Deanne Mazzochi: Candidate Profile

College Of DuPage School Board

 
Updated 3/10/2015 5:20 PM
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  • Deanne Mazzochi, running for College Of DuPage School Board

    Deanne Mazzochi, running for College Of DuPage School Board

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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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BioQ&A

 

Bio

City: Elmhurst

Website: www.votemazzochi.com; Citzens for Mazzochi on Facebook

Office sought:

College Of DuPage School Board

Age: 42

Family: Tim Grant (husband); Bella (10); Benjamin (4); Barbara and James Mazzochi (parents)

Occupation: Patent attorney

Education: B.A. Boston University (majors: Political Science, Chemistry with a Biology Minor). J.D., with honors, The George Washington University Law School.

Civic involvement: Please see details at www.votemazzochi.com

Elected offices held: I have not previously run for elected office.

Questions & Answers

What can the board do to help improve the relationship between the administration and its employees, including full-time faculty members?

The Board must agree to a formal agenda item, whether at an ordinary meeting or during a special session, where the Board hears information directly from faculty and students relating to the administration. It is surprising that the Board has still not yet heard directly at a public meeting the foundational basis for the faculty's "no confidence" vote (separate and apart from the general 3-minute public comment period). Without gathering this critical information, and getting specific details in response from the administration, the Board cannot meaningfully exercise real oversight to work to improve the relationship.

Are you currently employed by or retired from a school district, if so, which one? Is any member of your direct family - spouse, child or child-in-law - employed by the school district where you are seeking a school board seat?

Q1: No. Q2: No. However, in the interests of full disclosure, my mother, Barbara Mazzochi, is retired from a different school district, Villa Park School District 45.

With enrollment up, what should COD be doing as far as available classroom/lab space, staffing and course work options to keep pace with the growth?

The question assumes increasing enrollment, which is a matter of some controversy; at least one outside group has alleged COD's overall enrollment has trended downwards since 2007. Resource allocation judgments require the Trustees to possess (1) accurate enrollment facts; and (2) specific knowledge of where increasing/decreasing student demands exist. For example, increasing demand for core math and English classes, where credits transfer to 4-year universities, may be able to use existing classrooms yet require investing in more quality full-time professors. By contrast, a sudden increase in demand for certification in a new medical-imaging technique may require prioritizing funds to laboratory/equipment investments, and using adjunct professionals who have more extensive real-world experience to train students. Community colleges also best serve the community when they can be nimble in responding to trends and student needs. The Board should ensure it has developed a mechanism to consider these emerging needs separate and apart from the inputs provided by the Administration alone.

The board recently agreed to keep the college's operating property tax levy flat for this year. Is the college reaching a point where a tax levy increase is needed? If yes, how do you justify it? If no, why do you believe that?

: A further property tax levy is not needed given the College's current cash reserve levels. The Board should focus on improved oversight of existing spending priorities by the administration and getting better value for the dollars it does spend instead of again demanding of taxpayers more of their hard-earned funds.

According to a recent Daily Herald report, COD board members approved more than $26 million in spending over a 16-month period without seeing what they were specifically paying for. That's because of a long-standing board policy that allows administrators to pay bills of less than $15,000 without providing itemized reports. Should that policy be changed? Why or why not?

The policy should be changed. There is no reason why the current Trustees, or the public as a whole, cannot oversee where every dime of public spending goes, and particularly spending by those entrusted with significant power within the organization. When in response to public pressure, the administration published just two months of the check register on COD's website, I identified on my Facebook page (Citizens for Mazzochi) specific checkbook entries that were incomplete or inconsistent with the description; just those few items totaled tens of thousands of dollars if they were in error. The Trustees' purpose is to be the eyes and ears of the taxpayers at COD. With full-time student tuition near $5000 a year, we need real spending oversight to ensure those dollars are enriching students, not insiders.

What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?

The Board must investigate allegations lodged against COD; discuss them openly; and resolve them. This can only be done by looking objectively at the facts; making the information accessible; and explaining to the public why a particular decision is being made. That is essential to restore the public's trust that the Board is willing to hold the correct people accountable. Separate and apart from the allegations involving spending, fraud, and the current college President, as an attorney I have been considerably troubled by the allegations the Board is repeatedly violating the Open Meetings Act; acting beyond their legal authority (as with the censure of Kathy Hamilton); ignoring potential problems with the legality of Dr. Breuder's employment contract; and encouraging the administration's naked hostility to public FOIA requests. We need to get back to the fundamental principle that public organizations are there to serve the public; the public (and their wallet) does not exist to serve them. Students, faculty and taxpayer alike need to know that the Board is looking out for them, not for a privileged few.

Please name one current leader who most inspires you.

Too many in different contexts to select just one.

What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?

Whatever you choose to do, you will get out of it what you put into it.

If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?

At the moment, I'd save it. Obstacles I've overcome to date have made me a better person precisely for having overcome them.

What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?

Anything involving science and analysis. Those skills help identify known facts; genuine unknowns; fact versus opinion; and topics to investigate and explore.

If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Besides being an honorable person of good character? The world is an amazing place; always be curious, and keep learning.