David A. Sohmer: 2023 candidate for Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 board


Town: Wheaton

Age on Election Day: 53

Occupation: Technology and operations leader

Employer: First Trust Portfolios

Previous offices held: Wheaton Community Relations Commission


Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?

A: I care deeply about children of CUSD200 and know that education is the key that will unlock opportunities for them. If I had to choose one issue that is a particular motivator, it is academic excellence. Giving our children a top-notch education is what the parents of CUSD200 have hired the school board, administrators and teachers to do. For many years, our children's test scores have been declining. This must stop and when I'm on the school board it will be my first priority.

Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?

A: The school board is ultimately responsible to approve all the curriculum of the district schools. The administration and teachers have a vital role to play in this process but the buck stops with the school board.

Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?

A: I want to review our curriculum to determine if it has been time-tested and successful with our students. The proof is in the pudding. Since test scores in reading and math have been on a decadelong decline we need a thorough review of all of our curriculum.

Q: How do you view your role in confronting policy or curriculum controversies: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents — even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?

A: The board of education is responsible for the curriculum within the district schools. The board should consult the experts, the administration, teachers and parents and give a voice to all constituents. Disagreement will happen but the conversation is necessary and good for our district. The board, the administration and the teachers all ultimately report to parents and the taxpayers who elect a board to ensure that the curriculum is the best we can find for our children and will bring the best results.

Q: Concerns are growing regarding a new resurgence of the pandemic. If another massive outbreak of infectious disease occurs, what have we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that will guide your decision making?

A: We have learned that it was a devastating mistake to close the schools. In the case of COVID-19 the schools should have reopened very quickly once we understood that the chance of severe reaction for school age children was close to zero. Parents are the best people to assess the risk for their children, not bureaucrats.

A one-size-fits-all approach does not work in this case, and many of our most vulnerable district children fell through the cracks. This is unacceptable. When I am on the school board, I will advocate for parents to retain the right to make health related decisions for their children and our schools will respect those rights.

Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage school district policy? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your school board.

A: I have served on a number of boards and currently sit on the Wheaton Community Relations Commission. My style is building consensus and working as a team. I value all viewpoints and try to listen before speaking. I love setting vision and making sure that the result of policy discussions are tangible outcomes not just talk. Our children deserve great results from policies that are set by the board of education.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: I want our school district to get back to the basics. I will have a laserlike focus on academic excellence, ensuring our children have the very best, time-tested curriculum, improving transparency in communication to parents and taxpayers, and welcoming parental engagement.

Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?

A: I want to study the top performing districts in the state and I want to learn the secrets of their success. I want this to inform a strategic plan where the outcome is that CUSD200 rises to the top performing academic district in the state. Together we can achieve this.

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