Sara Dixon Spivy

Candidate for District 200 school board

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Age: 44
 
Previous elected experience: Elected in 2015 to OPRFHS Dist. 200 School Board, current board Vice President 
 
Previous community experience: Oak Park Liquor Control Review Board member, 2013-2015, volunteered locally on various campaigns including Obama 2012 and Hillary 2016, campaign manager for countywide judicial race for first African American male to win a contested countywide race in a decade (and my better half!)
 
Occupation: Since 7/2018- Assistant State's Attorney, Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Complex Litigation unit (doing civil defense of county agencies on multi-million dollar Section 1983 lawsuits in Federal Court)
Formerly an Assistant Public Defender, Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, handling cases from misdemeanors to murders and eventually promoted to attorney supervisor 
 
Education: Duke University School of Law, JD and University of Chicago, BA 

Do you believe that race is the primary predictor of student outcomes in District 200? Please expound. 

I do not believe that race is THE primary predictor of student outcomes, however I agree that it is one of the primary ones. We know we have an opportunity gap between white students and students of color that has only increased over time-- and our efforts have done nothing to narrow it. However, from our data we know that income is also a primary predictor of student outcomes. Therefore, the primary predictor of student outcomes according to the data is race coupled with income. Our low-income black students are our most vulnerable.

It is likely that if you're elected to the board, you'll have a hand in drafting the district's racial equity policy. What are your thoughts on a racial equity policy? Do you believe that it is necessary to ensure that race is not a predictor of student outcomes (assuming you believe this is the case)? And if so, how would you ensure that the racial equity policy is effectively implemented? 

I believe that we need a racial equity policy to help ensure that future boards place as much emphasis on racial equity as we have. If we do not create policy to provide a framework our efforts will not bring lasting change. The single biggest thing we can do to ensure that it is effectively implemented is to hire a superintendent who supports the effort and has the skills to implement it. A board is only as successful as its superintendent and I am extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish with Dr. Pruitt-Adams. During her interview she asked the Board if we had the courage to support her in the racial equity work. I was very impressed because it demonstrated she clearly knew how daunting the task ahead of her would be. Dr. Pruitt-Adams knows that we hired her to make headway on the opportunity gap and she has not disappointed us.

Do you believe that athletics and PE facilities are critical aspects of the overall student experience at OPRF? 

For many of our students their experience in high school is defined not by their classes but by their extra-curricular activities. As a former high school athlete myself, I believe that athletics are a critical aspect of the student experience at OPRF for our student athletes. However, I believe that art, music, theater, etc. are equally critical to the success of our students. I want to make sure that we are doing all we can to engage students in the high school experience by helping them find their passion. I believe we need to help our students engage in whatever activity or subject most interests them because students who participate in extra-curricular activities are more successful in school than those who don't.

What are your thoughts on the recent Imagine OPRF master facilities plan that the D200 board accepted last year? Do you believe that it adequately addresses students' needs? 

I am very impressed with the in-depth research into student needs conducted by the Imagine team. They compiled detailed results of interviews with students, faculty, staff, and administrators to discern what the long-term needs of our students are and I do think it adequately addresses our students' needs.

Do you believe that the D200 school board is a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars? If so, in what ways? If you don't believe this, what changes will you advocate on the board to make it so? 

I believe that we have been responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. This board has been saddled with correcting many of the long-term problems plaguing the district-- a bloated fund balance that has caused taxpayers to distrust us, an opportunity gap that has only grown over time, and racial tensions that remain unresolved. However, we have also approved a faculty senate contract that curbs the exponential growth in faculty compensation that we saw in prior contracts and allocated $32M to facilities improvements focused on classrooms and special education spaces without having to raise taxes. There will always be a plurality of opinion as to how to best spend taxpayer dollars, however I believe that we have not squandered the resource.

Do you believe that the D200 board adequately incorporates the voices of people most likely to be impacted by its decisions (i.e., students, teachers, faculty and staff) into its decision-making process? If not, what are some ways that the board can more adequately incorporate these voices into its decision-making process? 

We can always do better at incorporating the voices of those impacted by our policy decisions. However, several of our most recently drafted policies- gender equity, dress code, and racial equity- have had significant student and faculty input. The culture, climate and behavior committee was carefully assembled to include students, parents, faculty, staff, and administrators and board members. We can always improve but we have made significant strides in incorporating all voices since I have been on the board.

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