James DeVito: Candidate Profile

Big Hollow District 38 School Board

  • James DeVito, running for Big Hollow District 38 School Board

    James DeVito, running for Big Hollow District 38 School Board

Updated 3/20/2017 3:31 PM

Back to Big Hollow District 38 School Board



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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City: Round Lake

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Twitter: Candidate did not respond.

Facebook: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought:

Big Hollow District 38 School Board

Age: 50

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Family: Candidate did not respond.

Occupation: Firefighter/Paramedic

Education: BS from Southern Illinois University in Management

Civic involvement: Big Hollow school board member for the past 12 years

Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.

Questions & Answers

Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?

I am running again because of the current financial situation the district and the State are in. It takes time to understand how the district works and receives its funding. I feel my 12 years on the board give me experience and knowledge that is necessary to continue to work through this time. The ever-changing funds from the State causes issues for funding programs, borrowing costs etc. Even though my years on the board have been a challenge, I have enjoyed the community involvement and would like to continue to help guide the school through these difficult economic times. We are blessed to have a great staff and working with them is a privilege.

What do you think about the process for measuring student success in your district? Is it adequate? What changes, if any, do you propose?

Assessment is at the heart of education: Teachers and parents use test scores to gauge a student's academic strengths and weaknesses, communities rely on these scores to judge the quality of their educational system. Today's school-reform initiatives often center on using measures of student learning to gauge school and teacher effectiveness. This focus on accountability has in some ways taken away from the more basic purpose of assessment: to figure out what students know and need to learn. Learning is an infinitely complex process, yet as a society we seem determined to relegate learning to a single letter grade or percentage score aimed at sorting and ranking students. There can be some useful information captured by a well-written high stakes exam. It provides a snapshot of isolated and specific aspects of testing forms the bedrock of educational assessment and represents a commitment to high academic standards and school accountability. The demands of the today's world require students learn many skills. A knowledge-based, highly technological economy requires that student's to master higher-order thinking skills and that they are able to see the relationships among seemingly diverse concepts. They are the kinds of skills that aren't measured by our current high-stakes tests. Additionally, skills such as teamwork, collaboration, and moral character traits that aren't measured in typical standardized tests.Businesses are always looking for employees with people skills and the ability to get along well with coworkers. We know that the typical multiple-choice and short-answer tests aren't the only way.


How big a role do you think the board of education should play in setting the curriculum for students and what ideas do you have for changes to the current curriculum?

The local school board is a critical public link to public schools. School board members serve their communities in several important ways. First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board's agenda"”it is the only item. When making decisions about school programs, school boards should incorporate their community's view of what students should know and be able to do. The School board is accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools. We are the education watchdog for our communities, ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent. We should also create the vision for a community on what its education expectations should be. This means that we the board, establishes goals and policy statements not the curriculum . As a board we have to allocate resources being sure that they are adequately targeted to students with the greatest needs. Oversight by the board is necessary to determine if goals are being accomplished and policies are producing their intended effects. We as a school board serve as the key advocate for education within the community and with local, state, and federal policymakers of the general-purpose governments. We as a board must stand up for children in the local community and at the state level, on the other hand, we have to maintain that the entire community must feel a responsibility for its children.

What budget issues will your district have to confront and what measures do you support to address them? If you believe cuts are necessary, what programs and expenses should be reduced or eliminated? On the income side, do you support any tax or fee increases?

District 38 has a strong financial foundation. Our budget is balanced and we have the funds to ensure a quality education for our students. However, due to the state's budget problems, the future budget climate for schools is uncertain. As in recent years, state funding for schools is also likely to be reduced again this year. As a district, it should always be our goal to do things smarter and in the most cost effective way in order to achieve savings for our taxpayers. In addition, we must carefully prioritize our expenditures to ensure that our budget is able to support the initiatives most important to our students' continued growth and development. When we consider new programs, program and facility expansion, technology acquisition, and other expenditures we must evaluate them in light of the short and long term goals and priorities that are most important to achieving our core mission. We must be very careful to ensure that actions in Springfield will not endanger our schools' financial future, and still maintaining the operational resources necessary to accomplish our present and future educational goals. If actions by our State Legislature bring unanticipated financial burdens, we will need to make difficult decisions and potentially defer spending on initiatives that are not as essential to our most important educational goals. This will ensure that we can maintain the funding necessary to ensure the continued excellence of our school district

What role can and should school choice play in your district? If Congress or the state approves a voucher system or other means giving students broader choices among public and private schools, how will that affect your district? What is the appropriate response for the board of education of a public school system?

School vouchers allow parents and students to choose the right school for them, be it private or public. This freedom of choice is seen by many as a fundamental right, and many frown upon the government taxing citizens without allowing them to use the funding toward private schools. Vouchers allow parents to choose the best school for their children, and could be seen as rewarding higher-performing schools. This could also force under-performing schools to improve their education or lose out on state dollars. No matter how successful voucher programs are, they are ultimately a short term solution. Private schools will never have enough seats to educate every child. At the same time, taking money out of public school systems harmful in the long run for the public school system pretending that school vouchers are a viable solution detracts from our ability to have meaningful conversations about the need to spend more money on public education. At a time when teacher shortages are rampant, class sizes are ballooning, we can no longer call for "˜school choice' in the form of school vouchers. That just puts off the real conversation about adequately funding our public schools so that they can actually provide quality cost free education for all. Any policy that doesn't address that core problem isn't worthy of consideration.The research on vouchers has allowed many politicians and educators to come to very different conclusions on the effectiveness and impact of these programs.

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

ESSA implementation, the state budget How to do more with less

Please name one current leader who most inspires you.

My dad

What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?

To be your self and to treat people with respect

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

I would not, because my past is what made me the person i am

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

Foods everyone wants to be at my station so i can cook it also got me on WGN firehouse chef

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

be true to yourself and never give up