Deborah Sajdak: 2021 candidate for College of DuPage board
Village: Glen Ellyn
Age: Not given
Occupation: Not given
Employer: Not given
Q. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. After a lengthy professional career, I am in a position now where I can become more involved in the community. Since education has such a vital role in our society I would like to make some contribution to the success of our young people as they learn and grow. In my positions with Nordstrom I have acquired a broad variety of skills that include: procurement, conflict resolution, negotiation, organization and communication and I would enjoy being able to use these skills in a completely different environment. The only direct experience I have had in higher education has been as a student myself, but it seems to me that the COD board is a place where the skills that I developed over decades at Nordstrom, a large, well known retailer, could be exceptionally useful. At Nordstrom, in my positions as store manager as well as a buyer, I was able to cultivate a broad variety of competence in important management skills including procurement, conflict resolution, negotiation, organization, and communication. I would really enjoy putting those abilities to good use in a completely different, noncommercial environment. I believe that I would bring a fresh set of eyes to the table and would be able to give a different perspective to the issues that are currently faced.
Q. How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A. From what I can observe the College has done an excellent job in keeping everyone safe, particularly considering that our understanding of this new COVID disease continues to evolve.
Q. Did your district continue to adequately serve students during the disruptions caused by the pandemic? If so, please cite an example of how it successfully adjusted to continue providing services. If not, please cite a specific example of what could have been done better.
A. The steps that have been taken -- contact tracing, limited access to the college, virtual classes, and so forth, all of which many experts have agreed will help to stop the spread of COVID -- seem to have been appropriate, and these same measures are being taken for the spring semester.
Q. Do you have a plan on how to safely and effectively conduct classes in the spring? What have you learned from the fall semester that you would change in the spring?
A. On the other hand, I would like to see the students back in classes full time as soon as can be done in a responsible way. I see no reason, with distancing and masks, why that cannot be. Shutdowns and remote learning simply cannot take the place of attending in-person classes, and interacting socially with your peer group and participating in and attending events that the College offers are vitally important to the students as well, and the lack of these possibilities are certainly a huge disincentive in attracting students to the college.
Q. In tough economic times, many students (and working professionals) turn to a community college for its educational value. How do you ensure that a person's financial sacrifice results in an educational benefit?
A. Ultimately I believe this lies in the hands of the students. They need to be given a way to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses which would put them on a path to success. Good counseling from the faculty is very important. And an avenue for financial aid should also be available.
Q. From the college's point of view, 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?
A. The main budget issue seems to be decreased enrollment, and this is a problem that must be urgently addressed. The quality of the of the faculty must be maintained and yet I do not support any tax increase. at this time. It's a hard job, but in difficult times I believe we need to creatively look for ways to trim wasteful spending while maintaining the vision of the College. It has been widely reported that there is an ongoing exodus of people leaving the state because of our high taxes; eventually this will have a greater effect on the number of students that will enroll, and therefore on the quality of the faculty that the college is able to pay. I would encourage taking a close look at the number of administrative positions during the budgeting process in the search for nonessential costs that might be saved.