Alexander Grados, Sycamore School District 427 Board of Education election questionnaire

Election 2024
Sycamore School District 427 Board of Education election candidate Alexander Grados

Full Name: Alexander Grados

What office are you seeking? Sycamore 427 Board of Education

What is your political party? This is a non-partisan election

What is your current age? 19

Occupation and Employer: Accountancy Student at Northern Illinois University

What offices, if any, have you previously held?

City: Sycamore

Campaign Website: https://www.gradosforsycamoreboe.com/

Education: Sycamore High School Graduate- Class of 2022

Community involvement: I volunteer on the Friendship Team, based out of the Sycamore United Methodist Church. We partner with World Relief DuPage/Aurora – an organization that helps displaced people who recently arrived in the United States. As a team, we assist newly settled refugee families assimilate into their new lives here. Tasks we work on include helping with budgeting, grocery shopping, and administrative work. Additionally, I have volunteered at an after-school program, World Relief hosts, that offers student team social activities. I have also volunteered with World Relief to provide one-on-one tutoring.

Marital status/Immediate family: I am not married, nor do I have children.

Why are you running for office?

I am running because I would like to help ensure that Sycamore continues to be a School District that provides the best possible education to its students. During and after the pandemic, I have felt that students and staff have lost some connections and bonds they had before the pandemic. As a result, I have seen and heard about a need for student’s social and emotional health support to increase.

I also feel strongly about giving the families and students a voice that the Board of Education will hear. I am very willing to listen and respond to feedback from parents, students, and other community members.

What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?

As a recent graduate of the School District, with a sibling who is still a student in the District, I have first-hand experience seeing what is going well and potential growth areas. I have also attended Sycamore School Board Meetings regularly since the pandemic, so I know the District’s current administrative happenings, goals, and challenges.

Have you sought and/or received any training to run for your local school board? If so, from whom?

I have attended three online webinars produced by the IASB (Illinois Association of School Boards.) The webinars helped me get an understanding of the petitioning and filing processes. They have also been beneficial in fully understanding what is and what is not the role of a School Board Member. One of the webinars even hosted Sycamore School Board member Stephen Nelson as a guest speaker. Hearing his perspectives as a tenured Board Member was very insightful.

Would you propose any changes to the curriculum? If so, what?

I do not think it would be responsible for me to offer an opinion on any curriculum changes without getting more information from parents, teachers, and administrators.

Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district?

I believe that they are.

What is your assessment of how Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is handled in your school district?

I have always felt that the Sycamore Community, including its School District, has welcomed and accepted everyone.

Do you believe the district needs to make any changes to improve DEI in your district?

Because I am not a Board Member, I do not have enough information to offer an opinion on any changes to improve DEI in the district. However, as I said earlier, I have always felt that the Sycamore Community, including its School District, has welcomed and accepted everyone.

Are teachers in your district paid adequately now and in retirement?

Sycamore seems to pay competitively compared to surrounding School Districts with similar per-pupil revenue.

Would you support changes to teacher pay scales? If so, how?

The Current SEA (Sycamore Educational Association) Professional Agreement lasts through Fiscal Year 2026, so there are no immediate changes that the Board can make. Without a complete understanding of the SEA and School Board’s collective bargaining process, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to share any opinions regarding future teacher compensation.

What is your assessment of the district superintendent’s compensation?

As I stated regarding teacher compensation, I believe the superintendent in Sycamore is paid competitively compared to surrounding School Districts with similar per-pupil revenue.

Would you make any changes to how the district superintendent is compensated?

As I stated earlier, the superintendent seems to be paid competitively. I do not have enough information to opine specific changes to his compensation.

Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.

As a Board Member, my job would be to help support and enable the Superintendent to execute the Board’s collective decisions. Going into this position with an unbiased, neutral, and receptive mindset toward the Superintendent and all other faculty will be the best thought process for being the most productive Board Member I can be.

Should schools in your district adopt and teach sex education according to the National Sex Education Standards? Please explain.

I support the District’s current position on Sexual Education.

What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?

From my conversations with people in Illinois education, there were so many moving targets and mandates from the state that it was highly challenging for Districts to make decisions regarding the pandemic. Any decisions could not have pleased everyone, and I respect and appreciate the efforts and work put in by the current Board over COVID-19.

What did you learn from the pandemic?

I learned how much colleagues, students, and I value seeing friends and spending time with one another. I also think that the pandemic brought to my attention a lot of social and emotional challenges that today’s students face that I would like to help address.

Are voters that support your district taxed at an appropriate level?

I think that Sycamore is very prudent with taxpayer dollars. During my IASB candidate training, I learned the wide range of per-pupil revenue in districts across Illinois. The lowest per-pupil revenue is about $6,500, while the highest is around $39,000. Sycamore’s revenue per pupil, I believe, is around $15,000, which is comparable to our neighboring Districts. I think the District’s levy is reasonable for the quality of education offered in Sycamore. I also have learned that the reason Illinois education is so heavily reliant on property taxes seems to be legislation at the state level, not the district level.

Would you support any plans to raise taxes in the district? If so, what should the additional revenue be spent on?

I would have to gather more information on specific projects and others’ opinions on tax raises. From what I understand, the District could only raise taxes through referendums voted on by stakeholders. Those referendums have to be spent on capital improvements. I tend to be fiscally conservative, but an open mind is required, especially with the number of capital projects needed across the District over the next five to ten years.

Would you support lowering taxes in the district? If so, what programs or services in the district would you cut?

At this time, there is nothing that I would be comfortable saying I would like to cut. However, I want to be as prudent with taxpayer dollars as possible.

Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?


What is your position on open, transparent government?

I believe that an open, transparent government and school district is paramount to a properly functioning democratic system. It is essential that stakeholders can see what is taking place and be shown that their voices are heard by those elected to serve them.

Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?