Candidate profile: Laura Jacobi Van Hook

Laura Jacobi-Van Hook
Laura Jacobi-Van Hook

Name: Laura Jacobi Van Hook

Age: 60

Family: Eric Van Hook, husband; Children- Ashley Zweigart, Casey Brauer, Alex Hardt and Jacob Van Hook

Town: O’Fallon

Office Seeking: O’Fallon School District 203 Board of Education member

Occupation: Associate Adjunct Professor at Lindenwood University

Previous and current elected offices and terms served: None

Why are you running? I am running to ensure that the excellence in education is a continued commitment at OTHS. I want to see that the opportunities for students to reach their full potential are maximized. I also want to make sure that the school board is responsive and receptive to parents, teachers and all groups when making decisions.

What is the most important issues facing O’Fallon Township High School? How would you approach it? Without a doubt finances are a major problem. The unpredictability of the state of Illinois releasing funds to our schools makes it extremely difficult. As a board, we need to come together and explore options during these challenging times. However, my experience gives me the knowledge to understand how our decisions affect students and their education.

Should a school district’s teacher demographics mirror that of its student demographics? Why or why not? It’s my belief that every public agency, including schools, should strive to be a reflection of their community.

How much emphasis should your school district put on STEM education? Knowing the curriculum at OTHS, I think the district does an outstanding job of offering classes that address STEM education. OTHS also does an excellent job of offering a multitude of classes in a variety of other disciplines, which I believe are equally important.

In St. Clair County, there will be votes on two sales tax referendums. One would benefit school facility costs, one would benefit public safety. Do you support either or both of the referendums? Why or why not? In principle, it’s difficult to support tax increases when many families are struggling with taxes. The school and public safety tax proposals highlight concerns that definitely need to be addressed. However, raising taxes is not always the correct answer.

Why should people vote for you? I will bring a wealth of experience to the board. I also have a firm understanding of how our budget cuts will impact our students, which is our greatest asset. As we move forward, we need to involve the community and teachers as we work through these challenging times.

How should the school district approach current budgetary challenges? We can never lose sight of our motto, “Excellence in Education.” We need to evaluate ALL areas and make smart decisions that have the least amount of impact on our students.