to make these critical decisions prior to the April election, or should a newly constituted board have the responsibility for deciding on a project that members will eventually oversee?

From what I understand, it is anticipated that the current board will be making this decision prior to the newly-constituted board members assuming office. Assuming this holds true, this is the right call. No one has been more intimately, empathically and critically involved in the Project 2 community-wide process than the current OPRF board. As such, I trust that they will act with integrity in making the right decision here.

2. If there is any debt component included in financing Project 2, should taxpayers have the opportunity to vote on this issue via a referendum?

Taxpayers should always have the opportunity to vote via referendum if a significant debt component should emerge in the financing of any public project. 

3. Are you in favor of returning sworn Oak Park and River Forest police officers to the OPRFHS campus? If so, what would be the best way of doing this? 

I am not in favor of this. Instead, I believe that we need to invest in a greater capacity to serve the social, emotional, and mental health needs of our students. 

4. How do you believe that the school district will know, and over what timeframe, that the restructuring of the Freshman Curriculum is working?

We should start to see what is working by looking at grades and test results by the end of the first year, but a commitment to meaningfully assessing all significant curriculum changes should involve consistently gathering feedback from teachers, students, staff and parents. 

5. What is your current assessment of OPRFHS’s shift from a more traditional punitive disciplinary approach to a more restorative approach? Do you believe that it is working?

I am thrilled to see that OPRF is embracing restorative practice to inform its disciplinary orientation. I am a huge advocate for integrating restorative practice not just when it comes to discipline, but also as a means of improving culture and communication at all levels of the school. 

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