Kristen Steel – 2021 District 211 Board of Education Election Candidate Questionnaire


Photo courtesy of Kristen Steel

Gabe Classon and Maya Nayak

The Viking Logue sent out a questionnaire to all nine candidates in the District 211 Board of Education race. Below is candidate Kristen Steel’s unabridged response. See here for The Logue‘s full coverage of the April 6 election, including other candidates’ responses to the questionnaire.


BIOGRAPHY: Tell us about yourself. What qualities, experiences, and skills make you a good choice for the Board?

I am Kristen Steel. I am awesome. I hope to continue to be a role model for all young women seeking to be a strong voice in the community making a difference for others. Vote for me if you are of age, and tell your parents to vote for me to ensure the future of D211 is bright. We’re Stronger Together!!

MOTIVATIONS: Why did you decide to run for the Board of Education? What would be your top priorities if elected?

The 2020/2021 school year has been a challenging one and community members have become more aware of what is happening in the district, and the shortfalls that are in front of the community. Township High School District 211 is much more than just curriculum, it is preparing students for life after high school, this is clearly stated in their mission. Many of the district students are struggling and face new challenges- both at home and at school- and it is the role of school, the district and the BoE to create a safe and fulfilling environment which will allow them to succeed. I will prioritize getting our students back to full- time in person learning, safely and effectively. The Board’s purpose is representing the community, while always keeping the students as top priority. In the aftermath of COVID and returning to school, investing in our youth now is more important than it has ever been. Township High School District 211 must have better communication with the community, a willingness to give the voice of residents’ equal weight as extended to the administration, and implement this into practice. This office is accountable to the public they serve. We must support the health and well-being of our students at every opportunity and do far more to measure and drive success.


How can the district support the mental health, physical well-being, and academic achievement of students during the pandemic? How should the district approach reopening?

We must focus on reconnecting our children to the routine of success. Social interaction plays a large role in mental health. Additionally, social interaction is vital to the development of soft skills employers will be seeking to identify once the pandemic ends. The district should approach re-opening as aggressively as laws and best practices safely allow. DO NOT be misled by fearful adults that would suggest you are at a higher risk than the data suggests. Be safe, but also be reasonable.


STUDENT CONCERNS OVER EQUITY: Over the past year, district students have addressed the Board over racial equity and sexual violence concerns. Please describe how you would approach these issues if elected.

IF ONLY the D211 BoE was held by an elected majority of women….. Our view and experiences on violence, intimidation, and harassment are starkly different than the views of white males. These issues need to be a priority, right after ensuring our students are receiving an equitable opportunity for academic success. What good is a safe school that does not prepare a young adult for the next phase of their life?

TRANSGENDER STUDENT LOCKER ROOM ACCESS: After five years of vocal community input from both sides of the issue, the district in January 2020 implemented a policy to allow transgender students unrestricted use of the locker room corresponding to their gender identity. What approach should the district take toward transgender student locker room access?

At this point there are no further steps to take towards access. The next debate will be the fairness of competition. Biology versus identity. This battle is on the horizon for the US Supreme Court to decide. The impact on young women will be profound. It is important that young women realize the choice being made on their behalf. The sacrifices that will be asked of them to support transgender individuals in the arena of athletics.

Fiscal Policy

PROPERTY TAXES: Striking the right balance between minimizing the tax burden on district residents and ensuring the future financial security of the district is challenging, especially during these economically uncertain times. What is your stance on abating or rebating a portion of the district’s property tax levy?

The District is over-taxing the community to the point that the project costs can not keep up with the money being taken into the district. Fund Balances are growing at the expense of families being able to put food on the table. Significant numbers of our neighbors are accepting free and reduced lunches, yet we raise taxes to the point where they are house poor. D211 needs to raise property taxes based on budget needs, and not treat our money as an entitlement.

EXPENDITURES: In which areas should the district focus its spending? Are there areas where spending should be cut?

Is there anything that a student at a D211 could need that is not provided? Pools, football fields, 1:1 device (i-pads), hundreds of clubs, meals at low rates, quality teachers, new propane buses, remodeled locker rooms, remodeled toilets, updated parking lots, new baseball fields, updated kitchens, updated libraries (media centers).

The admin is planning to update auditoriums and art rooms next. All with about $10M a year left over.

Maybe we can keep doing these great things while taking a little less money from the community. Then the administration would not need to work so hard trying to find ways to spend it.

If we can just CUT the surplus down a little, that would be a win.

Role of the Board

COMMUNICATION WITH THE COMMUNITY: Recent months have shown increased community interest in Board proceedings. How should the district communicate with the community? How should the community be able to communicate with the district?

Board meetings are a bunch of blank stares. This is by design. Instead, there needs to be a dialogue. The BoE has the power to change the meeting to be more community friendly. If I am on the board, I will do that. Unfortunately, the old white guy running the meetings follows recommendations from the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) which discourages dialogue. This drives a wedge between the community and the board. It is replaced with a reliance on the administration and superintendent. This MUST change. Your voice is a direct reflection of the quality of services provided. WE must have an open discussion to identify our needs at each of the schools. The fact that you’re involved in this election indicates two things: First, you’re interested in change. Second, you’re learning about the potential for that change.

COOPERATION WITH OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: While the vast majority of Board resolutions are passed unanimously, many important votes have come down to a 5–2 split. Additionally, some have raised concerns over the introduction of divisive politics into local elections. Please comment on how you would work with other Board members if elected.

I will work openly and honestly with other board members. I will avoid making promises and having discussions outside of the public body. You will know where I stand on votes and why I vote the way I do.

Final Thoughts

OTHER ISSUES: You may feel strongly about an issue for which we did not ask a question. If this is the case, please take the opportunity to share your thoughts on that issue here.

I AM KRISTEN STEEL. I AM AWESOME. I hope to continue to be a role model for all young women seeking to be a strong voice in the community making a difference for others. Tell your parents to vote for me to ensure the future of D211 is bright. We’re Stronger Together!!

A POSITIVE NOTE: It’s been a rough year, so let’s end this on a positive note. What is your favorite thing about District 211?

The other parents I met are honestly fighting for what is best for students. It might be difficult to see today, but our experience is being leveraged in a fight for your tomorrow!