Full Name: Brent Nakayama
What office are you seeking? D304 School Board
What is your political party? Republican (but this shouldn’t matter because I measure solutions/strategies based on their merit, not who is pushing them)
What is your current age? 42
Occupation and Employer: Program Manager, Leidos
What offices, if any, have you previously held? None
City: Geneva, IL
Campaign Website: https://www.votenakayama.com/
Education: BS Mechanical Engineering
Masters in Business Administration
Community involvement: Volunteer Youth Baseball Coach
Marital status/Immediate family: Married 13 years, three children together
Why are you running for office?
Our school-aged children are our future. They are our future leaders, teachers, innovators, caregivers, parents, etc., the possibilities are obviously endless or at least should be. Whatever our children grow up to be, their path to their future begins now. We as community members, and board members, have a responsibility to create a safe and relevant learning environment that best sets them up to succeed so that we as a society can succeed. I am running for office to hopefully become part of this very important process.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
I believe I am qualified for several reasons. I have three school-aged children and am experiencing firsthand the challenges that children face in today’s world. I think having this relevant perspective is critical when making decisions that directly influence the design of today’s learning environment. Professionally, my career has been focused on strategic planning and budgeting, helping companies maneuver through some very challenging initiatives. I feel that our school board would greatly benefit from my professional experiences.
Have you sought and/or received any training to run for your local school board? If so, from whom?
Informally I have sought out the perspective and experiences of those in my network that are current board members in their respective districts or have run for the board in the past.
Would you propose any changes to the curriculum? If so, what?
I’m interested in the possibility of promoting programs focused on business and financial acumen. I have volunteered in the past for an INCubator Program at a neighboring town’s HS and would love to do that at our HS. Generally speaking, I believe our current generation of children would be much better off if they understood financial responsibilities at a much earlier age.
Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district?
I cannot say for sure as I’m not privy to any details that may exist regarding the history here. What I can say is that if there is a real, or even perceived inequity in how people are treated, I will take that very seriously as all students and staff deserve to feel safe at school.
What is your assessment of how Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is handled in your school district?
I know a committee was formed a couple of years ago to research ways to diversify the curriculum. I’d like to understand what the committee determined and what actions came out of it, then make an assessment of what improvement opportunities might exist.
Do you believe the district needs to make any changes to improve DEI in your district?
I believe having a focused and intentional plan would be the best. If this exists, I have not had a chance to review it. The findings of the committee formed a couple of years ago would also be a good baseline to measure recent improvement.
Are teachers in your district paid adequately now and in retirement?
At a macro level, I believe the total compensation is competitive and fair, but please read my response to the next question.
Would you support changes to teacher pay scales? If so, how?
Yes, I would be open to discussing how teachers that continually go the extra mile with students can somehow be compensated for their efforts while staying within the current budget framework.
What is your assessment of the district superintendent’s compensation?
I’m trusting the current board established a competitive compensation package.
Would you make any changes to how the district superintendent is compensated?
Not at this time, but I’m open to evaluating.
Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.
Yes. Regardless of how I feel about the current superintendent, all parties involved with policy and curriculum setting must work together to ensure our children can continue learning in a safe environment. I commit to fostering a collaborative relationship should I be elected to the school board.
Should schools in your district adopt and teach sex education according to the National Sex Education Standards? Please explain.
No. In my opinion, there are certain elements of the NSES that make sense to me. However, what the NSES recommends beginning in the grade range of 3-5 goes out of bounds of what I believe our kids should be mandatorily taught in public schools.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
I understand that a lot of local policy was influenced by state and national mandates, so there was only so much that could be dictated locally. Locally speaking, one area I think that lacked consistency was the level of home-learning engagement that our children received from their teacher, comparatively. That’s a very specific example and I don’t say that to generalize, but we did detect that imbalance within our household and it was frustrating at times.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
I was reminded of the value of in-person learning. Our children whose schooling was impacted by the pandemic experienced a measurable setback in their progression trajectory, not to mention their social development. If for any reason a school board needs to analyze future scenarios that involve holding kids out of the physical classroom, it must prioritize child development at the top.
Are voters that support your district taxed at an appropriate level?
I believe the taxation rates for Geneva’s various revenues are comparable to surrounding cities, so no big issues there. Regarding Geneva property taxes, their weighted contribution to overall annual revenues is much higher than neighboring towns like Batavia and St. Charles, but I understand why. We are choosing to live here for the smaller community feel and are amenable to slightly higher taxes especially when considering the benefits of living in a great city like Geneva.
Would you support any plans to raise taxes in the district? If so, what should the additional revenue be spent on?
This question implies backward logic to me. I would hope we wouldn’t raise taxes without a plan on how to use them. That said, I realize progress isn’t free. A theoretical “improvement” that requires an increase in taxes should be heavily scrutinized for its merit and how it supports the greater good of the community. Generally speaking, I’m ok with paying more for a commensurate increase in value, especially when it’s regarding the education of our children.
Would you support lowering taxes in the district? If so, what programs or services in the district would you cut?
I personally enjoy our quality of life in Geneva and do not have an opinion on any services that should be cut.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
What is your position on open, transparent government?
I think a transparent government should be a requirement. I also think it’s the responsibility of the people the government serves to be educated about what’s going on. People need to be informed so they can support elected officials that truly align with what they believe in.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?