Juan Manuel Sifuentes Jr.: 2023 candidate for East Aurora Unit District 131 board, 4-year term
Age on Election Day: 42
Occupation: Court and office operations manager
Employer: Kane County Circuit Clerk's office
Previous offices held: East Aurora Unit District 131 board since 2019
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
A: I am running for re-election, the reason for running is to give back to my community. The students that attend the district is ultimately the main goal. As board members, we have to make sure that every decision we make is taking them into account along with staff and taxpayers in mind. I also have three kids that attend three different schools and that gives me additional insight to better make decisions for the district.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: The role of the school board is to approve curriculum and set the vision of the district, by following all of the state and federal guidelines. Currently, the curriculum board monitors the curriculum and will bring new ideas and suggestions through that committee.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: At the moment, I don't feel that there is an issue with the current curriculum.
Q: How do you view your role in confronting policy or curriculum controversies: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?
A: When making decisions that we don't agree with, we have to make sure that we listen to all of the stakeholders. We have to listen to the students, staff, parents, etc. From there, even if a decision is unpopular, it has to be the best for the students at the end of the day.
Q: Concerns are growing regarding a new resurgence of the pandemic. If another massive outbreak of infectious disease occurs, what have we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that will guide your decision making?
A: If another resurgence with regard to COVID-19 were to occur, we are better prepared today than we were at the start of the pandemic. We have purchased air purifiers throughout the district to ensure the students/staff have clean air. Students also have assigned electronic devices to be able to log on from home and continue their learning.
Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage school district policy? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your school board.
A: Over the last 4 years, I have had the pleasure of working with the board setting policy. Over that time, we had to review the COVID-19 district policy, vision and strategy that we would follow. Additionally, I am currently an operations manager and have had to determine policy for the employees that I oversee. I would say that my style in reaching an agreement is very relaxed and calm demeanor. All of us have been able to openly express our opinions and make the best decision.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: While all candidates bring a different perspective, I believe that I am the best candidate for the job. I know what the responsibilities are, being elected to the District 131 school board. I am a parent of three kids that currently attend three different schools in the district and that allows me to know what is happening on a lower level while also making decisions on a higher level.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: With COVID-19, some students did fall behind from not being in a traditional school setting and being at home. I would like to see the district continue to work with students who fell behind in some areas and see where we can catch some students back to where the national norms are.