Candidate Questionnaire from March 23, 2017: CUSD 300 School Board – Mary McNicholas

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NAME: Mary McNicholas


Community Unit School Dist. 300

1.  Why are you seeking this position?

I am seeking a seat on the CUSD 300 Board of Education because I want to bring my strong passion, experience, and unique perspective to the board. As a recent D300 graduate, my voice is the closest to a student perspective of anyone running. I have experienced first-hand exactly what makes District 300 schools so remarkable, and I have also seen the problems that need to be addressed. While I by no means have a comprehensive view of every issue in the district, learning about the problems faced by the diverse D300 community has driven my passion for public education advocacy. I hope to work as a Board of Education member to serve as a voice and advocate for the people most affected by district decisions— the students.

2.  What experience and background do you have which qualifies you for this position?

A longtime Dundee resident, I attended D300 schools from Kindergarten through 12th grade. During high school, I served as the student representative on the D300 School Board’s Legislative Committee. On that committee, I worked with local lawmakers like Senator Michael Noland and Representative Mike Tryon to advocate for policy supporting public education, in many cases directly benefitting D300 while becoming very familiar with the Illinois legislative process. I am also currently pursuing a degree in Public Policy with a specialization in Education Policy at the University of Chicago, where I am learning from leaders in the field how to implement solutions to the challenges faced by students and districts like D300.

3.  What will be your greatest challenge if elected?

If elected, my greatest challenge will be serving on a public school board at a time when public education in the United States is threatened— particularly in Illinois where the state budget crisis poses a direct risk to education funding. I truly believe that every member of the D300 community should have access to a well-funded well-staffed school, and that the best option for those schools should be public schools. As a Board member, I would continue my advocacy work to ensure that D300 can keep serving the community to the best of its ability in a tumultuous political climate. This involves not only maintaining but expanding education services, all while keeping a balanced budget that places the smallest burden possible on taxpayers.

Release for publication? YES

I will attend the forum? YES

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