September 28, 2023


Cathy Dremel, Batavia Public Schools District 101 BOE election questionnaire

Batavia Public Schools District 101 Board of Education candidate Cathy Dremel

Full Name: Cathy Dremel

What office are you seeking? School Board

What is your political party? None

What is your current age? 55

Occupation and Employer: Teacher at St. Charles East High School

What offices, if any, have you previously held? BPS101 School Board since 2011

City: Batavia

Education: Bachelor of Science in Commerce from DePaul University

Masters of Business Administration from Northern Illinois University

Bachelor of Science in Math from Chadron State University

State Teaching Licensure Program at Northern Illinois University

Community involvement: BPS101 School Board 2011 to present

Marital status/Immediate family: Three children all of whom were graduates of Batavia Public Schools

Why are you running for office?

We moved to Batavia because of the great schools. During the years I was a stay at home mom, I volunteered extensively in our schools and community and grew to love the Batavia School District. I also think that education is the cornerstone of our society and the most important thing we can offer our children is an excellent education and the opportunities an education provides. I love school board work and want to continue serving the community in this manner.

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

I am a well rounded candidate with a wealth of relevant experience for the position. I have an MBA and 15 years experience in the business world. I have been a parent with children in Batavia schools, an empty nester with no children in the schools, a school board member, and 6 years ago I became a teacher which means I have been every kind of stakeholder. I am professional, thoughtful and collaborative with a solid set of accomplishments achieved by the district during my tenure. These include having made major strides in addressing the financial health of the district and have gone from being on the state’s financial warning to financial recognition which has eliminated our need to issue Tax Anticipation Warrants for the first time in decades. We have overhauled our health insurance plan while still offering excellent benefits to our employees, which has resulted in dramatic savings for the district. We negotiated a new salary plan with our teachers in our last bargain to improve the quality of our professional development and better manage our salary increases. But there is a still a great deal of work to do, especially post-pandemic. I have the skills, education and experience to continue being a strong member of the school board as we work toward our new goals.

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

I have had extensive training from the Illinois Association of School Boards and 12 years experience.

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

No. The curriculum is based on state standards and addresses “what” will be taught. We have a strong collaborative process for developing and reviewing curriculum and Batavia focuses on helping students become thinkers and learners. We are always willing to dig deep and ask hard questions of ourselves about what we are teaching. I trust our process will help us keep refining our curriculum over time and even though there will always be people who are unhappy with what we are teaching, I firmly believe in our process.

Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district?

It is hard to make a sweeping generality on the behalf of any student, but I believe BPS101 is incredibly supportive of, and fair to, LGBTQ students in the district. The difficulty is that each student is unique, and what works and satisfies one student, may not do the same for another. Our philosophy in Batavia is to try to treat each student as an individual and support them by meeting their specific needs. We have gone above and beyond mandated requirements by creating procedures specifically to support transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming students as well as creating an equity team to focus on broader issues of inclusion and belonging.

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

I believe there are opposing views on this topic. There are voices in our community that believe we are moving too slowly in this area, and voices that believe we are moving too quickly. I believe we are making strides in this area, but that it is not an easy path. This is a work in progress, but I believe that regardless of systemic, structural changes, we still need to be strongly aware of students as individuals and not assume that we can categorize students by some external factor and assume that all students with that factor have the same needs.

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

We should always be reflective and responsive to ALL work we are doing in our district and changes and improvements should stem from that process of reflection. Sadly, I don’t believe our Equity Committee has accomplished the work that the Board has envisioned and that it is time to dig in deeply and see why we don’t have measurable goals and an ability to track our progress in meeting those goals from this group.

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

Teachers in Batavia are paid competitively with the districts in our county. Based on the number of teachers who teach as well as live in our community, I believe this indicates that our salary allows for a comfortable living. The Illinois Teachers Retirement System still provides a generous defined benefit retirement plan even though there were necessary changes to the plan which impact younger teachers, especially when compared to the benefits offered teachers who started teaching prior to 2011.

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

No. We collaboratively negotiated a non-standard salary schedule during our last round of contract talks and we believe this plan provides great opportunities for salary growth while minimizing out of pocket expenses for further education for our employees. This salary schedule also focuses compensation increases on skills and areas that we have identified as priorities for our district.

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

Batavia is in the lower half of compensation for superintendents even though our current superintendent is highly skilled and experienced. This is reflective of our very conservative approach to administrator compensation.

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


Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.

Our current superintendent is retiring at the end of June and because I am already a Board member I was part of the interview and hiring process for the new superintendent who starts this summer. So yes, I support the outgoing as well as the incoming superintendents.

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

We have not adopted those standards, nor do we intend to. We have a solid K-12 curriculum, with input from partners such as Mutual Ground to ensure that our sex education is age appropriate and effective.

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

I believe that following the lead of the Kane County Health Department was the most prudent decision we could have made. Harkening the guidance of our public health organization seems the only appropriate choice, regardless of personal beliefs, preferences or opinions.

What did you learn from the pandemic?

Remote education is NOT good for students and I will do everything in my power to ensure we never close down school again.

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

I believe that property taxes are a significant cost for residents in our community. That said, we are prudent with our budget, while trying to offer the best education and opportunities to students in our district. Schools are highly valued in Batavia, and schools are funded by property taxes. Based on the fact that our population has stayed steady even in uncertain financial times, I believe that is a sign that overall, our community members see a value in paying the property taxes needed to support our schools.

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


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


The only way to make a significant cut in the budget for our district would be to dramatically cut staffing rates as salaries are by far the biggest portion of our expenses.

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

Of course.

What is your position on open, transparent government?

I believe that we are open and transparent and that is necessary for people to have trust in government. The difficulty is that the school district is in the “people” business and community members sometimes struggle to understand that we can share certain facts, but that many of the things that happen with regards to students or employees are covered by privacy laws. Thus privacy or protection of students is often mistaken for a lack of transparency.

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

Of course I do.

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