Six of the candidates running for the Valley View School District 365U Board took part in a forum Wednesday at Ashbury’s Bar and Grill in Bolingbrook.
Candidates Diane Parro, Debra Savage, Charlotte Droogan, James “JT” Boudouris, Sandra Carlson and Sinatra Strong participated. Board President Steven Quigley was not there because of a work obligation but had a statement read expressing his views. The candidates are running for three seats with four-year terms.
Incumbents Parro, Quigley and Boudouris emphasized the district’s continued growth, academic success and financial stability during their time on the board. Parro said they have provided students with laptops, dramatically expanded students’ success in Advanced Placement classes and continued capital improvement projects, all while maintaining sound finances.
“We have not had to seek a referendum like other school districts around us,” Parro said. “We continue to be fiscally responsible with the tax dollars received from our taxpayers while still coming to a fair contract agreement with our teachers.
Carlson, Droogan and Savage, who are running together on the Bolingbrook United slate of candidates, stressed the importance of taking a more holistic approach to evaluating student success, paying more attention to the mental and emotional health of students, and expanding programs in the arts and music. Carlson, a professional counselor with a practice in Bolingbrook, said she’s concerned about the environment for teachers because of demands and access to resources.
“I’m worried about teachers,” Carlson said. “What I sense is that the joy of teaching is gone.”
There were a couple of areas in which most, if not all, candidates agreed.
Most said the board needs to change the two pay scales for newer and more experienced teachers by either getting rid of it or at least making the difference less stark. Boudouris said when the district implemented the two tracks in about 2012, they were ahead of the curve in an effort to save money.
The board will be in charge of the process of finding a new superintendent before the retirement of James Mitchem after next school year. Many candidates commended Mitchem’s performance.
District 365U covers Romeoville and Bolingbrook and draws students from neighboring communities. It’s the state’s eighth largest school district with more than 16,000 students, the majority of whom are nonwhite and low-income, according to the Illinois State Board of Education’s Report Card.