John Baar: 2023 candidate for Butler Elementary District 53 board


Town: Oak Brook

Age on Election Day: 70

Occupation: Retired educator

Employer: Former employee of Butler School District 53

Previous offices held: Appointed to Butler Elementary District 53 board in February 2022; Oak Brook Village Trustee (2013-21); and chairman, Oak Brook Fire and Police Commissioner (2003-2009 and 2011-13).


Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?

A: Butler School District 53 has a long and celebrated history of excellence in education - with small class sizes, superior teachers, challenging and engaging curricula, a full program of extracurricular activities, and the highest level of support services for each and every student.

We care about the whole person and are committed to helping them become the best person they can be intellectually and in character. For 30 years, I was part of creating such a district and I want to work to make sure it is not only maintained, but improved.

Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?

A: A board of education has the final approval of all curriculum within the school as developed by the administration and the teachers. Developing a great curriculum takes years of work and takes continued monitoring by the board and administration in order make sure the curriculum is followed and high standards of instruction are maintained.

Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?

A: Curriculum in Butler District 53 is designed to prepare the students for high school. It is a demanding curriculum, taught by talented and dedicated teachers with strong support from the board and the community. It is being constantly improved upon and enriched where needed. As a result there is no particular area of concern.

Q: How do you view your role in confronting policy or curriculum controversies: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents - even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?

A: All curriculum has to be developmentally appropriate for the age and maturity of the student. Beyond that the curriculum should follow the educational goals as set by the board of education.

I believe most controversies or misunderstandings about the curriculum can be avoided through a close working relationship with the parents, teachers, and administrators.

Q: Concerns are growing regarding a new resurgence of the pandemic. If another massive outbreak of infectious disease occurs, what have we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that will guide your decision making?

A: Most importantly, we have learned that the schools can be open and the students and staff safely attend given the proper precautions. In-person classroom instruction and extracurricular activities are vital to the social and emotional well being of the students; too much is lost when schools are not open.

Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage school district policy? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your school board.

A: I have had many experiences working on a board and the first thing I have always done is to educate myself on the topic under consideration. It is important to gather as much information as one can from any source that may help in making an informed and intelligent decision. During board deliberations, be respectful of the input from fellow board members and really listen to their input. Try to come to a consensus and don't rush a decision. Be a team player.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: I have over 35 years of experience in education from preschool through college and understand how to build excellence within a school. I have over 25-plus years of experience sitting on village, civic, and church boards. Finally, I have time, knowledge, dedication and will strive to make a positive impact on my school district. I take being on the school board as a sacred honor and responsibility.

Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?

A: Technology has transformed education and instruction in many ways, most for the better. But I think it's important to understand that technology is a tool to deliver instruction and not a replacement for face-to-face and hands-on experiences inside and outside of the classroom.

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