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.

Kristine Mackey | Provided

Name:  Kristine Mackey

Age:   66

Previous Political Experience:  Ran unsuccessfully for IL State House from Oak Park, 1992

Previous/Current Community Involvement: Board member, St. Gregory the Great High School, former co-chair, 5 years; former member, Patrons Committee, Big Shoulders Fund, 3 years; former president, COPTHA, 6 years; former mentor, College Persistence Advisory Committee of Chicago Jesuit Academy, 14 years; current member, Advisory Board of Kingsman Capital, LLC., 10 years; current teacher, St. Luke’s Religious Education Program, 1 year

Occupation:  vice president, USA Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus, Inc.  Chicago, IL

Education: bachelor’s degree, University of Nebraska; master’s degree, Creighton University; doctorate in education, University of Florida; M.B.A. with concentration in economics and accounting, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

1. Do you support River Forest elementary schools adopting all-day kindergarten?

I do.  

2. What do you believe are the strongest arguments for all-day K?

The research on early childhood education has been building over the years, and indicates that it is in childrens’ best interest, laying critical and developmentally necessary foundation for future learning.  The reasons given previously for NOT providing this for River Forest children have been primarily financial, and can be overcome.  Also, the demographic of the village has changed meaningfully in recent years, with young families now representing a larger portion of the village’s population.  We should listen to them – they have expressed a strong preference for the district’s adoption of full-day kindergarten.

3. What do you believe will be the greatest challenges if expanded kindergarten is approved? Costs? Finding adequate staff? Facilities?  

I don’t see staffing availability nor facilities as the issue.  We have proven we can hire great teachers – and we do have enough facilities to accommodate full-day kindergarten albeit with some reconfiguration.  Cost will be the challenge.  It will require some additional one-time cost as current buildings undergo some limited re-tooling.  There may be an additional annual cost if district offices move and lease off-site office space (if that option is implemented).  But the relevant cost of this change is additional teachers.  These additional ongoing operational costs as a portion of the district’s budget should represent approximately 10%  additional personnel expenditures – so most achievable. There are a number of ways that this amount could be covered, and meeting the cost challenge will require exploring all of those mechanisms carefully and perhaps with some cost reduction as part of the equation.

4. With the national COVID-19 emergency declaration ending in May, what do you consider as District 90’s greatest challenges in addressing learning loss during the pandemic and the social impact of remote learning for, at least, some students?

There has been learning loss undoubtedly.  Making up for lost time will require work on the part of families, and the school district.  We should monitor academic progress and be open about the data that we receive.  Teachers and Counselors are already identifying individuals’ needs as a result of learning loss. They are already communicating with families, coaching families in order to maximize recovery.  The Teachers and Counselors should be applauded, and supported in these efforts.  Families should realize that they have a part to play in recovery and should be evermore attentive to finding ways to support this.    Many already are through private tutoring, through library offerings, through ratched-up parent engagement in homework for example.  Finally, one of the greatest factors in increased learning is “time-on-task”.  Now especially — we should protect the full school day and school year.  While the state has guidelines on “Days That Count for Attendance” to meet their minimum requirements, River Forest District 90 should have as our guidepost in this time of recovery preserving time-on-task.   Covid dug a hole that was no one’s fault, and we must climb out of it together.  I believe we will be able to accomplish this together — with grace and aplomb.  

5. Do you believe our children, especially by middle school, are dealing with more concerns over mental health than in the past? What is the role of a public school system in providing mental health services and resources to children and families? How is District 90 performing on that front?

The need for wraparound mental health for all students – those with specific long-term and/or situational needs, and those for whom we want to preserve and promote mental health wellness—has increased over the last many years, including the COVID years.  District 90 and families have collaborated well to identify needs and to increase resources, as well as to provide additional training for frontline Teachers.  I think District 90 has done very well on this front.

6. In the radical transformation in teaching caused by COVID-19, what did District 90 learn or invent that should be retained in teaching going forward?

I assume by “radical transformation in teaching” you mean e-learning. I cannot comment on what District 90 has learned nor invented.  That said, I think there is a place for e-learning, but we haven’t yet perfected it and we don’t know enough about the long-term efficacy of this approach.  There are some children for whom it has proven wholly ineffective for a variety of reasons.  While most teachers put forth yeoman effort during COVID,  our teachers’ use of this methodology appears quite varied.  Finally, we have conducted no evidence-based research to help us better understand many things ie: which curriculum components were best served by this methodology, how to best train teachers to be most effective with groups and with individuals via virtual learning, what long-term academic and emotional effects resulted for individuals and for cohorts.  For these reasons, and at this time,  I believe virtual learning should not be used as an equal substitute for in-person classroom teaching at the elementary level.

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