Dolores Van Hiel, St. Charles District 303 School Board election questionnaire

Election 2024

Full Name: Dolores Van Hiel

What office are you seeking? 4Yr Term Candidate for D303 School Board Member

What is your political party? Non partisan

What is your current age? 60

Occupation and Employer: Regional Account Manager United Healthcare

What offices, if any, have you previously held? I have worked on a few boards for a variety of companies including presently my own Home Owners Association but this would be my first office held for public office.

City: Originally from Chicago but have lived in St Charles for 34 years

Campaign Website: vanhielrunsford303.com

Education: I have a degree in Business and Management from DePaul University and have worked in the business community over 20 years. I have a Master of Arts in Teaching and taught in 5 surrounding districts as well as in District 303 at both Haines and Thompson Middle Schools teaching Social Studies and Science

Community involvement: I continue to support and served on the board of Young Life -a youth organization which instills youth serving their communities in the Fox Valley area. As well I did serve as both a Cub Scout and Girl Scout leaders when my children were involved. I also currently financially support the International Justice Mission working to fight both domestic and International Human Trafficking as well as Compassion International to give each child a fighting chance for survival in countries all over the world.

Marital status/Immediate family: I am married and have 3 adult children and a grandchild with one on the way!

Why are you running for office?

I am running because I have true concerns that I believe need to be addressed and plans in place to be sure we effectively solve these issues. One of these issues is to have a vetted, results proven curriculum that will address the lack of proficiency our students are currently facing. We need to get back to basics in achieving results in Math, Reading and Writing, this is so crucial to our students success. In addition, we need to have reading and supporting material to the curriculum as well as recreational reading material be age appropriate for our students. Second, I also believe we are not currently addressing a discipline issue in our schools. I’ve spoken to over 1200 homes and in these discussions this still continues to be an issue. I would like to see a policy put in place - one that we are not afraid to have put in place in which behavioral issues are addressed as needed. In addition, where there may issues outside of behavioral that we provide a way for families to seek mental health support. We need to address the whole child while putting the trust in all of our students that as a district we will have zero tolerance for any type of physical or cyber bullying that occurs whether in the schools or on the buses for our students- this is a must.

Finally in addressing the need for excellence for our students both academically and mentally that we are fiscally responsible to our parents and taxpayers. Our parents and taxpayers own these schools and we as a board are servants to this role. We must position ourselves as such giving the parent a voice and welcoming their thoughts and concerns. Parents must be involved in any part of their child’s education. Creating and keeping a partnership with the parent is what I would strive to do if elected.

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

I have raised 3 children - grandmother of soon two grandchildren. I’ve volunteered and served in this community for over 30 years professionally in business and through teaching in our local district as well as 5 surrounding districts of Geneva, Batavia, N. Aurora, Kaneland and Elgin. I’ve stepped out into our community through this campaign and have visited over 1200 homes having wonderful conversations with the residents of this town who have not only raised their children in district but with the newer families that look forward to the exciting years their children have ahead. If elected I want our parents to know that they can trust their voices will be heard about their child’s education and their children can trust to learn while in our schools and feel safe while doing this. In addition I want to assure each household that we are looking out for them fiscally to attain the level of excellence these families deserve.

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

Yes I have sought training through The Leadership Institute through their School Board Academy program. It was an excellent program and will continue to provide resources and access to school board members from all over the United States to collaborate and learn from and with.

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

Yes - this curriculum would be a reform from our present curriculum that is not giving us measurable goals and benchmarks to achieve success in our basic core subjects while enhancing their spelling, English and writing. As well I would like to make strides in honors program that would allow academically gifted students the opportunity to develop their true gifts while providing step up programs to students who seek to achieve this status. I would also continue to make sure our special needs students are provided the physical support and curriculum to do their very best while in our schools.

Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district?

I don’t know this. If I am elected every child will be treated fairly.

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

I believe an assessment of the effect of this program needs to be evaluated.

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

I don’t know how effective the program is but look to learn this if elected.

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

We need to make sure they are paid what is needed but I also believe that we need to empower them with a curriculum that is effective to their students. As well whatever physical teaching support that may be needed to address the special needs while in their classrooms. Finally, with an effective discipline policy in place we are now arming our teachers to feel assured that they have the tools they need to be successful. We want to be the district that has candidates for teaching running to interview with D303.

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

I would support changes to any teachers pay scales but would take board collaboration to see where our current budget is and what options we can discover that will also work fiscally for our taxpayers. I know this may be a challenge but confident we would have the proper individuals in place on the board to assist with this. It would also take collaborating with the current union to arrive a a very reasonable solution.

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

I have no comment yet- something I would need to further investigate.

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

I would need to evaluate this- no comment now.

Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.

I would need more time to evaluate this. I am pleased with some of the strides that have been made with regards to our curriculum but feel there is more to evaluate.

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

I believe it is a topic that is discussed with parent involvement and evaluate this when on the board. I do believe the parent should have the final say as to what they would want their child to opt out of that they feel is not appropriate for their child. As it applies to physical education it would be helpful to have very basic education to students as it applies to their physical health - what would even be presented in a biology lesson and how to optimize their health and performance through this. I would love to see a health segment - having been a 26 time marathoner I think this would be a great segment worked into that part of the physical education curriculum if not already included.

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

I do believe that with all the data we have today and information we now know to keep children in school and healthy will allow us to make some great decisions going forward should the need arise.

What did you learn from the pandemic?

How important it is for our kids to be in school. The mental ramifications of isolation has given us some glaring data as to how far greater the effect on mental health is by isolating the students. I also believe the pandemic was a very trying time for our teachers- with the medical advances we have since made from the start of the pandemic I am confident we will be able to not only assist in keeping our students, teachers and staff safe but in school.

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

My thoughts and concern are that we look at our budget and find ways to make sure we are being fiscally responsible to our taxpayer. I am confident with enough collaboration with the board and union that we can be sure to protect every dollar that our taxpayer already spends.

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

No I would not be in favor of raising taxes anymore than we have. We need to start rolling up our sleeves and getting creative with the funding we currently possess.

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

I don’t believe we may need to cut any programs but with enough collaboration and evaluation of current programs that are in place we can make good use of funds where available.

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

Absolutely I’ve spoken to many of them and would support whatever decision they make.

What is your position on open, transparent government?

We need to be open and transparent whenever it involves the families and funding of our communities. We are a community and the community should trust that if in office as stewards of their money that we be as transparent as possible. Who would not want this and if not why?

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

Yes - their taxes go to support what records may be needed. Any parent should have that right.