Candidate profile: Barbara Ducey

Barbara Ducey is a candidate for the Signal Hill District 181 school board.
Barbara Ducey is a candidate for the Signal Hill District 181 school board.

Name: Barbara Ducey

Age: 68

Family members: Married with three children

Home: Belleville

Office seeking: Signal Hill School Board Candidate

Occupation: Retired

Previous and current elected offices and terms served: Signal Hill School Board Member, 2013 to present

Why are you running? I ran in 2013 because I was concerned about the achievement gaps between low-income and non-low income students. While some progress has been made, it remains the elephant in the room. I would like the opportunity as a Board member to revisit this issue and work with the other Board members and administration to develop policies that would specifically address the causes for our lack of success in moving these students forward. School Board’s must do whatever they can to see that every one of our students has opportunities to reach his or her academic potential, and ensure there is no difference between achievement levels by race, gender or economic status.

What is the most important issue facing the Signal Hill School District? How would you approach it? Building a community-wide culture of academic excellence where there would be no excuses for poor performance and failure would not be an option. How would I approach it? I know the only way a school goes from being a good school to being a great school is with community support and that starts with building relationships. We have 377 students in our school and over 1,600 households in our district. Our neighbors pay school taxes religiously, year after year. It’s their money that keeps our water running and our lights on, the building warm and our employees paid. I think it’s time to invite community members, parents, educators, district leaders, and business owners over for cookies and a chat …so together… we can determine where Signal Hill School is today and where it needs to go.

Should a school district’s teacher demographics mirror that of its student demographics? Why or why not? I have no perspective on what it’s like to grow up as part of a culture that is not considered mainstream in this country. I am, however, a mother and I do know how important it is for children to have good role models. It is not racist or sexist to encourage more diversity in a field with such an impact on our country’s youth. Schools need innovative, literate, competent, and dedicate individuals of all colors and ethnicities who understand that not all teaching is done in a classroom. However, what’s more important than the race or ethnic background of a teacher is their character, heart, commitment and desire to help. A good teacher is good regardless of their color, and a good student will perform for a good teacher regardless of the race of that teacher.

How much emphasis should your school district put on STEM education? The first time I had a science class in school was 7th grade. All the teacher did was sit behind his desk and read from a book and give us worksheets. I hated that class. The teacher was boring and he taught me science was boring and there was no way I wanted any part of science. You know what’s so said about all that? If that man would have – just once – exploded some Mentos or made a volcano rupture – he might have had me. Why? Because kids are naturally curious about how things work. The STEM program takes advantage of this curiosity and engages kids in the early years of their education. It capitalizes on their interests and builds on what they know. Before you know it, that “God, this is boring mindset” is out of the equation. STEM makes core subjects like math and science relevant to kids, fosters creativity across the curriculum, inspires curiosity and teaches kids ways to solve real world problems through hands-on activities. So…how much emphasis should our district put on STEM? In my opinion, as much as we can.

In St. Clair County, there will be votes for two sales tax referendums. One would benefit school facility costs, one would benefit public safety. Do you support either or both of the referendums? Why or why not? I support both taxes for the following reasons: First: Tax payers have total control over paying the tax or not. This is a sales tax. We only pay a 1% tax if we buy specific items. Groceries and prescription and over the counter drugs are not subject to this tax. (I like this idea because I make the decisions over how and where I spend my money.) Second: There are restrictions on how this money can be used. The school can only use it to pay down the district’s bonds or make improvements to school facilities. (I like this idea because it carries with it the possibility of a reduction in our school tax levy. Keep in mind: There are multiple taxing districts on our tax bill. Also, if home values rise, taxes go up exponentially.) Finally, and most importantly: Good schools and safe neighborhoods increase property values.

Why should people vote for you? I have served on the Signal Hill School Board and Building and Grounds Committee for four years and have been President of the Signal Hill NA for the past 28 years. I helped organize the West End Neighborhood Summer Camp in 2013, a six-week, all-day camp for both public and private elementary school children in Belleville’s West End. I also serve on the Boards of two local nonprofits, as well as a state foundation that offers outdoor education opportunities to children throughout Illinois. I have a passion for public service and proven leadership in numerous organizations supporting our school, students and community. I learn a great deal from the people around me and I work to make sure I surround myself with people with different perspectives as me. I try to be authentic and genuine. I want families in the district to know me - not just the decisions I make, but who I am as a person - because that’s what shapes my decisions. I would be honored to receive your vote on April 4.