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Oswego Election 2015: Jared Ploger, Candidate for School District 308 Board

Mar 17, 2015 07:18PM, Published by Steven Jack, Categories: Education, News




Name: Jared Ploger

Website: www.ploger308.com

Employment: Valley View 365U

Family: Wife-Monica (married 11.5 years), Two sons-14 and 7, 

Education: B.A. History NIU M.A. Education (Reading Specialist Program) Olivet Nazarene

Previously elected office: None

Relevant community service: Served on OPAC for Long Beach Elementary School, Created Father’s Forum at Long Beach Elementary School, Coached Oswego East Wolfpack  Feeder Program, 

What makes you qualified to serve on the School District 308 School Board?  

As an educator, I have nine years of experience in the classroom.  In addition, I have served on Language Arts and Social Studies curriculum and test writing committees.  I have served on a district calendar writing committee. I have also served on IESA committees which influence decisions made at the governing level.  

What do you believe is the role of a School Board member? 

I believe it is the role of a School Board Member to evaluate the job of upper administration, set the budget and priorities, and communicate with all stakeholders and conduct extensive research so as to make the best possible decisions for our students to succeed. 

What should be the No. 1 priority for the next School Board? 

Restore Communication, Cooperation and trust between the District and students, parents, community members, other governmental bodies in our communities, and our staff. 

What are you plans to help repair broken relationships between the district and parent groups, including BPAC and Special Education? 

Ironic, since this is my number one priority.  I want to increase the outreach conducted by our Superintendent and Board.  However, this won’t be enough.  It’s going to take some hard work, time, and cooperation.  The first thing I’m going to do as a Board Member is remind our Superintendent and Board about the results that the audits revealed.  I vow to always fight for Special Education to be included in discussions in EVERY program.  I believe the administration needs to answer WHY there was no Special Education representation in the DL Audit or there to be present for Twice Exceptional students as we attempt to run a true GATE Program here at Oswego 308. 

In the face of dwindling state education dollars, what can and should be done to ease the District 308 property tax burden for local homeowners? 

I believe we can solve this issue with long term outside the box solutions.  First, keeping our retired citizens here should be a priority.  I feel this can be done by capping their property taxes.  As a boy growing up in Somonauk, those of us in this area were able to watch the growing pains that occurred in Districts like 204 as they grew.  

One thing that happened in Naperville was that many retired citizens lost the ability to afford to stay in their homes, even after they were paid off.  Having retired citizens stay here, even at a lower tax rate than you or I will actually manage our growth in our schools.  Also, since times are so tough, we should be taking full advantage of our business community. 

Many businesses would like to assist our schools with things like discounts for teachers.  This helps boost morale while also increasing economic activity to our local businesses.  We are a community and we need our schools to be a part of our communities not apart from our communities. 

Many teachers and administrators have left the district in recent years. What should be done to improve employee retention in the district? 

I have met many teachers and administrators that have left this district.  Money was not always the issue and it was never the only issue.  I would like those teachers who are rated excellent or proficient and administrators who by choice leave our district to fill out an anonymous survey to be compiled by our administrator in charge of Human Resources.  That data should be reported to the Board every year.  We’re going to have to ask some difficult questions.  As PERA legislation hopes to hold teachers more accountable, so do I feel that it is not too much to ask our administrators to also be held accountable. This is going to force them to build productive relationships and work harder WITH parents and teachers.  

Should every elementary school in the district be home to all-day kindergarten classes?  

Yes.  Our most vulnerable students should be taken care of.  I’ve heard a great deal in the disappointment in our reading programs from some stakeholders.  What better way to improve reading abilities than to take advantage of more exposure to a reading curriculum for those students who reach reading readiness at an earlier age.  Warehousing our most vulnerable students needs to end.  

Is there any place in the district for a two-way language immersion program, now or in the future?  

Yes.  When the district released its information about the amount of two-way language immersion programs in the state, they used numbers from 2010.  What they did not tell the public, BOE or anyone else was that in Illinois it has grown by over 100% since that date to this year.  This is despite Oswego making history becoming the first district in the state to kill one, as more are set to start next year.  

Our district has used the World Language issue as a phantom argument.  The idea of World Languages was very popular when the district sent out that very vague concept to the general public.  However, it now stands to basically bring in a vendor that would work with kids after school and/or on the weekend.  I do not believe the vast majority of parents who were excited about the concept of World Languages, were excited about this concept. 

What level of participation should the community have in drawing new school boundary lines?

What must not be repeated ever again, are special interests when it comes to drawing lines.  The community MUST be heard when it comes to drawing boundary lines.  If we are talking about redrawing lines, we should be seeking those who would like to serve now.  We should be preparing NOW.  What we shouldn’t do is wait until the last possible second and then ask for our community to give recommendations quickly and push something through that not enough people understand.  

How would you rate the job performance of the current district administration? Please explain. 

I believe our current district administration has a huge challenge.  They were told by a BOE that this district needed a scorched Earth approach.  They are asked to deal with a huge amount of debt in a district that is taxed to its limit.  That’s not an easy proposition.  

However, that is why it is even more imperative that relationships with our stakeholders be built, grown and/or maintained.  I believe most citizens of this district DO understand our situation.  The fact that so many feel left out, marginalized, or fearful of our current administration is an indication of what little has been done to include those stakeholders in our situation. The fact is we are treated as part of the problem.  That’s a failed strategy.  It isn’t about the situation we are in.  It’s how they have dealt with that situation.  

The achievement gap between students with IEPs and non IEP students continues to widen in the district. In your opinion, why is this happening? What should the district do to close that gap? 

This is not unique to Oswego.  That said, there are many factors that contribute to this gap.  Some gaps are going to exist.  On the other hand, some gaps exist because we are not servicing our IEP students properly.  

Again, I would point towards communication at the parent level needing to improve as well as improving our understanding of the data we process and look at.  Also, how are we evaluating our twice exceptional students?  If we continue to warehouse Special Education students, our twice exceptional students run the risk of being left out of schools, programs and experiences which could not only see those students exceed at a higher level but it would also increase our scores from students with IEP’s. 

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