Devon Hubbard Tessmer, Crystal Lake School District 47 Board of Education election questionnaire

Election 2024
Crystal Lake School District 47 Board of Education candidate Devon Hubbard Tessmer

Full Name: Devon Hubbard Tessmer

What office are you seeking? D47 Board Member

What is your political party? Independent

What is your current age? 39

Occupation and Employer: VP of Business Development & HR at Exemplar in Crystal Lake

What offices, if any, have you previously held? I have not held any public offices. I have only served on not-for profit boards.

City: Crystal Lake

Education: I have my bachelors degree in Elementary Education.

Community involvement: I am an active member of Leadership Greater McHenry County and the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. I served on the CASA of McHenry County board for over two terms. I am currently on the PTO Board for my child’s District 47 school.

Marital status/Immediate family: I am married with two children.

Why are you running for office?

I am motivated to continue serving because I love my community and I want to do what is best for the kids, taxpayers, and D47 team members. I am not running to serve on the board because of a particular issue or agenda. I am a lifelong community member who is passionate about our school system and the importance of the role it plays in a healthy community.

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

I have been a resident of Crystal Lake for most of my life and went through D47 and D155 myself as a student. I currently have one child in the district and the other will soon be in kindergarten so I will continue to have children in the district for the entire 4 year term for which I am running and beyond. I am an active member of my child’s PTO, and a current sitting member of the board of education. I am committed to Crystal Lake for the long-term. I have served on not-for profit organization boards and volunteered my time for many community organizations. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in elementary education; and I am currently the HR Solutions manager for our local family business. I believe all of these things make me qualified for sitting on the board of education for District 47.

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

As a current D47 Board Member, I have received training essential to understanding the role and duties of a school board member. I have been actively engaged in learning about the district and all 13 campuses since I joined the board. I have not received any formal training about how to run and election or specifically about running a campaign for the board of education.

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

As a school board member, my role is not to propose curriculum changes but rather to make sure we have the right team members in place on the Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Department. Unfortunately curriculum mandates are typically dictated by state or federal legislation and are interlaced into the curriculum by the CIA department or a curriculum committee made up of administration and teachers. Curriculum adoptions occur when updated resources are needed to support instruction in the classroom. Adoptions are vetted by the administration and curriculum committees who then provide a recommendation to the board. When the recommendation comes before the board, I am one of seven votes.

Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district?

District 47′s mission statement is to “Empower ALL Students”. This vision cannot be met unless each and every student is valued and heard. As a result, efforts are focused on meeting each and every student where they are at and moving them forward. The D47 team members work diligently every day to support and help students overcome challenges and embrace strengths in order to reach their potential.

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

I believe District 47 has taken a thoughtful approach to looking at and addressing diversity, equity and inclusion. This year, small groups of staff from each building and the district are engaging in professional development to discuss how the practices, policies and/or procedures may not allow or welcome students to access all elements of their education and reach their potential within D47.

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

Aside from what I stated in the last question I do not believe that any changes are immediately necessary. District 47 has begun it’s discussions about the framework of support for students at the adult level. Until reflection has been done and decisions made in those areas, changes at the classroom level would be isolated and disjointed negatively impacting the students.

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

I believe teachers are an essential part of our community. If people didn’t see or understand that prior to COVID, it became very clear during the pandemic. Our district pays adequately compared to other surrounding elementary districts but I think teachers are generally underpaid and this is a systemic issue.

In terms of retirement, teachers contribute into the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) instead of social security. The TRS program was created by the Illinois General Assembly for teachers who work within the public schools in Illinois and is overseen by laws specific to the program via the Illinois pension code. As a result, local school boards do not have control over how teacher retirement is handled.

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

Currently most pay scales are driven by a person’s time in the district and the amount of college coursework that they have completed. I would like to see teachers paid in a manner that honors and represents not only their time in the district and amount of schooling but their impact on the students and the students, growth and development.

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

I believe that the superintendent’s compensation is comparable to the industry standard as well as contracts in McHenry County for her role and years of experience in the role.

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

I would not make any changes to the superintendent’s compensation as we want to ensure that we can attract and retain quality employees for every role in the district.

Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.

I support the superintendent of District 47. She is a professional who runs an organization of over 1500 employees and she does it well. She has an intelligent, open minded and thoughtful approach to the role and I respect her for this.

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

Standards are typically not adopted at the district level. Standards are typically created, adopted and mandated from the state level. Districts then adopt resources and/or curriculum that include or align with the mandated standards. The National Sex Education Standards were adopted by the state of Illinois but not mandated for the districts. Instead, the state allowed districts to determine at the local level what should and shouldn’t be taught from those standards above and beyond already mandated topics. District 47 did not adopt the standards but instead reviewed the existing curriculum to determine if any of the additional topics from the standards needed to be incorporated within the context of our local community needs. I supported and continue to support that decision.

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

Locally, I believe that people did the best that they could handling the pandemic. A main challenge at the local level was having mandates and constantly changing health requirements for our community passed, extended and/or required by the state and organizations outside our community without input or consideration at the local level. As a result, schools became a focal point for differing opinions in the community regarding pandemic mandates and health requirements, which became an additional element managed at the local level.

What did you learn from the pandemic?

The pandemic brought to light how essential a school district is to the daily functioning of our community. Schools not only serve to educate the next generation but they allow parents to function in their jobs without concern about what to do with their children during the day or how to manage their daily learning. The pandemic brought to the forefront of people’s minds how talented our teachers are in reaching and teaching students on a daily basis. The pandemic and the isolation created from the pandemic reminded us of how important face-to-face interactions are and the crucial role that the schools play in the development of appropriate social skills and interactions. Data collected by the U.S. Department of Education before and during the COVID-19 pandemic have shown that in-person learning, on the whole, leads to better academic outcomes, greater levels of student engagement, higher rates of attendance, and better social and emotional well-being, and ensures access to critical school services and extracurricular activities when compared to remote learning.

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

Property taxes are high. However, property taxes is the mechanism the state of Illinois uses to fund the public schools so we need the tax revenues to fund the district.

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

Raising taxes is something that I would assume no one welcomes, including myself. I cannot predict the future but if the current economic conditions persist and the consumer price index (CPI) remains high for an extended period of time there could be a need to seek additional taxes to ensure the district is able to keep up with the maintenance needs for the schools/facilities. That being said, I cannot make a blanket statement on this because I could change my mind based on facts that are presented at any given time.

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

District 47 has reduced the tax rate for its taxpayers each year for the past 7 years from 4.65 per $100 to 3.81 per $100 (https://www.d47.org/page/990 ). I would need to be presented with the budget proposal and supporting data to determine what programs or services should be cut.

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

Yes, I will accept the voters’ decision on Election Day.

What is your position on open, transparent government?

I believe in open and transparent government. I also understand and support that there are some topics that cannot be totally disclosed (ie. Safety/security protocols, student records,

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

I do support FOIA and a citizens’ ability to freely request and access government records.