Full Name: Kathleen Schaefer
What office are you seeking? School Board Member Dixon Public Schools
What is your political party? Non-partisan race
What is your current age? 59
Occupation and Employer: Youth Programming Coordinator, Dixon Public Library
What offices, if any, have you previously held? None
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
Master’s Degree in Child Development and Family Living
Community involvement: I do volunteer work through my church.
Marital status/Immediate family: I’m married and have three grown daughters.
Why are you running for office?
In May of 2022, I was appointed to finish a term by a board member who moved out of state. Since I took on that position, I have learned so much about working on the school board. I care about my community and our public schools. My three daughters all graduated from DPS and are currently working in successful careers. I believe they are successful, in part, because of their experiences in Dixon Public Schools. I think the experiences I have had working with children of all ages make me uniquely qualified to work on the board of education. I want to continue to serve the children and families in my community.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
I’ve worked with children in one capacity or another for most of my adult life. In addition to my current position at the library, I’ve taught kindergarten, been an assistant director and director of a group childcare center, owned my own in-home family childcare center, worked as a substitute teacher, and I’ve taught early childhood courses to students at Sauk Valley Community College as an adjunct instructor. I’m taking the time to list these roles, because I feel they help to make me uniquely qualified serve as a member of the Dixon School Board. I’ve worked with children literally from birth through young adults. I have a broad knowledge of the needs and interests of children of a variety of ages.
Have you sought and/or received any training to run for your local school board? If so, from whom?
No additional training, other than the training I have received since being appointed to the school board.
Would you propose any changes to the curriculum? If so, what?
I believe it is important to listen to the people who are charged with evaluating curriculum for our school district. Our school board values local control of decisions regarding curriculum. At this time, I have no proposed changes.
Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district?
As a member of the school board, our oath of office asks us to promise to treat all students fairly, and that is what I will work towards.
What is your assessment of how Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is handled in your school district?
As a school board member, I am tasked with treating all students equitably. We are to make sure all students feel valued and included, and are given an environment in which they can thrive. Board decisions are made with the best interests of all students in mind.
Do you believe the district needs to make any changes to improve DEI in your district?
I believe we need to constantly review if we are doing everything we can to make all students feel valued and secure in our schools.
Are teachers in your district paid adequately now and in retirement?
I believe our teachers deserve to be paid as the professionals they are. They go above and beyond to provide the best education for our students. One of the most difficult aspects of being a school board member is to be fiscally responsible while trying to stay competitive salary-wise as a district so we can continue to attract the best teachers.
Would you support changes to teacher pay scales? If so, how?
We continue to work cooperatively with our teachers to come to agreements that work for both them and our school district.
What is your assessment of the district superintendent’s compensation?
In a recent review of our district’s compensation of our superintendent as compared to surrounding districts, I believe we are in line with where we should be to stay competitive.
Would you make any changes to how the district superintendent is compensated?
Not at this time.
Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.
In my time as a school board member, I believe our superintendent is doing an excellent job overseeing our district. She has my support.
Should schools in your district adopt and teach sex education according to the National Sex Education Standards? Please explain.
Our district has not adopted the National Sex Education Standards. We have an age-appropriate curriculum already in place.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
Our district followed local recommendations on how to handle Covid-19 within our school community. Decisions were made on the best information available at the time.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
I learned we don’t always have all the answers. I lost my mother to Covid-19 in July of 2020. I wish we knew then what we know now, and had the resources to treat and prevent the disease. Our community has lived through a pandemic, something most all of us have never experienced before We should be humble in judging decisions made by others who only had our best interests at heart at the time.
Are voters that support your district taxed at an appropriate level?
I believe our district’s tax rate is comparable to other surrounding districts.
Would you support any plans to raise taxes in the district? If so, what should the additional revenue be spent on?
Based on recent discussions at school board meetings, there appears to be no need to raise taxes in our school district.
Would you support lowering taxes in the district? If so, what programs or services in the district would you cut?
At this time, I would support keeping our tax levy at the current amount.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
Absolutely, that is the basis of our democracy.
What is your position on open, transparent government?
Government at all levels should be open and transparent. Interested parties are able to seek information as needed and voice concerns during school board meetings.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
Yes, citizens do and should have the ability to freely access government records.