Patrick DeGeorge, McHenry Elementary District 15 Board of Education election questionnaire

McHenry Elementary District 15 Board of Education candidate Patrick DeGeorge

Full Name: Patrick DeGeorge

What office are you seeking? Board of Education, McHenry Elementary District 15

What is your political party? This position is an apolitical position

What is your current age? 42

Occupation and Employer: I am the public relations specialist for Township High School District 211

What offices, if any, have you previously held? I am a current District 15 Board of Education member, having been appointed in July 2021 following the resignation of a previous member.

City: McHenry, Illinois

Campaign Website: I do not have a website.

Education: I have a Bachelor’s of General Studies from Northern Illinois University, and I am a graduate of the Defense Information School at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.

Community involvement: I am a member of the following organizations:

  • Veterans of Foreign Wars (Fox River Post 4600)
  • 1st Cavalry Division Association
  • Battery G 2nd Illinois Light Artillery Civil War Reenactors (Commander)
  • Kappa Kappa Psi (National Band Service Fraternity) -Alumni Member

Marital status/Immediate family: I am married to Katie, a 2nd grade teacher at Riverwood Elementary, and have 2 children, one enrolled in District 15 and the other at McHenry Community High School.

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

I feel that I am qualified to continue serving as a Board of Education member for multiple reasons.

  • As someone who works in school communication, I understand the importance of open and direct communications with our stake holders.
  • As a resident of McHenry and parent of a District 15 student, I have a vested interest in ensuring our students are provided a solid and high quality education.
  • As a resident of McHenry, I have a vested interest in seeing that, through a school system which stands second-to-none, we continue to build a strong community.

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

I have attended, both in-person, and through web-conferencing, multiple trainings through the Illinois Association of School Boards.

During my brief time with the Board of Education, I have had the opportunity to attend multiple panel discussions and lectures discussing a variety of topics including, school safety, school communications, student well-being, and more.

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

Over the past meetings, the board has heard proposals to updates in both the mathematics and literacy programs within the District. I know that Dr. Duginske, and her staff will be proposing more updates which will keep our curriculum pushing our students to the best of their abilities.

Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district?

I believe they are.

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

As an elementary district, I feel diversity, equity, and inclusion are traits that are presented to all of our students. The curriculum presented to our students is adaptive to their ability and inclusive of their background.

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

Having an ESL program that is used as the example throughout the area, I feel that we are in an excellent place with regards to DEI. That being said, we should always strive to ensure no student or staff member feels neglected or overlooked on account of who they are.

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

One accomplishment that I am proud of from my short time with District 15 is the negotiation and approval of our newest collective bargaining agreements with our teachers, as well as other unions. I feel we created a compensation schedule for teachers both new and established which is fair and will be one we can build on in future negotiations.

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

In District 15, we recently agreed to a stepped pay scale which allows different annual increases based on time in service. One purpose of this was to keep all of our teachers’ salaries in line with our area, while making it appealing to new educators just starting their careers.

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

The District superintendent’s contract was one of the contracts that has been negotiated during my time on the board. While I have absolute confidence in Dr. Reitz, I also understand our fiduciary responsibility to the residents within our District. I feel that the contract we negotiated provides him with a fair and competitive compensation without burdening the tax payers.

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

At this time I would not.

Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.

I whole heartedly support Dr. Reitz. He is an educator and leader with an established history within District 15. He took over the leadership of this District during a very trying time and navigated through it. Under his leadership, District 15 has produced top level educational opportunities to our students and has developed award-winning programs. In my opinion, Dr. Josh Reitz is the embodiment of an exceptional superintendent.

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

Having looked over the curriculum within the MSES, I do not believe it is an appropriate fit for District 15. While some aspects such as personal protection are absolutely a must so students can recognize inappropriate behavior, some of the lessons they listed as required subject matter seemed in appropriate for children in an elementary district.

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

I think District 15 handled the COVID-19 pandemic as effective as they could within the constraints of state mandates. The District has a constant, and efficient communication with parents, students, and staff. District 15 was one of the first in the state to allow parents to choose whether their student should wear a mask or not, prior to the state taking that authority away. Once decision making was returned to the District, we returned to allowing parents to choose if their students should mask or not.

What did you learn from the pandemic?

One thing I learned from the pandemic was that decision making on policy should be retained at the local level. What works for one area, may not be effective in another. Additionally what may be necessary in larger populations, may not be necessary in smaller communities. Control on school policy should have always been left at the individual district or county levels.

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

I feel that our residents are taxed at an appropriate level, with regards to tax levies from the school district. Through proper management, District 15 operates debt free. Because of this, the only taxes requested from the District is for annual increases in cost. It is my plan to ensure we continue to operate debt free, thus not requiring an debt levy, which would then overburden the tax payer.

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

This is not an issue faced by District 15. We operate efficiently enough that we were able to approve the purchase of a new central office without requesting additional taxes. Through proper financial planning, I would not see a need to add additional tax burdens to the tax payer, and so would not, at this time, approve any outside of the annual levy.

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

To be a school district which attracts growth to the community, I believe District 15 needs to continue operating at the level it currently is. Therefore, I cannot think of any program within our District that should be cut.

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

As was the case when I ran in 2021, I will accept whatever decision the voters within District 15 decide. The electoral process is one of the greatest tools and responsibilities we as Americans possess.

What is your position on open, transparent government?

My opinion on open and transparent government is that it is a must for community support. Decisions which impact the people residing within our District should be clearly and effectively communicated. Our meeting should remain live-streamed so that we can remain as transparent as possible.

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

I support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to access government records. The only place where that would be of any sort of conflict would be in impinging on personal privacy or in any place where it could impact the safety and security of our students.

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