September 28, 2023


Kris Rayman, Batavia Public Schools District 101 Board of Education election questionnaire

Batavia Public Schools District 101 Board of Education candidate Kris Rayman

Full Name: Kris Rayman

What office are you seeking? BPS101 School Board

What is your political party? None

What is your current age? 49

Occupation and Employer: Account Management Oracle

What offices, if any, have you previously held? None

City: Geneva (Mill Creek)

Campaign Website: I don’t have a website

Education: Bachelor Degree Business Administration - Finance

Community involvement: I currently coach the Batavia Feeder Basketball team (affiliated with the high school). I have previously coached TCSA soccer and BYB baseball teams.

Marital status/Immediate family: Married with 3 children that attend Batavia schools.

Why are you running for office?

We are failing our students academically. This community should not be okay with the fact that nearly 6 out 10 of our students are judged to be not proficient in English (ELA) or Math according to the state. Based on the focus of the district, the urgency to fix this is not paramount. Nothing else should take precedence over the educational fundamentals that are necessary for our children to succeed. Despite being significantly behind Geneva and St. Charles academically, taxpayers are paying nearly $900 per year per student more on average than those districts. We are paying more and getting less. Additionally, our district is not being transparent. I, and others, have pleaded with the district to be more forthcoming with information. We owe full transparency to parents and taxpayers. The district needs to get back to putting students and parents first.

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

I have been actively involved in the Batavia community with parents and students for 17 years. I have a strong understanding of the balance they want from their schools. In 20 years of management at work, I have been a part of many committees. Listening, truly listening, to various viewpoints and being able to guide various groups to consistent consensus or near-consensus decisions is a key reason why I’ve been asked to be on so many committees. I’ll leverage my finance background to help ensure that we have balance between how we tax our residents and how we best spend our limited money for the greatest benefit for the students.

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

I’ve attended school board meetings and met with district leadership to understand issues in more detail. I am relying on my conversations with the parents, students, and schoolteachers and my own interactions with school/district leadership to guide me. I’m a parent and a taxpayer of the district with many of the same concerns that most of the people I talk to in the community have.

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

Considering the fact that nearly 6 out of 10 of our students are not proficient in the two most critical pillars of education (English and Math), I’ll work to get our focus back on the core educational foundation needed for our students to be successful. The focus on learning, according to the current board president, has been lost. Not only are we significantly behind similar communities, the fact that only about 40% of our students are proficient in English and Math is a steep drop from when over 60% were proficient just 5 years ago. This data all comes from the official Illinois Report Card.

Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district?

By the schools – yes. By other students – no. There has been an abundance of attention given to this by the schools. Considering this is still an issue across the district (and country), however, it is clear that what’s being done isn’t working. We need to readjust our thinking on how to best address this.

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

All kids need to feel included and wanted. This is another area of tremendous attention given by the district. We need to be careful, however, about telling kids that they are either part of an oppressive group or that they’re victims. Documents went to teachers throughout the district dividing them into two groups in their DEI training. If we stop and think about that, who are we benefitting? The kid who thinks that he should feel guilty about being born white? The kid that thinks the deck is stacked against him/her, and a lack of success is not his/her fault? The reality is more nuanced than that, and our strategy needs to bring people together for the common goal instead of dividing them.

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

Yes. What we are doing right now is not working. We need to strike a better balance or risk pushing some kids further away. Some students (and/or their parents) do not see how DEI benefits them personally. Because of this, aggressive means of implementing DEI policies can create a more extreme divide.

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

Some teachers are certainly paid too little. There are many that have transformational impacts on our students. We need to ensure that we hold onto our best teachers.

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

Ideally, teachers would be paid extra for exceptional results. I could support a plan that teachers found as an acceptable way of identifying this.

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

The compensation is appropriate for the position.

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

I would support compensation that aligns with student testing performance. I will support all reasonable initiatives that will return the focus to our students’ education.

Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.

In many ways, yes. In other ways, however, it’s been under her watch that the focus on education has lapsed. There will always be groups that scream the loudest for what they want. It is ultimately the responsibility of the superintendent, though, to keep the focus on what the primary function of the schools is: provide an excellent education to the students of the community.

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

Not without expressed consent from the parents. The vast majority of parents have no idea of what is taught and when. Let’s be transparent. Many parents, for example, do not believe teaching elementary kids about masturbation or middle school kids about anal sex is appropriate (part of these standards). We can focus on bodily maturation, identifying unwelcome touching, etc...without getting into items that we know are controversial in society. This is an area where parents are better than the government at determining what is best for their family.

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

We handled it poorly. We let fear win at the expense of our children’s education. We should have reassessed the impact on children earlier and realized that they were not at high risk of significant complications and that our actions would have life-long educational and societal impacts on them.

What did you learn from the pandemic?

Fear drives bad decisions, and bad decisions disproportionately harm people with lower economic means. People that are financially well off were significantly less impacted than those that aren’t.

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

Our voters are taxed too much. On average, Batavians are taxed around $900 more per year per student than our neighboring districts (St Charles and Geneva) with worse results for our students. We pay more and get less than those districts.

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

We don’t have a revenue problem. We have a focus on education and a “just get the kids through the system” problem. If more money would improve our test scores substantially, I’d support that, but I don’t think more money from taxpayers is the solution.

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

The $140,000,000 bond was rejected by the voters in November. Despite that, the district is putting the same bond with the exact same wording on the ballot again on April 4th. The median homeowner would save about $700/year without that bond (the district was not transparent when just saying your taxes won’t go up if it passed). Very little of that $140M directly correlates with improved test scores. We should revisit that bond request and determine how much of the taxpayers’ money we can give back to them. No programs or services would need to be cut.

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

Of course, I will accept the voters’ decision on Election Day. I saw the pros and cons of the $140M bond request – and would have supported it’s implementation if it was approved. This specific question is why I am against putting the exact same bond up for a revote and is why we need to have non-partisans on the school board. We can’t criticize others for doing the exact same thing we are doing. We must accept the will of the voters – even when we don’t get what we want.

What is your position on open, transparent government?

I’m the biggest supporter there is for transparency. We don’t tell the parents and taxpayers enough. Hiding how the median homeowner would save $700/year if they rejected the bond is a perfect example. How many parents know that our test scores have plummeted (even before Covid)? Parents and taxpayers deserve to see regular progress reports on how we are doing. We have parents’ emails. Let’s send them honest information that matters. I’m sure local news organizations would publish honest assessments for taxpayers to see. Many board members view themselves as politicians. I trust parents and taxpayers more than politicians. Let them know the facts and draw their own conclusions on how we’re doing.

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

I absolutely support FOIA requests as a means to maintain transparency and hold the district accountable. Nearly 90% of our schools are funded locally by the taxpayers of this district, and nothing is more important to any of us parents than our children. This idea that parents and taxpayers shouldn’t know every meaningful detail is baffling to me. These are our schools and our kids.

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