Jason Janczak, Cary School District 26 BOE election questionnaire

Cary School District 26 Board of Education candidate Jason Janczak

Full Name: Jason Janczak

What office are you seeking? Cary School District 26 Board Member

What is your political party? Non-partisan

What is your current age? 45

Occupation and Employer: Social Studies Department Chair - Grayslake Central High School - Grayslake High School District #127

What offices, if any, have you previously held? School Board Member - Cary School District 26 - 2019-2023

City: Cary

Campaign Website: https://www.facebook.com/JasonJanczakfor26

Education: BA - Interdisciplinary Social Science - Michigan State University

M.Ed. - Educational Technology - Boise State University

Ed. S - Educational Leadership - National Louis University

Community involvement: Member - First Church Crystal Lake

Member - Norge Ski Club

Group Leader - Vacation Bible School - First Church Crystal Lake

Marital status/Immediate family: Married

2 children ages 10 and 8

Why are you running for office?

I am a dad, a taxpayer in the district, and an educator by trade. I want what is best for my children, their friends, and all the other students in our district, while making sure the district remains in solid financial shape and are good stewards of taxpayer monies. We have exciting things happening in Cary 26 - a new superintendent and a new strategic plan to be developed setting the course for the next chapter in Cary 26. That being said, there are also challenges on the horizon, a looming teacher shortage, the possibility of a large TIF district being set up in Cary, and politically motivated groups setting out to undermine the great things our teachers and students are doing in Cary District 26 and around the state.

I am the best candidate because through the excitement and challenges that we will be facing in the coming years, I have proven in my past 4 years that I always keep our students best interests and growth at the forefront of everything I do on the Board. While we definitely have areas for growth in our district, I am incredibly proud of the public education provided to students in Cary District 26 and I look forward to having the opportunity to serve the community for another 4 years and continue to move District 26 forward.

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

I am a father with children in this district, a taxpayer in this district, and have a background in education. My experience and track record on the Board coupled with my desire to continue provide a high quality education while still being a good steward of taxpayer money makes me qualified for re-election. And while I may have the support of various organizations, unlike my opponents, I am not running at their request or to promote some political agenda of a special interest group. My goal on the Board is to support our teachers and education professionals to deliver the best instruction and experience to help grow our students into the leaders of tomorrow.

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

Given my experience on the Board and my background in education, I do not require it.

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

I would like to see an increased focus on STEM across all grades. We have made strides in that area but I would like to see continued growth.

Additionally, I would like to see more emphasis on the importance of citizenship, the political process, and the importance of being an informed citizen.

Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district?

This is an evolving area for Cary District 26, and while I believe our LGBTQ students currently are being treated fairly, I welcome and encourage parents and community members to reach out and discuss how we as a district can better support our LGBTQ students.

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

I am proud of the work the district has done from an inclusion standpoint in regards to our students with exceptional needs, however when it comes to race and ethnicity we still have work to do. In reviewing our test scores we have made great strides in closing achievement gaps among ethnicities but we can continue to grow in this area. I am proud of the work the district has done thus far in identifying needs of groups of students that need support and I look forward to seeing their work pay off for our students in the future.

I am proud of the focus our district has placed on exposing our students to different cultures throughout the curriculum and teaching students to accept peers from all walks of life.

I would like to see the District continue to develop and implement professional development around the new Illinois State Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards moving forward. Additionally I would like to see a greater effort for the district to reach out to all families to make sure they are included in their child’s educational process.

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

See previous answer.

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

There is a looming teacher shortage in our state and in our country and part of the problem is compensation. Walking into our schools you will find that our teachers and education professionals are some of the hardest working people around. They give their all to make sure our students feel loved, supported, and have the opportunity to grow. I am thankful of the positive relationships the D26 Board has with the unions in Cary 26 in making sure our teachers and education professionals are compensated fairly for the hard work they do for our students. I would like to continue this trend of fairly compensating our teachers for their work while still being respectful to the taxpayers of the District.

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

Having just entered into contracts with our educational professionals, it would be not be prudent to discuss changes at this time. As stated before, the Board is proud of the collaborative relationship it has developed with the unions in Cary 26 and we look forward to continuing to develop the strong dynamic relationships while being respectful to our taxpayers.

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

The Board reviews the Superintendent’s compensation with every contract and reviews their work based upon their goals every year. I feel that given the number of employees and students he is responsible for and the scope of his other responsibilities our superintendent is compensated fairly and competitively.

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

The Board has the ability to do that, and should the need arise, we would act.

Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.

Dr. Coleman has done an excellent job in bringing the district back from the brink of financial ruin a little over a decade ago. He has navigated the district regaining its firm financial footing from which it now stands and navigated us through the recent COVID crisis with a calm and steady demeanor and always kept students best interests at the forefront of his decisions. He has been receptive to Board feedback in his areas for growth like growing the district’s social media presence and the need for cameras in the junior high. We wish him well in his retirment beginning this summer and are excited to welcome new leadership to the district later this year.

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

We addressed this earlier this school year and feel that our district’s current curriculum is adequate and appropriate in addressing the standards required by the State of Illinois.

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

I am proud of the work the District did in making sure our students, staff, and their families stayed safe throughout the pandemic. From a pedagogical perspective the pandemic left us with many questions where there were no instruction book or guide to lead us. The same could be said for how to return to school and do so in a manner that was safe for all stakeholders. We could only use the science and data in front of us which changed rapidly throughout early on. Once science and data gave us a clearer picture we were able to create those opportunities for students and teachers to return to school safely.

What did you learn from the pandemic?

First and foremost, now that we have a better understadning of the virus, how it is transmitted, and vaccine available to those who want it, we need to make sure we do everything we can to keep our students in school and do so in a manner that is safe to them and all the educators in their buildings. Remote learning needs to be the absolute last option should a resurgence happen again. I am incredibly proud of the work that the Board, the administration, the teachers and students did to keep our schools open and safe last year. In the 2021-2022 school year, not a single classroom, grade level, or building was forced to go to remote learning due to an outbreak - even throughout all the surges - in Cary District 26. That is a testament to our teachers and administration finding ways to keep students safe and learning in their buildings and to our parents and students for supporting the safe environment the district created at our schools.

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

The Village of Cary needs to do a better job of recruiting businesses to our community to that the taxpayers do not have to carry the large majority of the tax burden for our schools, libraries and park districts. Now the Village would like to set up another TIF over a large part of Cary, which would only require our residents to shoulder more of the burden of supporting schools, libraries and our park district. Having earned awards for fiscal responsibility, I am proud of the way our district is a good steward of taxpayer money. My hope is that the Village would reconsider the TIF and do more to recruit businesses to make their home in Cary so that the taxpayers are not responsible for carrying a large amount of the tax burden.

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

The Board is allowed to raise the levy within the guidelines of the PTELL to compensate for changes in the inflation for goods and services which they use for the operation of the District. It should be noted here that while I have voted in favor of raising the levy, I have also voted in favor of abating over $200,000 back to taxpayers in the last 4 years.

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

I am proud to say that because of the fiscal responsibility of the district, in the next few years the taxpayers will see their taxes go down as we pay off the remaing debt incurred when we had to re-stabilize the district over a decade ago.

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


What is your position on open, transparent government?

100% in favor of it.

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

Yes - within the boundaries of FOIA.

Citizens should know what is going on in their government institutions.

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