Candidate Name: Adam Russo
Office Seeking: School District 203 School Board
Campaign Website: arussoford203.com
Subdivision/Neighborhood: Walnut Ridge
Closest School: River Woods/Madison
Occupation and/or Professional Training: Licensed Clinical Social Worker
How long in years have you been a Naperville resident? 21 years
Number of school-age children? 3
Service on Boards, Commissions, Task Forces, etc. with dates served (nonprofit too):
Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Board 2012-2018 – Board Chair for 2 years
The following answers have only been edited for formatting purposes.
1. Why are you running to serve the board of education?
Given my field of work and active volunteering with D203 over the past decade, I always thought I would run eventually. I’m running now because I believe there needs to be leadership at the Board level to ensure kids are back in school, full time (with potential remote option) by September.
2. What is the school district’s most pressing need?
There will be many. First is giving parents the option of sending their kids back full time should they so choose. Currently, the choices are weighted towards one side of the discussion and I believe this needs to be leveled out.
3. What are strengths and weaknesses, if any, of the school district’s programs dedicated toward special education students, English Language Learners (ELL), students “in the middle” and gifted students?
D203 has historically done well to work to ensure these programs are strong. I do believe that these programs will have to be reassessed as students with increased needs are most likely going to see a dip from their previous levels of achievement after having decreased instruction over the past year.
4. Name three District 203 policies that need review or immediate attention.
I see two. As I’ve stated, I would want parents to have the choice to get their children back in school full time. I do believe the Superintendent having full decision making authority must be immediately rescinded by the Board. This situation has gone on too long.
5. How often are you in touch with members of the current School Board? And how many years have you attended/watched school board meetings live or after they’re saved in the archive?
In the past, I’ve casually followed Board meetings and decisions. More recently, I’ve tried to be in touch with members of the Board, but they’ve eventually stopped responding to my comments and questions. I think its imperative for Board members to remain engaged with the community regardless of whether they agree with the perspective that their constituent may be asking about.
6. What up-and-coming City of Naperville development do you think will impact School District 203 funding the most? As a board member, where would you look to make budget adjustments?
The 5th ave development is probably the most impactful in my view. Given that teachers just received a 3.3% increase and there will be a 10 million dollar back to taxpayers, I’d like to know what the projections look like and if there will need to be administrative cuts in order to offset projected increases in salaries.
7. In a public relations role as a school board member, how would you orientate a new family to the school district? What engagement opportunities would you suggest for parents to connect with the school regarding volunteer activities, parent-teacher committees to oversee curriculum, etc.
The first thing I would say is for them to get involved with the Home and School at their respective schools. I’ve worked with many Home and Schools over the years by providing mental health presentations at no cost. The leaders are friendly, informed, and want to connect parents to each other.
8. Consider K-12 core curriculum to include English (reading, language arts writing), science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts (STEAM), foreign languages, computer science, civics/government/current events, economics, history, geography, physical education/health and social-emotional learning standards. If the school district were forced to eliminate a subject in order to add a new one, what would you eliminate? Any thought of what you would add at what grade level? What’s the parents’ role in monitoring curriculum changes and choices?
This is hypothetical, but if I were going to remove a core subject, I’d remove computer science and make it elective. I’d then build the SEL standards into more of a class as I believe ‘soft skills’ correlate to success in adult much more than grades, SAT scores, and college attended (many studies support this as well). Parents should always voice their desires to leadership and that should be presented as necessary to the Board.
9. Research reveals that high self-esteem and student achievement are closely related to positive parental involvement in school. Considering growing interest in school choice, home-schooling and private schools, what are your thoughts on school vouchers?
I do believe dollars should fund kids, not systems. If our system isn’t doing a good job and parents want to leave, they should have the choice. We can choose what grocery store we go to, etc, same should be true for schools. It’s our job to ensure that parents want their kids in our schools because the quality of what we provide is just that good. If we’re scared of that, then there’s a larger, systemic issue we need to address.
10. When was the last time you read the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?
11. Have you received any donations or endorsements from any organized group(s)? If so, which groups?
None, I am self funded.
12. Name the school teacher who most influenced you. Please include grade, school, city and state. (Parents/family are not eligible.)
Neil Ginsburg, Social Studies, Scarsdale High School, Scarsdale, NY.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I think the Board showed by vacating their authority and giving it to the Superintendent for so long, they don’t have a leadership to move the district forward. As an entrepreneur and therapist, I am comfortable speaking about the realities that families are experiencing and asking the difficult questions in order to get to a resolution that changes the status quo.