Full Name: Raquel Gonzalez-Thomas
What office are you seeking? BPS 101 School Board Member
What is your political party? I am running for a nonpartisan position
What is your current age? 48-but I don’t see why that is relevant
Occupation and Employer: Quality Manager; Glanbia
What offices, if any, have you previously held? none
Campaign Website: none
Education: Bachelor’s Degree
Community involvement: Held a position in a 501 3 b; volunteered at my kid’s school functions; volunteered at numerous 5k fundraisers. Including several for Batavia’s middle school track program. Sponsored events to raise money for substance abuse and other local charities.
Marital status/Immediate family: Married with 2 children.
Why are you running for office?
I am running because I feel the current board and central office is not supporting teachers and building staff. I feel central office is not communicating with the schools and its staff and the community. I also feel that there needs to be more support for the marginalized students. And the board needs to be more proactive and not reactive with the issues of racism.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
I meet all the qualifications for school board member: A United States citizen; a resident in the school district for at least one-year preceding election; I’m 18 years of age; a registered voter; and not a school trustee.
I think I would be an asset to the current board because of my experience in management and having worked as a substitute teacher in the school district. I am able to work with all community members.
Have you sought and/or received any training to run for your local school board? If so, from whom?
No, the district held a workshop for all candidates, but that really wasn’t a training. It was just an overview of the school boards functions. And I have attended school board meetings.
Would you propose any changes to the curriculum? If so, what?
The Illinois state board of education sets the standards, and the school district sets the curriculum based on these standards.
Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district?
What is your assessment of how Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is handled in your school district?
It isn’t handled. Our Batavia school district is very reactive and not proactive in instances of racism towards the marginalized community.
Do you believe the district needs to make any changes to improve DEI in your district?
Are teachers in your district paid adequately now and in retirement?
Teacher salaries in Batavia are lower than surrounding area districts. This is a concern, because we need to attract and retain highly qualified educators. School districts are a foundation in a community and the teachers should be paid for their education and experience. If a teacher retires with full credited service, I feel they are adequately compensated in retirement. Teachers Retirement System requires teachers to pay 9% each check. Also, most teachers are not able to receive any social security benefits. If they do receive social security, it is reduced significantly.
Would you support changes to teacher pay scales? If so, how?
Yes, I would have Batavia change to be competitive with the surrounding districts.
What is your assessment of the district superintendent’s compensation?
Batavia will have a new superintendent come July, so I am not sure what his compensation will be.
Would you make any changes to how the district superintendent is compensated?
Possibly, again, I would have to look at the new superintendent’s compensation package.
Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.
She will be retiring come July, so it’s a non-issue.
Should schools in your district adopt and teach sex education according to the National Sex Education Standards? Please explain.
My understanding is that school districts can opt out of this standard. However, if the school does adopt and teach this standard, a parent can opt their child out of this standard. So, I would recommend that Batavia adopt this standard, and if a parent would like to opt their child out, then that is their right.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
I did not have any issues with how Batavia handled it. I think that COVID-19 should not be made political, and I would listen to the science behind any decisions made.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
Can’t please everyone, and that tough decisions have to be made whether they are popular or not.
Are voters that support your district taxed at an appropriate level?
Would you support any plans to raise taxes in the district? If so, what should the additional revenue be spent on?
I would have to see why we would raise taxes. What is the need, where is the need, and are there any other areas that we can look at before raising taxes.
Would you support lowering taxes in the district? If so, what programs or services in the district would you cut?
As of now no. But again, I would need to know why we are lowering taxes. Is there no need for certain programs, etc.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
What is your position on open, transparent government?
I know that the board should be open and transparent whenever possible. I also know that there may be instances where they can’t be transparent (matters of confidentiality, executive decisions, etc.).
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?