Full Name: Stephanie O’Neill Macro
What office are you seeking? Community High School District 155 Board of Education
What is your political party? This a Non-Partisan Election. However, I tend to vote in the Democrat primary.
What is your current age? 53
Occupation and Employer: Attorney; Locke Lord LLP
What offices, if any, have you previously held? None
Campaign Website: www.friendsofsmacro.com
Education: Boston University, Bachelor of Arts
Loyola University Chicago - School of Law, Juris Doctorate
Community involvement: Bernotas Middle School PTO Volunteer
Northern Illinois Food Bank Volunteer
Marital status/Immediate family: Married with 2 children
Why are you running for office?
I am running for school board because I have a vested interest in the quality of the education the district provides as I am the proud parent of a current and future student attending a school in this district. There is no one issue that motivated me to run. Rather, I have an earnest desire to ensure broadly that the district is providing a 21st century education that values individuals and academic excellence. D155 has a strong reputation for good schools. I want to help ensure that the D155 maintains this reputation by engaging in continuous evaluation and improvement of all aspects of delivering the best education possible to each student in the district.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
I have served previously in board roles for my townhome association board and as a member of the founding board of directors of Sit Stay Read!, a not-for-profit organization. In both roles, I worked to address policy and governance issues facing the respective organization. Further, in my professional role as an attorney, I frequently work with other professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. I am often called upon to help solve difficult problems while also navigating competing interests. In these situations, I first ask a lot of questions to truly understand the needs, goals, and motivations of those involved. I want to understand all sides of an issue before jumping to conclusions or reaching flawed conclusions. This same focus on listening and understanding, coupled with practical problem-solving skills, will serve me well as a newcomer to the board of education.
Have you sought and/or received any training to run for your local school board? If so, from whom?
Yes. Democratic Party of McHenry County.
Would you propose any changes to the curriculum? If so, what?
I do not have a particular agenda when it comes to curriculum. But, I strongly support continuous evaluation of the curriculum to ensure (1) it is consistent with current best practices and evidenced based research and data relating to high school education; and (2) the curriculum is serving the needs of all students, which means meeting the needs of a student body with a diverse set of needs.
Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district?
I do not have enough specific first hand information to determine whether District 155 treats LGBTQ students fairly. However, I think generally there is work to be done to ensure all kids feel safe, supported and respected in D155 whether that is because they are LGBTQ, a minority, neurodivergent, etc. If a student does not feel safe, supported and respected at school, they will not be able to learn and succeed to their fullest potential.
What is your assessment of how Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is handled in your school district?
I am a big proponent of continuous evaluation and improvement. I believe there is work that can and should be done to ensure all students feel safe, supported and respected. My understanding is the District engaged a third party to conduct an Equity Audit and received that report in Spring of 2022. I think it is incumbent on the Board of Education and District to consider the findings and take steps to address issues identified in the audit.
Do you believe the district needs to make any changes to improve DEI in your district?
I think all successful organizations should engage in continuous evaluation and improvement. I believe additional work can be done to ensure that all students feel safe, supported and respected. I believe the District should leverage the Equity Audit that was conducted to identify changes that will have the most impactful effect on creating a safe, supportive and respectful learning environment for all students.
Are teachers in your district paid adequately now and in retirement?
I think the District needs to ensure that teachers are compensated in a manner that allows the District to retain and attract high performing, motivated, talented teachers to the District.
Would you support changes to teacher pay scales? If so, how?
I do not presently have sufficient information and data to have a opinion. I believe teachers need to be fairly compensated to be able to retain and attract high performing teachers. I also am cognizant of the fact that the District has finite financial resources. In order to support a decision to change teacher pay scales, I would want to give thoughtful analysis to relevant market data and the rationale supporting changes to the teacher pay scales.
What is your assessment of the district superintendent’s compensation?
The current Board of Education just went through an extensive search to hire a new superintendent to replace the current retiring superintendent. It is my expectation that during the hiring process the current Board of Education conducted an analysis of the fair market value of the superintendent’s compensation which informed the contract terms for the new superintendent.
Would you make any changes to how the district superintendent is compensated?
No, not at this time.
Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.
I look forward to meeting the newly hired superintendent and for him and the District doing great things in the future.
Should schools in your district adopt and teach sex education according to the National Sex Education Standards? Please explain.
Yes. High school students should be presented with fact based sex education. It is up to parents, outside of school, to teach their own children their values relating to sex and related issues.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
While I may have done some things differently, I believe the current Board of Education did a reasonable job of balancing all the competing very important interests and adapting as information and data evolved. There was no one perfect solution to the situation that would have been best for all students. Accordingly, I believe the current board did a reasonable job handling COVID-19 and did what they genuinely believed was best for all involved stakeholders in the District.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
We need to be able to adapt and no one size fits all solution ever really works. We need to be able to analyze and asses data to inform our decisions. And, we need to be able to adjust as new information, data and circumstances present themselves. We need to engage in continuous evaluation and improvement regardless of the issue.
Are voters that support your district taxed at an appropriate level?
At present, yes. This must be assessed from year-to-year depending on the district’s budget and the current economic environment.
Would you support any plans to raise taxes in the district? If so, what should the additional revenue be spent on?
As a tax payer in McHenry county, I understand that we have high taxes. But, I also believe our taxes are, in part, an investment in our children and education. I would thoughtfully consider any proposal to raise taxes based on the data and rational presented to justify such increase. Whether I would support a tax increase would depend on the specific facts surrounding the need for a tax increase.
Would you support lowering taxes in the district? If so, what programs or services in the district would you cut?
No. I view taxes, in part, as an investment in our children’s education. I believe the District has engaged in sound fiscal practices to date, but to reduce taxes would impede the district’s ability to provide a quality education to our students that prepares them to succeed in higher education, the job force, or the military after graduation.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
What is your position on open, transparent government?
I believe open and transparent government is essential.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
Yes, within the confines of the law.