DeSchaaf recently filled out the Patch candidate survey, and his answers can be found below:
If you are a candidate for the April election, and would like to answer our Patch candidate questionnaire, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Kevin DeSchaaf
Age (as of Election Day): 42
Town/city of residence: Lockport
School district: Homer 33C
Married to Nicole, and we have 2 daughters – one at Hadley, and one at HJH.
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
BA in English, Minor in Education from Eastern Illinois University
Advertising / Marketing for 20+ years
Campaign website: None.
Previous or current elected or appointed office:
Current member of Homer 33C Board of Education
The single most pressing issue facing our (board, district, etc.) is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
First, we need to get back to the normalcy we enjoyed prior to Covid-19, and that includes not just physically getting back to school safely, but also making adjustments in how we return while understanding how this has impacted the students and staff. Secondarily, we need to address the issues with space in our district as our community continues to grow. This has been an ongoing issue for many years, but we will soon reach a tipping point with new developments coming in and need to make adjustments to improve our learning environments. And thirdly, COVID has shown us what a crisis looks like in education and how we have to react. We’ve learned a great deal about operations through this time, and we need to continue to learn from our reactions so we are always prepared for the unknown as well as we can be.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
It’s difficult to compare myself to those running for the first time prior to our scheduled “Meet the Candidate” night, so I prefer to point to the work I have done on this board over the past 4 years and the experience this term has provided me.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform:
Pre-Covid, there were many conversations occurring about how we are going to address class sizes in a district that remains at a population level at the brink of capacity. With new residential developments set to begin, we need to focus on our use of space and what options we have to develop and organize a system where we can reduce class sizes in an equitable fashion. While I have many priorities for my next term, addressing this pressing issue is at the top.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
This past term has presented many challenges to this board, including a nearly complete turnover of district administration, new curriculum adoption, a complete re-thinking on how we handle transportation, and a multitude of necessary projects to our buildings, and many more. These challenges led to decisions that had many ramifications, and I am proud of the results. I like to think that I am well-prepared for another term and ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
Why should voters trust you?
I take the position of being open and transparent. Many parents know that I am always available for a conversation to help address any concerns. I listen and provide feedback or next steps on issues and like to be a part of the process. To date, I don’t think I have failed in that approach, and I intend to keep working that way.
If you win this position, what accomplishment would make your term in office a success?
I’ve learned that there are so many responsibilities of a school district, and through my first term, this board and administration has focused on each one with the mindset of making progress and moving towards a better result in each of them. That could be student achievement, infrastructure improvements, continuing education offerings for staff, more efficient energy policies, a focus on technology, etc…It’s almost limitless. Success to me would mean that we have taken into account all we can do to improve every aspect of our district and are actively working on enhancements.
What are your views on fiscal policy, government spending and the handling of taxpayer dollars in the office you are seeking?
The board has to be mindful of all stakeholders, and the largest group is the community of taxpayers, including all of us that sit on the board. Every decision we make has to take into account any financial obligations, and it is our duty to take the most responsible approach after extensive review. All of us in this community are aware of the tax burden, and I intend to maintain the approach of responsible spending and looking for any way to become more efficient in all expenditures.
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?
Do you think the current board has done enough to support racial equality, and if not, what specifically should be done to do so?
Throughout my time here as a citizen, parent, and board member, I have seen a district that is inclusive of all backgrounds.
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?
While opinions obviously differ in each of us, I am proud that 33C provided in-person instruction at the start of the 20-21 school year, and but for a few remote stints, has kept the approach through the year. Moving to more in-person days by opening up Wednesdays, and now a plan for a full return are movements that have taken a great deal of thought and conversation. I understand that the hybrid approach is not ideal for all, but outside of the normalcy we are used to, I’m not sure that any of us could truly be satisfied until our children are back to school fully. In a district this large, it has been difficult to maintain our structure, but I feel that we have taken the steps to get our students back in a safe manner. That also includes the initiative taken to get our teachers vaccinated if they choose to, which was not an easy task, as we have to consider all occupants of our buildings to ensure a responsible approach. I am also grateful as a parent knowing that our district was well ahead of others in getting the proper PPE, including N95 masks, and sanitation equipment very early on. When COVID first struck, our administration immediately reacted to obtain everything we would need to get students into the buildings safely.
When the vaccine is available to them, do you support mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for students and staff?
This vaccine is being offered as an emergency effort to stop the effects of the virus. We are years away from having the information that would even make this question a topic.
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:
“Think before you speak.”