Age (as of election day):
Family -Names, ages and any pertinent details you wish to share:
Husband Marcus Talerico, a physician at Advocate Condell; Kayla Talerico age 17, Andrew Talerico age 14, Ben Talerico age 8
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government? – This includes any relatives who work in the government you’re running for:
MD from Loyola Stritch School of Medicine; BS from University of Notre Dame
Occupation -Please include years of experience:
Pediatrician for 16 years
Campaign website: katytalerico-d128schoolboard.com
Previous or current elected or appointed office
The single most pressing issue facing our (board, district, etc.) is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
Returning our schools to a better state of “normal” during and in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Work at District 128 to meet this goal has been going on for months, but more needs to be done. My plans include carefully looking to well-researched data and scientific and medical experts as to how best to do this, while closely working with school staff, teachers, and administrators to see what’s working well so far and what isn’t. Also, continuing to survey students and parents to get the same feedback from them is essential. I think a strong focus on mental health and looking for ways to make up for academic losses will be necessary for our district to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?:
One, I am a physician, so I have seen first hand the struggles children and families are enduring because of the pandemic. Working through the pandemic with many COVID positive patients, also gives me an important perspective to share regarding safety precautions that are effective.
I also have access to, and have thoroughly researched, many articles from reputable scientific journals (the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, etc), so can speak with truth on behalf of the data. I also have colleagues who do similarly, so can (and do) talk with them often about issues that arise regarding school reopening and COVID.
Two, because I am a pediatrician, I can say unlike no other, that I have children’s best interests at heart. I have devoted my career to them, and have no conflicts of interest for why I should run for a seat on the school board (ie: I have no ties to any special interest groups). My intentions for running for the school board are altruistic: to help do what’s best for our schools, because that will directly benefit children; and doing what will directly benefit children (as they are the future of our society), will benefit all.
Three, through the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, I have advocacy experience. This past summer, I worked alongside other physicians at the state level regarding school reopening issues. Through them, I gained experience working with IDPH and the Illinois Education Association, which is the largest teacher’s union in the state. Since school board members work closely with local chapters of teacher’s unions, this experience will help me tremendously as a school board member.
Four, also starting this past summer, I began working with the District 70 (Libertyville elementary and middle schools) school reopening committee. Alongside school administrators, teachers, and other parents, we met often (and still do) to work to open district schools safely. Again, working currently with school district personnel and other parents, has given me invaluable experience.
Finally, having a current junior in high school at District 128, I have experienced first hand what the district has done well, and what they could perhaps do better. Having an 8th grader and 3rd grader, I am personally invested in our district for many years to come.
If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community or district?
While the current board did their best I know to handle school reopening during the COVID pandemic (and I wouldn’t say they failed at this), I was disappointed that they weren’t able to get children into the buildings for in-person learning opportunities, at least in a hybrid plan, until the middle of January. Board members probably relied on information they read in the mainstream media, or maybe heard from others, to make decisions regarding when and how schools should open. What they might not have known, unfortunately, is that information that physicians and scientists who were working on the front lines during the pandemic were privy to, might have been different from what they themselves were reading. I don’t fault anyone on the board or at the school for not having this knowledge. However, I personally look to experts when decisions I am making fall outside my scope of expertise, and I would’ve expected those making decisions as important as school reopening during a pandemic, to do the same.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform
Other issues that define my campaign platform revolve mainly around issues that all board members must address. I plan to focus on:
Education. Continue the excellent academic and extracurricular opportunities and standards that D128 has already set, looking for ways to grow and improve. The district needs to ensure that each child’s academic, extracurricular, and social emotional needs are tended to. Each child has unique passions and interests that if discovered, encouraged, and honed, will allow for them to grow and flourish. This includes making sure each child’s plans for not only high school but after high school are addressed.
Facilities. Are structural enhancements necessary, to guarantee a safe and effective learning environment for all? Do all extracurriculars have what they need, to be an outlet for students’ passions? Regular evaluation and upkeep is needed, to prevent potential devastating events.
Spending: Are wise financial decisions being made? To ensure quality education, money must be spent. But this needs to be done carefully and appropriately. Taxpayers are expecting this, they must not be let down. Financial decisions will be complicated by COVID: its management requires large amounts of expenditures, more so than probably was allocated by the federal government. A detailed breakdown and analysis of the budget will be necessary.
Balance. The needs of all stakeholders must be considered. This is attained by listening to all. Only by considering everyone’s thoughts and opinions, can the district thrive, and do what’s best for its students.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
Accomplishments include those mentioned previously: my work with the AAP, IEA, and District 70. Also, my work ethic, commitment, and ability to carefully make decisions, weighing pros and cons and looking at problems from varying perspectives, which I have to do as a pediatrician, provides further evidence.
Why should voters trust you?
Voters should trust me because I have a personal commitment to others: I work at a community health center, serving those who need help regardless of their ability to pay. I listen to patients and do what they need based on this, much like a board member needs to listen to his/her constituents. I put my patients’ needs before my own family’s at times, as exemplified at the start of the pandemic. As one of my children has Type 1 Diabetes, colleagues suggested that I not come to work, for fear that my exposure to the virus through patients would put my son at increased risk. While it would have been understandable to do that, I didn’t feel it was right. I had (and have) an obligation to patients that wouldn’t allow it. Also, I was raised with a strong Catholic upbringing, with the mantra: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” always in my mind. Sharing these things about me will hopefully help voters to feel that I will always act in their best interests.
If you win this position, what accomplishment would make your term in office a success?
To somehow, directly or indirectly, make a difference in a child’s life, and make those whom I serve, feel respected and listened to.
What are your views on fiscal policy, government spending and the handling of taxpayer dollars in the office you are seeking?
I am very detail-oriented. While the “big picture” is important in many aspects of government, regarding spending, if one just focuses on the big picture, I think it would be doing taxpayers a disservice. To make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely, as a school board member should do, I will go over the budget very carefully, paying attention to small details. While some may find this tedious, I find it necessary. I grew up without much financially, which has taught me to save and spend only when necessary. “Waste not, want not” was a phrase reiterated often in my household. Important to note, however, is another saying I believe is important, at least in regards to school districts: “you get what you pay for.” In other words, one cannot provide a high quality education, unless significant money is spent. Of course, managing district finances is a careful balancing act. Before my current job at a federally funded health clinic, I worked in private practice, where the costs of running a practice had to be carefully considered, given the revenue it generated. Rising health care costs and the burden it has placed on Americans forces physicians to manage patients in a way that is cost effective, carefully weighing the necessity of certain tests and procedures with their costs . I will bring this type of thinking to the school board, along with my background in math (I majored in math for a good portion of my undergraduate career), to make sure district spending is appropriate.
Do you support Black Lives Matter and what are your thoughts on the demonstrations held since the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake?
I support all groups, including Black Lives Matter, whose goal is to better the lives of its members, and who join together to bring justice to those who are not receiving it. My heart does break for anyone treated unfairly or of course whose life is lost because of this. I support peaceful protests in the name of whatever beliefs someone has, be it Black Lives Matter or any other cause. It saddens me that these protests can at times become violent.
Do you think the current board has done enough to support racial equality, and if not, what specifically should be done to do so?
Our district recently has spent significant time exploring equity issues, with a new policy that recently went into effect. However, knowing if this is enough, is to be determined–one has to evaluate how the policy is working. Since I am not currently on the board, and am at the moment only aware of things that go on at the school that the general public is aware of, or that my daughter tells me, I can’t say for sure. If elected to the board, I will have to explore this further. My experiences working at a highly diverse medical clinic, will definitely assist in this endeavor.
What are your thoughts on the district’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic? Are you in favor of remote learning, in-person learning or a hybrid of the two? Do you support a mask mandate for students and school staff, or mandatory coronavirus testing for both students and staff?
I spoke about the district’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic previously: I wish the district offered opportunities for in-person learning sooner than they were able to. They developed a hybrid plan that went into effect Jan. 19, 2021. The plan they developed was a good one, but, I wish it had been implemented sooner.
School closures have been devastating to the health and well-being of our children. The benefits of in-person versus remote learning are vast. Since researching the data from spring 2020 school reopenings in Europe and other countries, I have since June 2020, in agreement with the American Academy of Pediatrics, advocated for a safe return to in-person learning, following AAP guidelines for such. Since then, even more data has surfaced revealing that schools can reopen safely, with certain mitigations in place. While even with mitigations, no one can guarantee that the spread of COVID won’t occur, the chances of that happening are so slim, that the risks of it are greatly outweighed by the benefits in-person learning provides.
However, to comply with AAP and other recommendations, it would’ve been very difficult to open schools fully without some sort of a hybrid plan in place. Hence, I understood and supported the implementation of hybrid plans, rather than full reopening. So then of course remote learning becomes a necessity as a way to reach those who aren’t in the building. Starting April 5, District 128 is planning to offer four full days per week of in-person learning to those who would like it. I am very excited to hear this. However, my hope is to get back to five days/week of in-person learning very soon.
At this point in the pandemic, I do think masks should be mandated for both students and staff. There’s quite a bit I could say about testing. To keep it simple, while testing shouldn’t be mandatory in order to attend school, and there is plenty of data stating testing of asymptomatic individuals isn’t warranted to prevent the spread of COVID in schools, I certainly understand, at a District like 128 who has vast financial resources, why it is being offered.
When the vaccine is available to them, do you support mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for students and staff?
While the COVID vaccine is helping our society greatly in returning to a more “normal” state, and I’m happy to say I am helping in that endeavor, as I work at a clinic that is distributing it, I would not mandate it. I would hope all students and staff would make their own educated decisions, and look to their health care providers if needed, to reach their own conclusions regarding whether to get them. I believe that with this approach, the majority of people will CHOOSE to be vaccinated, resulting in substantial percentages of protection–certainly substantial enough, to get back to a more “normal” way of living for all.
Is there any reason you would not serve your full term of office, other than those of health or family?
The best advice ever shared with me was ____________
Never give up. If I don’t win a seat on the school board this year, I plan to run again in two years.