Where they stand: D219 School Board candidates share platforms before election


Image credit: The Chicago Tribune

Election day is fast approaching. On April 6th, seven candidates–including three incumbents– will run for the D219 school board.

Elana Jacobs, Irena Petryk, Joseph Nowik, Kathleen Boyle, and Richard Evonitz all shared their policy ideas and stances on prominent issues with North Star News, as well as valuable insights regarding the local politics of the district’s leadership. Naema Abraham and Ross Sawyers (both non-incumbents) did not respond to the NSN’s request for comments by press time.

Candidate opinions are edited for clarity and space allotted.


Kathleen W. Boyle, non-incumbent

Image credit: Kathleen W. Boyle via Facebook

Top priority as a board member:

My top priority is unifying the board and representing the D219 community as a whole. I want to make sure that our school district is actively promoting the services that everybody needs so they can have accessibility to them without having to search for them and without having to go beginning for help.

Thoughts on returning to in-person learning:

I know that remote learning represents challenges for some students and families more than others. My answer will always be that we have to err on the side of safety. Being in the building without vaccines isn’t safe for anyone. I’ve been impressed with [how] D219 [has] approached getting students’ needs addressed. Reaching out for mental health services, to do mental well-being checks–that’s what I think needs to be addressed.

Do police officers belong in schools?

Pretty much everybody on or running for the school board should acknowledge that we’re speaking from a position of privilege. For the students who have no choice but to face possible discrimination and racial profiling, we need to really support the Equity Task Force and wait for them to come to their natural conclusion is before anyone makes a commitment to eliminate the [police in schools]. That’s certainly the way I’m leaning. There are ways of providing security that don’t necessarily involve a member of the Skokie police dept.


Richard Evonitz, incumbent

Image credit: Richard Evonitz via Facebook.

Top priority as a board member:

My top priority is getting students and staff back to school safely. For those impacted by remote learning, we need to provide better access to more educational and extracurricular opportunities once our schools fully reopen. With every decision on the school board, you need to ask yourself, “Is this good for students?” So, my passion for this position emanates from how I see our students grow and develop. I see that growth in the tremendous efforts undertaken by Dance Marathon (please give generously).

Thoughts on returning to in-person learning:

I support the Administration’s current plan, but we need to constantly and continually listen to the feedback of our staff, students and community.

Do police officers belong in schools? 

The utmost responsibility of the Board is to ensure that our students will be able to learn in a safe environment. A school resource officer (SRO) is currently part of that equation, particularly in the event of a dire emergency. I look forward to the presentation of the findings [of the superintendent’s evaluative task force] and recommendations in the near future.


Elana Jacobs, non-incumbent

Image credit: Elana Jacobs via Facebook

On “amplifying student voices”, per her campaign platform:

I am a proven transformative educator with over 10 years in the public school system. I have been on many committees in Skokie and Chicago learning about education[al] policy and important community issues. I want students to be involved in the decision process at every step of the way. Always aiming to get 100% of student participation for decisions that impact them.

I am motivated by the quote “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” I no longer want to be on the menu. Now I want to have a vote in changing public policy as a member of the school board.

 Do police officers belong in schools?

The change of discipline practices to restorative justice is a long process that takes time to implement alternative practices with fidelity by stakeholders and understand the biases. The court system should not be part of the discipline method. How is [sic] Lincolnwood, Skokie, [and] Morton Grove prepared to invest extra money in mental health professionals, recruitment of local youth development workers, outreach to 100% of residents–not just voters–and train residents about civic engagement to make each village physically and emotionally safe? 

Thoughts on returning to in-person learning:

As a teacher, I can’t wait to SAFELY  interact with my students and colleagues in person.* School will never be the “normal” that it was in 2019. If education staff and students need to stay remote due to their health or their family’s health, then there needs to be accommodations without penalties.  There needs to be a [sic] flexibility with the unpredictability of COVID-19 strains.    

 * Jacobs currently teaches at CPS.


Joseph S. Nowik, incumbent

Image credit: Joseph S. Nowik via Facebook.

Thoughts on returning to in-person learning:

 My immediate top priority is the safe and quick return of our students to in-person learning. The covid-19 impact on extracurricular activities and sports has been huge! I would like to see a massive effort to provide some recovery by encouraging all students to participate in the upcoming summer session fee-free. As long as the metrics allow and our teacher’s vaccinations get accelerated, I would like to see a progressive plan to get all students back to a state where the majority of their time is in-person instruction at the same amount of time as pre-pandemic and all possible extracurricular and sports activities are open and running. 

Reasons for first seeking office:

– The district’s finances were in disarray and with my experience, I knew that I could help get them in order.

– Our district’s previous mission statement was to get our students “College Ready” this completely neglected the many students that chose different paths (employment, the trades, military,…) I’m pleased that we have corrected this and now have a better career path curriculum at D219.

– There were glaring inequities in our district. The Bridges program, as an example, did not serve the needs of our students with special needs adequately. I wanted to embed equity into the decision making processes throughout the district.

Do police officers belong in schools?

I look forward to hearing [the audit’s] recommendations. I believe that all processes and systems can and should be evaluated and improved constantly. I believe that an SRO can function in a system that focuses on safety, equity and restorative justice.


Irena Petryk, non-incumbent

Image credit: Irena Petryk via Facebook

Top priority as a board member:

My top priority as a representative is working toward a future in which all students succeed. There are many issues that determine the pace at which we move toward this future: curriculum initiatives, staff hiring practices, the back-to-school plan, and district finances, to name just a few.

Thoughts on returning to in-person learning:

The biggest oversight at the moment, in my opinion, concerns students who choose to stay home. Though the current board has stated that the technological needs of students are being met, this is not the case. We can see this plainly at the board meetings: Technological issues make delivering a report impossible for student representatives. I have spoken to teachers who say that students can’t keep their camera on and speak at the same time — hampering their ability to participate in class. How is the board going to ensure that students who continue to learn remotely are able to do so without interference from technological problems?

Do police officers belong in schools?

I appreciate the time and effort that the security task-force has been investing in investigating the subject. What this debate does is raise many important questions. Who is getting disciplined within our district? What are they being disciplined for? Is the way we discipline children effective? What can and should be changed? It is crucial that school administration and community members consistently consider these questions.