D86 candidate Justin Baron's questionnaire

Justin Paul Baron

Attendance area: Hinsdale South

Years in district: 15

Age: 21

Education: Lewis University with Bachelors of Science in Economics and Finance

Occupation: Student

Community service:

Board experience: four years as a student at Hinsdale South

Why are you running for this particular seat at this particular time?

In college I did extensive research into the district with my work shown at Lewis University’s Celebration of Scholarship and speaking at their First Year Writer Showcase. During that time, the current board members used fear to pass their school improvement referendums. The behavior of the current school board can only be summed up to gross negligence and I believe I can change the current environment of fear in the community.

What in your personal or professional experience has prepared you to be an effective board member?

I was a student at Hinsdale South and I graduated in May of 2017. Earlier that school year bad school board policies failed and spilled over into student’s lives with the teacher’s union hours away from going on strike. That experience forced me to become informed and learn more about what was happening in the community. That drive carried with me into college to where I am now.

What in your opinion are the board’s three most important responsibilities?

Stability. Schools run the best when the district provides teachers with the proper resources and appropriately addresses concerns of the community. That has not happened over the past several years which has led to extreme controversy and division. The fact that so 10 candidates are running for the four open seats this election cycle shows how bad the school board has governed themselves.

Union. Our district encompasses a diverse range of races, socioeconomic statuses, and ideas, we need to have a school board that listens to everyone’s concerns. Through listening and taking the advice of all community members we can create a solid union which will lead to stability and a better school district.

Fairness. We should make active attempts to point out differences between the schools and create a more equal environment for the students living in the community. This includes fixing the large enrollment imbalance and the end of using fear.

What is the district’s greatest strength? Which area is most in need of attention?

The district’s greatest strength is the ability to serve the community with both high schools ranking as some of the best in the nation, every family in the district should be proud to send their children to either school. The area that needs the most attention is the district’s commitment to diversity and equality inside the schools. Hinsdale South has a larger percentage of African American and Latino students than Hinsdale Central, while the district was lucky to avoid a federal lawsuit several years ago on the issue, it will come up again if South continues to be underutilized.

What is the most pressing budgetary matter the district will face over the next four years?

The rate at which the State of Illinois is funding education, J.B. Pritzker’s bad policies have resulted in record decreases in state revenues. Which in turn means less money for the district which makes it harder to plan budgets and serve the needs of our students. District 86 should expect zero financial help from the state in the near future, so we as a district need to step up and learn to live without state help, we have the resources to do so and we must act now.

What will be your top three priorities if elected?

1. To balance enrollment between the two schools. Hinsdale Central is consistently overcrowded while Hinsdale South is underutilized. The board’s decision to ignore the problem in 2018 will lead them to seek more money from voters unnecessarily. Efficient usage of district assets is attainable only when enrollment is balanced.

2. The end of using fear for political gains. Every member on the school board needs to shut up and grow up, to be adults for our students lest they suffer more than they have already.

3. After my initial priorities are accomplished, my final goal is stability. Our schools should run themselves with little to no interference from the board. This laissez faire approach will allow and encourage our students to grow into the best citizens they can be.

Please cite a recent board decision that you have agreed with and one that you have disagreed with and briefly explain your reason(s) why.

I fully support the board decision to continue with hybrid instruction even under the pressure of rising COVID-19 cases. I strongly support families being able to make the decision on what is the best environment for their children in this unique time. Offering hybrid instruction while still offering a fully online environment for families who have safety concerns is the best decision for everyone involved.

I disagree with the board’s assessment on revamping science and math curriculum. I think introducing statistical concepts with algebra and geometry will confuse students, and be a struggle for teachers who have to bounce between the two subjects during class time. It is also unclear if this will be a replacement of the statistics class offered already or how it will help standardized testing scores. In terms of the school’s science curriculum we should switch to the same sequence that the rest of the schools in the state use. Even though most children do not change schools during their high school years, our odd science sequence makes kids who do change districts be underprepared for certain course material if they leave or over prepared if they move into the district.