Meet the Candidates Running for Barrington 220 Board of Education | Malgorzata McGonigal

5 mins read

With eleven candidates running for four open seats on Barrington 220’s Board of Education (BOE), it’s a crowded race. There were 12 in the running but one candidate, Alex Strobl, has opted out.

Voter priorities in this election include the future of learning during & beyond COVID-19 plus stewardship of the $147M voter-approved bond referendum for planned school improvements, district-wide.

Barry Altshuler, Leah Collister-Lazzari and Angela Wilcox will remain in their positions. Board President, Penny Kazmier and Gavin Newman are not seeking reelection. Incumbents, Sandra Ficke-Bradford and Mike Shackleton are among the eleven who will be on the April 6th, 2021 ballot.

To help inform our decisions on election day, we’ve reached out to all candidates. In addition to the incumbents, they include Thomas J. Mitoraj, Lauren Berkowitz KlauerJonathan Matta, Erin Chan Ding, Katie Karam, Robert Windon, William Betz, Steve Wang and Malgorzata (Maggie) McGonigal. We’ll be sharing each profile between now and election day.

Today, we’re getting to know more about candidate, Malgorzata McGonigal, who says number one on her list of priorities for Barrington 220 is getting our children back at school FULL TIME along with resuming all sports and extracurricular school activities.

Meet the Candidate: Malgorzata McGonigal

365: Where is your original home and family? What brought you to Barrington? How long have you lived here and what do you love about our community?

Malgorzata McGonigal: I am originally from Poland, born there in 1977. I grew up in Communism and as a child always dreamed about living in the United States and pursuing the American dream. In 1994 I was able to temporarily move to California as an exchange student. A year later I graduated early from California High School and had the chance to attend UCLA on scholarship, but after my parents begged me to come home I ended up heading back to Poland to study medicine. However, after a year of medical school I realized that direction was not for me and moved to the laboratory side of education where I received my degree in electrophoresis (to this day my mother is still mad that I didn’t become a doctor). After school was finished I had another opportunity to come back and live full-time in the USA – which is what I wanted – and obviously I’m still here! My parents and other family are still overseas and I do visit frequently.

Malgorzata McGonigal: Sixteen years ago I was driving north on Rt. 59 with my daughter (who was two at the time) and went through some of the Barrington area. I was completely unfamiliar with the region at the time but it was breathtaking and I fell in love with it immediately. I said to my daughter, “Hun, one day we are going to live here.” As luck and fate would have it, I married a man from this area and a little over a year ago moved from my long-time residency in Mt. Prospect to North Barrington.

365: How would you describe your experience to-date with education in Illinois and learning in Barrington 220?

Malgorzata McGonigal: My family consists of my husband Bryan, my eighteen year old daughter Olivia who graduated Prospect High School in May 2020, my ten year old son Kevin who is currently a fifth grader at North Barrington Elementary, and my sixteen year old stepson AJ who is currently a sophomore at Barrington High School. I always considered District 220 as one of the best districts in the region and rankings. Unfortunately with the changes due to the pandemic mandates, I have to state that the unusual remote learning option is currently at best a mediocre to poor solution.

365: What is motivating you to run for school board now and why are you a good fit for the role?

Malgorzata McGonigal: What motivates me to run for school board are our children. They are our future and they deserve the best education out there. This is America, and unlike where I grew up everyone here can have that opportunity! We definitely need to improve the direction of our educational system as a whole as it has been progressively failing. We need to improve the importance of quality education, especially in areas such as US history, world history, geography and economics. It’s critical for our children to know world differences so they can understand the more complex realities as young adults.

I can confidently say that, from my upbringing, I personally know some of the possible alternatives in society and they are far from great. We as a community – and as Americans – need to work together for our children NOW and for their future!

365: What are your short-term goals for Barrington 220?

Malgorzata McGonigal: Number one on the list is getting our children back at school FULL TIME along with resuming all sports and extracurricular school activities. Our children are essential, their mental health is essential and our teachers are essential workers! Unfortunately some people do not seem to understand how crucial it is for the mental and social development of our children as it relates to the normal school environment. Remote learning stalls this progress and is creating anxiety, depression, health problems and more that tends to be overlooked… but it also stifles hopes and opportunities for those who come from less fortunate communities. We have to look at the bigger picture and understand that for many kids school may be the one place for them that provides a friendly environment, warm meal, access to internet and books plus everything else that provides a true sense of a better future.

365: What are your longer-term goals for our school district?

Malgorzata McGonigal:

  • We need to bring back teaching and core values at our schools. History is to be learned, remembered and in many cases not repeated.
  • People on the school board should also have children in schools. Term limits must be applied so participation doesn’t become strictly personal interests.
  • Residents in the school districts should have access to school financials (budget, spending, etc). Public schools are taxpayer funded so this information should be public for those who are paying for it.
  • Our community needs to have a bigger voice when it comes to our children and their education. Greater involvement in surveys and direction is necessary and more say in future school and program changes should be a right. Remember that our public schools are just that – public – and they are publicly funded.
  • We need to strive to have the best teachers available, which usually corresponds to the ones that always make the children their priority and want to teach!
  • Improving resources – I don’t believe we utilize all available sources as knowledgeable sources for our children. We need more “thinking outside the box” to complement the current teaching agendas.
  • Revamping the union mentality which clearly does affect some work habits. Taxpayers in the districts should not be held hostage. Though a charter school approach won’t necessarily work on a large public scale, it can help reshape the mindset of what’s really needed that’s best for both the children and educators.
  • Last but not least, WE CANNONT LET SCHOOLS EVER CLOSE AGAIN. Regardless of the pandemic situation, what’s happened with the schools is absolutely unacceptable.

365: Any favorite words to live by? From whom and why?

Malgorzata McGonigal: My favorite quote is, “It was a joy of admiration and of one’s own ability growing together.” — Dagny Taggart

Stay tuned for more Barrington 220 Board of Education candidate profiles in the weeks ahead. We’ve reached out to all twelve of them and are publishing profiles in the order in which we receive. 

View all published profiles at

Our schools are a big part of what gives Barrington its unique character and we appreciate all who are willing to help lead the way on behalf of Barrington families, children and young adults.

Formed in 1973, Barrington Community Unit School District 220 educates over 9,000 students at one high school, two middle schools (grades 6-8), eight elementary schools, and one early childhood center. District 220 encompasses 72 square miles in 4 counties and covers 12 villages: all of Barrington, Lake Barrington, Tower Lakes; and portions of Barrington Hills, Carpentersville, Deer Park, Fox River Grove, Port Barrington, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, North Barrington, and South Barrington. Learn more at

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