Rico D'Amore: Candidate profile
Name: Rico D'Amore
Office sought: Warren Township HS Board of Education
Family: 2 Children
Occupation: Director, Academic Services Technology at Benedictine University
Education: Master's Degree and Type 75 School Administrative Certification
Civic involvement: President of Fundraising for the Woodland District #50 Educational Foundation; Completed Gurnee Citizen Police Academy 2018
Previous elected offices held: N/A
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? N/A
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
School funding is currently the most important issue facing any public school district in Illinois and Warren Township High School Dist. #121 is no exception. It is important that District #121 continue to be fiscally responsible and to look at all possible options available to secure their financial future. I hope I can lend my knowledge, experience and understanding of educational finances to help address this issue.
How satisfied are you that your school district is adequately preparing students for the next stage in their lives, whether it be from elementary into high school or high school into college or full-time employment? What changes, if any, do you think need to be made?
I personally believe that Warren Township High School has some of the best teachers in the business. The students work hard daily to achieve personal and family goals. That being said, I believe a school needs to constantly evolve and change to cater to the ever changing educational landscape. One
change that I would like to see is for more resources to be assigned to the average high school student. Lots of resources are directed to the very bright and struggling students, but I feel the average student is often forgotten.
What budgetary issues will your district have to confront during the next four years and what measures do you support to address them? If you believe cuts are necessary, be specific about programs and expenses that should be considered for reduction or elimination. On the income side, do you support any tax increases? Be specific.
It is very difficult to say specifically what budgetary issue may occur in the next four years. While attending board meetings this year it has been shared that the budget is balanced for this school year. Recently, the district has chosen to refinance debt to get approximately 23 million dollars, which didn't require tax payer approval, to address life safety repairs for both campuses and to purchase a solar farm. The life safety projects are estimated to be approximately 15 million and 7.5 million would be set aside for the solar farm project. I see and understand the value of renewable energy but I am not behind investing 7.5 million dollars to build, maintain, and own a district solar farm. It is my understanding there are a number of school districts that are entering into agreements with companies like Siemens and Telsa that will eliminate the district's initial investment and limit the district's financial exposure while allowing them to experience the fiscal benefit of the future collected solar energy.
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?
I am currently employed by Benedictine University and no member of my direct family is employed by Warren Township HS District #121.
As contract talks come up with various school employee groups -- teachers, support staff, etc. -- what posture should the school board take? Do you believe the district should ask for concessions from its employees, expect employee costs to stay about the same as they are now or provide increases in pay or benefits?
Regarding contract talks, I believe it is important for the Board of Education to understand that a school is only as strong as its student, faculty and staff. Students need quality teachers and staff to provide a top notch educational experience and prepare them for life after high school. It is important that the BOE focuses on finding, hiring, and retaining good faculty and staff. A quality district needs to stay regionally competitive in pay and benefits for faculty and staff in order to provide a top notch education for their students.
If your district had a superintendent or other administrator nearing retirement, would you support a substantial increase in his or her pay to help boost pension benefits? Why or why not?
I never supported a substantial increase for a superintendent or administrator nearing retirement, it just didn't seem right. The state has made changes to the Illinois Pension Code to limit substantial increases to boost pensions for retiring administrators which should address most of these
concerns moving forward.