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Meet Your Candidates: Liz Fischer, District 90 School Board Member

Liz Fischer, a River Forest homemaker and writer, runs for District 90 School Board.

Liz Fischer, a homemaker and writer in River Forest, is one of three candidates running unchallenged on the District 90 School Board ballot.

and incumbent James Weiss will also appear on the ballot. (Editor's note: Weiss was sent a candidate questionnaire, but has not returned it.)

Born and raised in Oak Park, she attended OPRF high school and has lived in River Forest since 1997. She has three children with husband Bruce, including two currently in the District 90 school system.

Fischer said she decided to run for the board because she sees it as a way to give back to her community, working toward a brighter future.

In her spare time she enjoys Pilates, hockey, cycling, and browsing in bookstores.

Patch: District 90's Board of Education has recently been considering a full-day kindergarten program. What are your thoughts on this?

Liz Fischer: Full-day kindergarten would have been something my husband and I would have considered for my own children. However, the school board has a lot to consider when addressing this question. I was recently given a summary of the data collected this past winter and I look forward to studying the findings in depth in order to participate in an informed way in the board's discussion about this issue.

What's your impression of the quality of schools in District 90?

My impression of the quality of schools in River Forest is based on my own children's experiences. I have been impressed with the way the district receives each child and then prepares each of them--not only for academic excellence--but also for respectful social interaction, personal fitness and self-discipline. Since we came to the district in 2005, I've admired the way the district educates "the whole child."

My children's teachers are passionate and hard-working. The administrative team has supported those teachers fairly seamlessly through careful planning and preparation. The community-at-large has generously supported the schools as they did in the 2006 referendum. My impression is that any child who goes to school in this district is given a great deal of support to rise to his or her potential. 

Do you approve the current budget size and how the money is being spent?

I look forward to better understanding the details of the district budget as it relates to value-per-dollar-spent-per-pupil. It is noteworthy that the per-pupil costs of educating a student in this district are lower than other comparable high-performing elementary districts in the Chicago metro area. I believe that is a meaningful benchmark and a good start for measuring value.

Has the federal No Child Left Behind Act been a positive in your opinion? Why/why not?

Like its name, the No Child Left Behind legislation was well-intended. But federal legislation takes the "macro" approach to stimulating success in schools across the country. This type of lens cannot possibly zoom in on each district or child within each district. School boards are a vital component of our public school system because they are locally controlled, and uniquely equipped to maximize the value of the district to each child and family within the district.

Who was your favorite teacher, and why?

I encountered a couple of excellent math teachers while I was at OPRFHS. One was Mr. Gore who believed that I could jump a couple of levels in math during my freshman year of high school after I'd been placed in an average track by my grade school math teacher. His belief, his teaching skill, his sense of humor and his patience with me really paid off. I became an top honors math student for the rest of my schooling and that in turn did a lot for my overall confidence. The other teacher who meant a lot to me was Mr. Rich Deptuch, who was one of the most affirming teachers I ever had. He gave many of us a comfort zone for studying math at a time when girls being good at math just wasn't cool. His room was a haven where we could bring more than just math problems. He could be counted on for a good laugh or great advice when it really mattered. He made a huge school feel very safe.

What do you see as some future issues facing District 90 in the next ten years? How will you address those issues?

School district consolidation may be an ongoing issue, given state funding shortfalls. I expect that it is something the District 90 board will pay attention to on an ongoing basis. Safeguarding the quality of leadership we have had in each of the elementary schools is also a priority. It will continue to be important to make good choices on behalf of the students during a time of tightening finances. In the words of Anne Lamott, I'll aim to address all the questions that come my way "bird by bird" and in the spirit of collaboration and consensus with my fellow board members and the district's administrative team. I look forward to the work.

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