Candidate profile: John McDole

Name: John McDole

Age: 40

Town: Edwardsville

Occupation: Mortgage lender at TheBANK of Edwardsville

Position seeking: Edwardsville District 7 School Board (in-township, 2-year term)

Campaign website: www.d7matters.com

Why are you running and why should people vote for you? Public education is incredibly important to the future of our community’s children and, frankly, the future of our community. I want to be part of building on District 7’s tradition of excellence and enhancing that incredible tradition for generations. My wife, Karla (Carroll), and I were both born and raised in this community, and we’re both products of the District 7 system. We have a son in second grade at Nelson Elementary, and our daughter will start kindergarten there next year. Currently, I have the privilege of working with parents, teachers and administrators in my role as PTO Treasurer at Nelson, and I’m on the Citizens Advisory Council for the School District. It’s clear to me that the relationship between the success of the school district and the success of our community is symbiotic. So, I’ve also made it a priority to be involved in the work of our city. I’m on the Plan Commission and Land Use Committee for the City of Edwardsville, working alongside elected officials and staff to make sure that the future is strong for our city.

What are the most important issues the school district faces, and how would you approach them? 1) New superintendent — Our new board will need to work with Mr. Jason Henderson and his staff to determine what our core values are as a district and then communicate these values to the faculty and staff of the district and taxpayers of District 7 as well. 2) Financial recovery — The District is in a fiscal recovery process, which began with the passage of Proposition E in April of 2017. It will be up to our board to make sure that this recovery continues to the point where District 7 is off the financial watch list of the state, and to see to it that a dire situation like the one we were in leading up to 2016 never happens again. 3) Technology — One of the byproducts of the aforementioned financial difficulties was a lack of innovation within the district. Not only is the district behind when it comes to providing students access to adequate technology resources, but more importantly our teachers are in need of advancements in technology in their classrooms.

Under what circumstances would you vote to raise property taxes? With the recent passage of Proposition E in 2017, it would require a worst-case situation for me to get behind raising property taxes again. For the last 12 years , I’ve worked as a home mortgage lender at TheBANK of Edwardsville, so I’ve dealt with the property taxes of District 7 residents just about every day over that time. I’ve seen firsthand how property taxes affect the cost of living, and I’ve seen how they affect people’s ability to purchase homes in District 7. I’ve also seen firsthand that because of the quality of our schools there is higher-than-normal demand to live in our communities, which also results in growth and development. There is a balance to this, and I believe I have the knowledge and experience to see the big picture when it comes to property taxes — both in how they fund schools and how they affect the residents of the school district.

What are your goals for the district/what do you want to accomplish? 1) Implementing career and technical education — With the size and diversity of our student population, I feel like we are doing a disservice to our youth by not offering these types of programs. There is currently a great need for employees with these skill sets in the workforce and that will only continue into the future. 2) Improved resources to deal with mental health issues and designing programs for behaviorally/emotionally disturbed students — This is greater than a student being diagnosed as having a behavioral or emotional disorder, which is becoming increasingly common. It’s also non-diagnosed students not being able to communicate their feelings and emotions effectively that can lead to outbursts or negative behaviors. 3) Improve communication within and outside of the district — Communication in an organization of any kind is a function of the overall culture of the group. Employees want to feel valued for their work and contributions. The same approach needs to be taken with taxpayers and our elected officials in Springfield. Open lines of communication must be in place to determine what we value as communities and what we value in education.

What is your position on the proposed increase in minimum wage for teachers in Illinois? We need to support our teachers. With that in mind , I am in support of an increase in the minimum salary for teachers in our state. A district’s ability to hire and retain quality teachers is the key driver in having a successful school district and children who go on to great things in life. If we want an educated, functional, thriving group of communities, we need good teachers who are fairly compensated and know they are valued. All teachers in the state have had to sacrifice because of how education has been funded. I feel that our faculty and staff have paid a huge price for the financial hardships of District 7, and to their credit, a vast majority have stayed with the district despite these issues.