Editor's note: Every day this week, we'll publish a new Q&A with someone involved in New Lenox School District 122. Check back each day for a new interview.
Nick DiSandro was elected to the District 122 school board in April, and was surprisingly chosen as board president by his peers later that month. As he heads into his first full academic year on the school board, DiSandro talks about what he's learned so far and what will be important in the year to come.
What is the biggest priority for the school board heading into this year?
My instant reaction to that is money. The board is focused now on truly making sure we’re making the right decisions and making sure we’re not affecting our children poorly. We'll address our bond debt, tax levies, registration fees. These are tight times and we're trying to make decisions that will help people.
How do you think the board can improve communication with the public, as you said you wanted to during the election?
The first thing is obviously people come to the meetings and trying to keep that dialogue a bit more open than in the past. We've also been talking about in the future, if we have certain issues come up, possibly having public forums to have parents come and give input. An example is if we’re doing something like the bus schedule changes. Major changes that will affect the entire district.
As long as we focus on communicating … I think that more questions get answered, people feel better and they understand more.
Supt. Mike Sass has said prioritizing building projects will be key for this board, so how do you think you’ll accomplish that?
(Facilities Director Bob Nelson) does an amazing job. He really gets into the meat and potatoes of every building. He's taking a fine-tooth comb and saying there’s some issues here and there. He presented his top 10 list, and safety is coming to the top of that list.
What are some things you’re excited about this year?
I'm excited to see how the new language arts adoption goes through. The teachers were very eager to get a new program. You always want our kids to have the most current programs and stay up to date on everything.
We also did this guard rail thing (to install them along roads near Nelson and Oster-Oakview) and searching out other things to increase safety.
Also, the new website that's being built. It majorly needed an overhaul. The district and (communications director) Jenny Zimmerman have worked very hard on revamping that entire thing. We want the entire community to look at it. It’s going to be a very proactive website.
What have you learned so far during your few months on the school board?
I’ve learned a lot of amazing things. There are a lot of people that come together to make sure this district is great. Between the board, administrators and teachers, there are a lot of passionate people that want to do what’s best. I've learned a lot about our tax base and finances in the district; it’s not just schoolwork, and there’s so much complexity. It’s a difficult time to be on any board just trying to make the right decisions. But it’s a good challenge.
Questions or suggestions? You can contact District 122 school board members at firstname.lastname@example.org.