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Who's on your ballot? Meet Kathy Champine

In this series, we introduce you to the candidates running for election April 6 who share our democratic values. Please make your plan to VOTE in this election... by mail, early, in-person... it all counts.

Kathy Champine is running for the District 126 Zion-Benton High School Board. Read her bio here. Find her on Facebook.

1) Why are you running for this office?

Two years ago, I began attending school board meetings initially motivated by my tax bill. My attitude gradually shifted from skepticism to appreciation for how well run and financially sound this district is. Recently the District has made some big capital investments - a Performing Arts Center, a Natatorium, and there are more improvements on the horizon. Each year for the last four years the District has reduced the percentage of its annual tax levy. This was accomplished by strategic planning, savings and investments. I would like to ensure the District remains fiscally responsible and continues to decrease the annual levy while providing the best possible education for our students.

2) What do you believe is the most important issue facing the organization you’d be serving, and what should be considered when addressing it?

Student grades are the most important. Our students should graduate prepared to be competitive and successful in whatever their next step in life is – be it college, vocational school, the military or straight into the job market. Their curriculum should be diverse, challenging and prepare them for the future. If students need help, they should receive it. No student should be allowed to slip through the cracks and disappear. The District has intervention specialists, counselors and tutors to help those who need to catch up. If we need more specialists, then let’s hire more. Every single student should be given the opportunity to reach for their goals.

3) Historically, voter turnout in local elections is very low. What would you say to community members to encourage them to get out to vote April 6?

Every single vote matters. Look what happened in Georgia. Stacey Abrams motivated people to register and to vote and they did. They elected two senators who represent the people not the old guard. In my opinion, local elections are extremely important. You will be electing the people who have a great deal of impact on your life – they hire the police and fire departments, create local legislation, set your tax levies, hire your schoolteachers and choose the textbooks your children will be studying. Learn about your candidates and choose wisely.

4) What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or watched recently and why?

Governor Pritzker signed the Education and Workforce Equity Act (HB 2170). This comprehensive bill is designed to reverse centuries of systemic racism.

Some of its requirements are:

· Expanded access to the Early Intervention program

· An annual assessment of children entering kindergarten for readiness

· New graduation requirements to prepare students for computer literacy

· Increases accelerated placement program

· Expands the required Black history coursework

· Establishes a 22-person inclusive American History Commission

· Strengthens the equity components in the Evidence Based Funding formula

· Expands trauma-responsive school services

· Establishes priority in grant funding for students wanting to become bilingual teachers.

It is effective immediately.

5) Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

I would like to see improved communications between the District and the community as well as resource sharing between taxing bodies. For instance, when the District isn’t using the Natatorium, it will be operated by the Park District and open to residents. I would love to see the entire community invited to attend plays and concerts at the Performing Arts Center and other taxing bodies use it as well. Perhaps the School and Park Districts could work together to share the Performing Arts Center – enabling the Park District to offer drama and/or stage craft classes.

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