Endorsements: Dremel, Gonzalez-Thomas and Sligar for Batavia Dist. 101 board

The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted3/14/2023 1:00 AM
This endorsement is a consensus opinion of the Daily Herald Editorial Board.

With just one incumbent on the ballot for Batavia Unit District 101 school board, the April 4 election will usher in fresh representation.

The candidate field comprises passionate community members who want the best for the district, but we believe the best representation will come from incumbent Cathy Dremel and newcomers Raquel Gonzalez-Thomas and Danielle Sligar.


Also running for the three open four-year seats are Jeffery Robert Arulandu, Jeffrey Ekstrom, Gabrielle Fender and Kris Rayman.

DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) is a key issue for the district, with the board facing concerns about racism, bullying and students feeling safe in the school environment. The district created an equity committee and implemented equity training for staff. But some argue that's not been enough.

Board President Dremel, seeking her fourth term, said while some are wanting to solve equity issues swiftly, the basic changes needed take time and will always be a work in progress as everyone gains a full understanding of equity.

Gonzalez-Thomas and Sligar are both Hispanic and will bring diverse representation to the board, both pointing out DEI issues among the reasons they are running.

"There needs to be more support for the marginalized students," Gonzalez-Thomas, a quality manager and mother of two Batavia High School graduates, wrote in her questionnaire for the Daily Herald.

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Sligar, mother of two students in the district, said in a Daily Herald candidate interview that as a lunchroom monitor, she hears discriminatory remarks and wants to ensure all district personnel, not just teachers, receive diversity training.

Both Sligar and Gonzalez-Thomas suggested hiring someone to focus on DEI, with Sligar saying that would increase academic performance, pointing out a neighboring school district with dedicated DEI personnel shows higher scores and smaller learning gaps between racial groups.

Dremel's experience makes her well-suited to continue on the board as it faces important issues of equity, academic success and capital improvements highlighted in the district's second attempt at a $140 million referendum this election.

Gonzalez-Thomas and Sligar have shown a depth of knowledge about issues facing the district, and we believe they will do the work necessary to consider all sides of issues and vote with the district's best interests in mind.

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