Voters will head to the polls tomorrow, April 6th, and choose which of 11 candidates they believe are the best fit to fill 4 open seats on the Barrington 220 Board of Education (BOE). It’s a crowded ballot as the Barrington community also prepares to welcome its new superintendent of Schools, Dr. Robert Hunt, this summer. After an unprecedented year of distance learning and voter approval of a $147M bond referendum for school improvements, voters have been weighing their choices carefully.
To help inform our decisions on election day, we’ve reached out to all on the list of candidates which includes Thomas J. Mitoraj, Lauren Berkowitz Klauer, Jonathan Matta, Erin Chan Ding, Katie Karam, Malgorzata McGonigal, William Betz, Robert Windon and Steve Wang along with incumbents, Sandra Ficke Bradford and Mike Shackleton.
Find all published profiles at 365Barrington.com/220BOE.
We’re wrapping up our candidate profiles today by getting to know a little more about Steve Wang.
From managing the financial strategy of one of the largest health care systems in the U.S. to managing his own household as a single-parent of his first-grade daughter, Steve Wang says he has an instinct to drive process improvement. His corporate finance background and a knack for doing more with less are crucial skills which Steve calls key to dealing with large and complex budgets.
Meet the Candidate: Steve Wang
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?
Steve Wang: I was born in China and raised in Connecticut. I came to the Midwest in 2002 to attend college at the University of Notre Dame. After graduation, and living in Chicago for several years, I moved to Barrington in 2013 shortly before the birth of my daughter, based in large part, on the excellent reputation of the school system. I have lived in Barrington for eight years, and the community renews my faith in the goodness of people. In a world where things are so impersonal, Barrington shows me that the special relationships I recall from my youth still exist in certain special communities; knowing your local grocer, having a backyard conversation with your neighbor, being able to have your children safely play outside, and so many other aspects of community which are often taken for granted today.
365: How would you describe your experience to-date with learning and education in Barrington 220?
Steve Wang: I have a seven-year-old daughter, who is in the first grade of the Chinese Immersion Program at Countryside Elementary School. While I did not attend school locally, my experience with the school system has been extraordinary; administrators, teachers and staff at Countryside truly value our children and care about their success. They are a blessing; their commitment to education is among the factors that has inspired me to run for school board.
365: What is motivating you to run for school board now? How has your experience prepared you and why are you a good fit for the role?
Steve Wang: When I consider the wonderful communities and people that encompass District 220 then contrast that with some of the recent decisions detrimental to both our students and tax-paying residents, I feel compelled to run. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to serve in a variety of roles both in my professional and personal life. Professionally, I manage the financial strategy of one of the largest health care systems in the U.S., and prior to that, I advised multi-national corporations on strategic initiatives. Personally, I am a single parent who runs a household, and still manages to serve on the board of directors for the University of Notre Dame’s local alumni club, be a “room parent”, and co-lead a girl scout troop. Through my various roles, I have learned how to be disciplined, a good listener, and a critical thinker.
365: What are your short-term goals for B220?
My short-term goal is to have the board oversee the development of a comprehensive plan to ensure the parents and children of our district will have a choice to return to in-person learning during this pandemic and any future ones as well. I do not believe the Barrington School Board made the right decision when it counted, and I point to neighboring school districts like Itasca and Rosemont that I believe did. Notably, the Center for Disease Control has warned for decades on how ill-prepared we are as a global community when it comes to personal protective equipment and health care emergency plans, particularly as novel viral strains have been developing at an unprecedented pace.
365: What are your longer-term goals for our school district?
Steve Wang: My long-term goals are 1.) to evaluate the social, emotional, and educational impact on our children for the last year of lost classroom time, 2.) develop a plan to further the educational excellence of our district by allocating funds to programs that will have the largest benefits for our students, while taking into account cost and the public sentiment, and 3.) commit to ensuring that the board will reflect its constituents and not special interests like the Teacher’s Union, which (inappropriately in my opinion) is getting involved in this election. I will be an advocate for lean budgets and taxpayer conscious management. Our community deserves this.
365: What are your biggest concerns for our students and our school district today?
Steve Wang: My single biggest concern is the emotional well-being of our children. The statistics are out there, so I will not quote them, but the fact is that the global preparedness for such an event was poor and the biggest victims of the shelter-at-home mandates were our children. Regardless of what people think of the School Board’s decisions over the past year, the one thing I can say with certainty is that all parties want what is best for our children and we must ensure that this time will not be “lost.” We must treat this episode as a learning opportunity that we will come out of wiser, stronger and better.
365: What do you think are the biggest opportunities we have for our students and school district today?
Steve Wang: In addition to all the challenges and opportunities that have been presented with this pandemic, the biggest change facing this school district is the retirement of Dr. Brian Harris and the appointment of Robert Hunt. As a partner with Mr. Hunt, the board will play a critical role in his integration, and thus his success, which will translate into success for our district. With this change in leadership, we can revisit current practices and introduce new ideas, in the process fostering the rise of new leaders, which is how I see my role.
365: In your view, what should our priorities be as a community in choosing the new school board members?
Steve Wang: In my view, the criteria for selecting school board members is simple: can he/she identify with me and make my life better? The hardest decisions are those where understanding is lacking; I am not speaking to intellectual understanding, but rather empathy and realization of how one’s decision can impact so many. I have a first grader in the district, so through my interaction with other parents, I have a pulse on the district’s needs and wants. Further, by trade, I am trained to be a good listener and consider all possible outcomes when making decisions that can have an impact on a population.
365: What’s at risk with the wrong leadership in place?
Steve Wang: The risk of having the wrong leadership in place is simple: creating an environment that is not in the best interest of the students and misusing the hard-earned money of the taxpayers who fund our district. I have made a career of strategic thinking and commit to using all these skills to forward the mission of our district with fiscal responsibility being a key priority.
365: Do you have any favorite role models who made a lasting impact on you & why?
Steve Wang: The single most important influence in my life is my paternal grandfather. Sadly, both his parents died before he reached adolescence and due to the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s, he was drafted into the army while still a child. After he served in the military, he escaped to Taiwan because he was on Mao Zedong’s list of Kuomingtang officers to assassinate. While in Taiwan, he built a business from the ground up. Even though he made “loans” he knew would never get settled, he still did it to help his fellow man. When he emigrated to the U.S. and started from scratch again, he made sure to never forget the importance of helping his fellow man and doing right, even if it meant sacrificing himself. Through his selfless example, he taught me that doing what is right may not always be easy, but it must be done, and as citizens, it is our responsibility to always do good.
365: Any favorite words to live by? From whom and why?
Steve Wang: My favorite quote is from Alfred Lord Tennyson: “To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield”. I read this as saying life will have challenges, but to not give up your principles in achieving your goals.
365: What’s one of your favorite things to do or places to be in Barrington, with whom and why?
Steve Wang: In such a diverse community with so many different offerings from entertainment to culture and fine dining, it is hard for me to pinpoint just one activity or place I would call my favorite. That said, if I had to pick just one, it would simply be spending time with friends in town along with my daughter. Thanks to the open nature of the Barrington community and the ability to embrace all neighbors, I feel very at home, am very grateful to be a part of this community and want to give back.
365: Any other question or questions that you’d like to answer or things you’d like to share?
Steve Wang: If elected, I will bring a fresh perspective to the Board, with a unique view as an Asian-American whose family escaped Communism. I have a corporate finance background, an instinct to drive process improvement, and a knack for doing more with less, all crucial skills when dealing with large and complex budgets. I am a good listener who thinks through problems and arrives at solutions that consider the consequences of those decisions. I will honorably represent the people of Barrington and be accountable as the district continues to grow and improve, while making the most of the precious funding that we are allotted from our taxpayers.
Voter priorities in this election include refining best practices after lessons learned during Covid-19, the future education and safety of our students and stewardship of the $147M voter-approved bond referendum for planned school improvements, district-wide. There have been two candidate forums in March. Barrington 220’s PTO President’s Council hosted the first forum on March 3rd.
The second candidates forum was hosted on March 13th by the League of Women Voters, Palatine Area.
Barry Altshuler, Leah Collister-Lazzari and Angela Wilcox will remain in their positions. Board President, Penny Kazmier and Gavin Newman are not seeing reelection. Incumbents, Sandra Ficke-Bradford and Mike Shackleton are among the eleven who will be on the April 6th, 2021 ballot.
Stay tuned for more Barrington 220 Board of Education candidate profiles in the days ahead. With the April 6th election fast approaching and early voting underway now, we’ll be sharing our final profiles this week.
Find all published profiles at 365Barrington.com/220BOE.
Barrington’s 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 Barrington220.org.