Editor’s Note: Liliana Murillo is an editor on staff but was not involved in the writing, or editing of this story.

School District 308’s Board of Education election was yesterday, April 4, with a ballot containing two slates of candidates and one individual. The winning slate, collectively named “For the Kids”, includes Jared Ploger, Amy Murillo, Mary Jo Wenmouth, and Dominick Cirone, with Ploger being up for reelection.

In order for the community to learn more about their candidates and what they represent, multiple public forums, candidates’ websites, and other important information has been made available to the public so the candidates’ messages can be shared. 

As a student publication, we notice the importance of a strong and cohesive school district, and recognize our responsibility of addressing the issues impacting our students, staff, and community. As a collective staff, we directed our focus to the overarching issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in our district. We notice the room for improvement in this area not only from what our staff had to share, but from what other students and staff have shared at public forums. Therefore, this issue is of utmost importance, and we recognize the need for improvement in three areas; DEI of our students, DEI of our staff, and DEI of our education. 

Amy Murillo

Amy Murillo was an Education Advisory Council Member for Lauren Underwood. She has worked over 20 years in public schools, with 12 being at OHS. During these years, she worked as school administrators, classroom teacher, and department chair.  

Amy Murillo is looking to diversify the teacher pipeline, and “the diversity of staff, inclusion of more diverse views and representations within the curriculum, and initiatives directly targeting academic and access gaps among different groups of students.” Murillo started the Latin American Student Association and hopes to improve recruitment from highschools and junior high schools. She wants LGBTQ+ students to feel safe, welcome, and seen in the SD308 district but believes there are times where they are not. In order to remedy that, she wants to ensure the curriculum is responsive to the lived experience of these students and LGBTQ+ representation. DEI is a part of Murillo’s core beliefs and wants to expand initiatives.

Amy Murrillo said that DEI is part of her core beliefs as an educator. She believes that district staff should be more diverse, and she wants DEI initiatives to be expanded beyond training.

Murrillo’s goals for the issue of curriculum changes include enhancing student outcomes, incorporating SEL/ culturally responsive practices, and modernizing the overall curriculum. In response to the National Sex Education Standards, she and many of the other candidates on the panel with her agree the district should adopt them, but parents should be able to opt their kids out. 

Mary Jo Wenmouth

Mary Jo Wenmouth has had 35+ years of experience in the Financial Services industry and is currently employed as an Investment Relations Consultant. She does not have any training in regards to the school board but is actively involved in community volunteering. 

Wenmouth believes in an education system that represents the differences in all students and staff. She wants to work on making safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students and other marginalized groups, and include DEI in all teachings if appropriate. 

“As preference is really not a choice, awareness of all types of relationships will help students with an understanding of others, whether or not the situation applies to them specifically. We need to teach in a diverse way, and that includes teaching kids to understand that not everyone views sex in the same way, and that’s ok.”

Wenmouth believes that diversity in SD308 relates to the student population and is hoping to attract more non-white teachers into the district. In regards to AP African American Studies, Wenmouth feels they are very important and school is where learning needs to happen.

Mary Jo Wenmouth believes DEI within the district can be improved. “It should be considered in all teachings, if appropriate,” she said.

Her views on DEI in education are that it needs to be improved. Her proposed areas of improvement focus on creating a curriculum centered around an accurate reflection of history and current events.

She was asked at the March 13 public forum if she would adopt the AP African American Studies. She thought it should absolutely be included into the district’s curriculum as it focuses on an accurate reflection of history. She argued that the school is a space to learn and this class will provide not only social but also emotional learning. 

Dominick Cirone

Dominick Cirone, who is one of two candidates up for re-election, is running on the For the Kids Slate. He has earned a BA in Accounting, BS in Finance, a MBA in Accounting, and is a certified treasury professional. He volunteers in various groups including Kiwanis, PTAG, and BPAC. He is also involved in the community at Brokaw, is a Oswego Planning & Zoning Commissioner, and is a part of multiple SD308 Committees.

When asked if LGBTQ students are treated fairly in the SD308 district, he believes we are making improvements but we can help LGBTQ+ students feel safe by addressing stereotypes in curriculum and culture. He wants to improve DEI with “inclusive, equitable and diverse offerings and training” that will “strengthen our school district and help produce higher achievement.” As far as steps to take to lower substance abuse, Cirone wants to help students work on their overall happiness and achievement in order to lessen the chance of creating bad habits. Looking at the impact of mental health on students, Cirone believes that we can not look at all students the same way because it’s situational but serious. He believes students should be able to lean on educators and be given the opportunity to express themselves and their student voice. 

Cirone believes that the district has come far in relation to DEI, but that it can always be improved.

“Having inclusive, equitable, and diverse offerings and training will strengthen our school district and help produce higher achievement,” Cirone said.

Cirone’s vision on curriculum changes for SD308 is that there needs to be constant review of the curriculum in order to provide the most updated and research-based education. 

His approach to adopting the National Sex Education Standards allows students to learn the curriculum but parents can opt them out if they choose.

Jared Ploger

Jared Plodger works as Educator-Valley View 365U and has been an Oswego CUSD Member 2015-2019 and 2022-2023. He also was on the Board of Education (B.O.E) during the 2022-2023 term and was named Master Board of Education Member from IASB.

Jared Ploger wants all students to be celebrated, including LGBTQ+ students, and understands the importance of support systems. Jared Ploger claims that teachers in the district are paid lower salaries than teachers in other districts. “If you are a teacher entering at the lowest pay rate, Oswego pays lower than IPSD 204, U-46, West and East Aurora, CUSD300, St. Charles, Yorkville, and Plano,” Ploger said. He believes that the district must fill positions required by law as well as ones that could aid the “most vulnerable” students. Ploger supports raising teacher salaries in order to attract and retain staff. 

Ploger said the district should prioritize “embedding pieces of DEI” into its departments.

His approach to changing curriculum revolves around the idea of the curriculum review cycle in order to keep up with evolving needs. 

His stance was made clear at the public forum held at Traughber Junior High School on March 13. When questioned about the events taking place in Florida and his response to such actions, he strongly disagreed with the policies that were being passed and the changes happening in Florida. He related the events to his own classroom environment, as he described talking about current topics with his students in class, and these policies would diminish his ability to answer students’ questions and be an educator.

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Student Publication of Oswego High School, Oswego, IL


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