Ronald Amato: 2023 candidate for Naperville Unit District 203 board

  • Ronald Amato

    Ronald Amato

Posted3/10/2023 1:00 AM


Town: Naperville


Age on Election Day: 53

Occupation: Claims consultant

Employer: CNA Insurance

Previous offices held: N/A


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 am a longtime resident and parent of two students in the district. My wife and I moved to Naperville, in part, because of our public schools. As a candidate, I am focused on maintaining strong schools and improving them wherever possible. I care about Naperville and our students, and believe in the importance of public education. As an attorney and business professional who has held leadership roles on several boards in Naperville, I feel compelled to run in order to further serve my community.

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

A: The school board has a responsibility to work with administrators and educators to develop and monitor curriculum, in addition to being mindful of state mandates. Our educators are the professionals, and must be given deference. I am not an administrator or classroom teacher. But, as elected officials who represent parents and taxpayers in the district, board members must exercise independent judgment in this area and be willing to voice their thoughts and concerns.

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

A: At this time, it appears that the district's IAR test scores are rebounding to where they were pre-pandemic, and, at the high school level, students are making up lost ground. But, there is more work to be done. I believe it is important to maintain a focus on core academic subjects such as math, science, English/language arts and literacy, and social studies. This will allow more students to meet state readiness standards and be prepared for life after high school.

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: I have served in leadership roles on the boards of several nonprofits, including as board president of a large service club in Naperville, and currently serve on the city's Fire Pension Fund Board. I have had to navigate through controversial issues and make tough decisions while working in a boardroom setting. I understand that not everyone will agree with a board's decisions. I have the right temperament to listen to all sides of an issue before reaching a decision, and am not afraid to make decisions that may be unpopular.

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: COVID was unprecedented, and board members had to make tough decisions. In hindsight, the remote learning model (as opposed to hybrid or in-person learning) was not ideal for a number of reasons, including the impact on students' learning and mental health. Further, despite mitigation, many students in our district ultimately contracted COVID. In general, otherwise healthy students contracting COVID did not experience severe illness (though there certainly are some at-risk students). Those are important factors to be considered when evaluating future mitigation efforts.

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: While I have not held elected office, I am in the dispute resolution business (having handled or overseen many litigation and arbitration matters in my career), and constantly work with others to resolve issues and solve problems. As an attorney, I am trained to evaluate all sides of an issue before formulating an opinion. I work well with others and can help the board to reach a consensus on policy issues. The board is made up of seven individuals, each of whom has input. I believe that I can contribute to the discussion and convey my thoughts in an articulate manner.

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

A: I bring a lot to the table in terms of my professional background (as an attorney and insurance claims professional with a background in investments and finance), and have been very involved in the local nonprofit community, focused on organizations that do a lot for kids in our community. I also believe that I am relatively moderate, work well with others, and exercise good judgment.

Importantly, I also really care about Naperville and, as a parent, care about maintaining high-quality public schools while responsibly managing resources.

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

A: One item that I've touched on is my desire to do a bit more to educate students on how to be safe on their devices and avoid online predators. I feel this is a very important issue.

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