Jessica Hinkle – 2021 District 211 Board of Education Election Candidate Questionnaire


Photo courtesy of Jessica Hinkle

Gabe Classon and Maya Nayak

The Viking Logue sent out a questionnaire to all nine candidates in the District 211 Board of Education race. Below is candidate Jessica Hinkle’s unabridged response. See here for The Logue‘s full coverage of the April 6 election, including other candidates’ responses to the questionnaire.


BIOGRAPHY: Tell us about yourself. What qualities, experiences, and skills make you a good choice for the Board?

I am Jessica Hinkle, I was born and raised in Hanover Park, IL. I attended D54 schools then I Graduated from Hoffman Estates High School. I received my Bachelors of Science from Eastern Illinois University, majoring in Zoology and Minoring in Chemistry.

I met my husband while in high school. We were rivals as he Conant High School and I went to Hoffman.

We have been together for over 26 years and have been married for over 22 years.

We started a family and as our kids entered into school, we wanted our kids to have the same great experiences we had in school educationally, emotionally and athletically, so we wanted to be in D21.

We have a freshman at SHS and a 6th grader at Hoover Math and Science Academy. Both boys have been very active in many sports, but are now focused on wrestling and golf.

I have over 20 years of volunteer community involvement at various levels of various groups… from being a PTA member, a football team mom to running organizations and being an active member of various league boards.

Career wise, I am a business professional with 20+ year experience in quality control and quality assurance in the pharmaceutical and dietary supplement industries, with a focus on upholding regulatory systems and implementing operational compliance standards. In many of my roles I have also been responsible for hiring, training and mentoring employees as well as creating and managing multi-million dollar budgets. I believe the success I have had in my career is due to my education, upbringing, being a hard worker and an analytical and critical thinker.

MOTIVATIONS: Why did you decide to run for the Board of Education? What would be your top priorities if elected?

I am seeking to serve our community because, while I do believe D211 has been of the best districts in Illinois, I think we need to do even more. We need to not be complacent and need push forward being focusing on the best student experience while being fiscally responsible. And just as importantly, we need to hear our students, parents and teachers voices and act on them.


How can the district support the mental health, physical well-being, and academic achievement of students during the pandemic? How should the district approach reopening?

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has changed our lives forever, but that doesn’t mean our kids have to suffer. We need to work harder, faster and more creatively at to get back to true/full in-person learning, activities and sports while maintaining a safe environment.

I think this past year’s educational experience has lacked focus on mental and emotional health, social development and interaction. Beside those concerns, the districts response has been very slow paced and is stifling the ability to deliver quality education.

This has no doubt been difficult on the students and teachers and I credit many of the teachers on really trying to make the best of the situation, but as a district, I think we needed and still need to think outside of the box to best support students an teacher.

We need used the localized Covid-19 data to determine how to initiate full in-person learning. We should look to and initiate conversations to our neighboring private schools and districts that have been in-person since the start to learn the do’s and don’t’s. Then To do this we need to set up the classrooms to accommodate for the most possible volume of students in a safe manner. This would include options like the use of Plexiglas (where needed) updating the HVAC units for better filtration, introducing air scrubber units and looking into the value of UV-C in HVAC systems.

We should revisit the original hybrid model presented. Allow for teachers to focus on one or the other platform, but not both at the same time. I think if we communicated this plan out to the parents and students we would see many more students in the classrooms (knowing they would be off of zoom). For those that health concerns that need to stay remote, give them the dedicated resources they need. And for those in school let the teachers speak directly to them, not through a zoom.

Lastly, we need to get students and teachers reengage in academic. In a recent FIOA request shared with me, it was asked how many teachers that have been permitted to work from home, but come onsite for extracurricular activities. I was shocked to see that there were any and all, let alone 10. I personally think that if a teacher can come into the school for extracurricular activities, they should be onsite for teaching too. By allowing this we are indirectly indicating student know that activities are more importance than academics.


STUDENT CONCERNS OVER EQUITY: Over the past year, district students have addressed the Board over racial equity and sexual violence concerns. Please describe how you would approach these issues if elected.

Equity in education requires putting systems in place to ensure that every child has an equal chance for success.

At the last board meeting , during the public comment section one person brought up the inequity of the . A recent FOIA request on SAT preparation offerings. The HS with the lowest number of students on free/discounted lunch offer 85 hours of SAT prep and the HS with the highest level of students on free/discounted lunch offers 5 hours.

Once the public comment portion of the meeting ended, the administration was asked about it.
The response from the administration was … Something along the lines of we offer based off of what they’ve used in the past and the staff available.

I was saddened that the administration is aware of it and hasn’t taken action on In intil the community pushed.

Why aren’t the 85 hours offered at all schools or why not combine the resources and have them float between schools.

Rather than putting our complete focus on cultural responsiveness training, we need to broaden the training and put focus on evaluating the offerings at each school and focus on making changes to our district to reduce the inequities,

If I were elected, I would like to be more poractive I would want to set up Teacher focus groups. Have teachers from the same department across the district come together and discuss how things are done at each school and develop plans to improve the worst situations to the same level as the best situations.

I’d also think that some of the capital projects and resources available at each school should be based on the school specific data

TRANSGENDER STUDENT LOCKER ROOM ACCESS: After five years of vocal community input from both sides of the issue, the district in January 2020 implemented a policy to allow transgender students unrestricted use of the locker room corresponding to their gender identity. What approach should the district take toward transgender student locker room access?

This topic is relatively a moot topic because actions have been taken and this has been closed out. However, I will say that when deciding to make a change to policies that impact the entire student body not and in the future, the safety and wellbeing of the entire student must be taken into consideration and the actions should result in the best outcome for all of the student.

Fiscal Policy

PROPERTY TAXES: Striking the right balance between minimizing the tax burden on district residents and ensuring the future financial security of the district is challenging, especially during these economically uncertain times. What is your stance on abating or rebating a portion of the district’s property tax levy?

District 211 currently has a surplus of money, but continues to burden the tax payers.
While reserves are important, there is no better time than the present to apply the excess funds to improve and enhance conditions in this Covid-19 impacted environment. We are experiences extenuating circumstances in this is exactly the type of scenario that we provided reserves for.
Invariably, as stated earlier when the topic of tax levies comes up, the board’s response it to impulsively vote in favor of increasing the levy. A more thorough investigation of proposed levy increases is needed and our goal should be to:
• Scrutinize proposed increases and approve only the most appropriate and essential.
• Reduce the funding in other budget areas that are non-essential or seemingly frivolous inclusions.
• Insure budget is cleansed on a regular basis of funding allocated to potentially obsolescent items.
• Review and refine reserve funding requirements. Establish funding caps where none exist and/or adjust fund life expectation.
I am confident that we can provide the best experience for our students, while being respectful and accountable to the members of our community.
I am confident that we can provide the best experience for our students, while being respectful and accountable to the members of our community.

EXPENDITURES: In which areas should the district focus its spending? Are there areas where spending should be cut?

See response above.

Role of the Board

COMMUNICATION WITH THE COMMUNITY: Recent months have shown increased community interest in Board proceedings. How should the district communicate with the community? How should the community be able to communicate with the district?

I believe the main thing that needs to be improved on is better visibility and understanding of the current communication process (i.e. knowing where to find the BOE meeting agenda, minutes and videos and knowing the BOE emails).

To take it a step further, I would entertain the the idea of the board having a social media account managed by the board secretary.

COOPERATION WITH OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: While the vast majority of Board resolutions are passed unanimously, many important votes have come down to a 5–2 split. Additionally, some have raised concerns over the introduction of divisive politics into local elections. Please comment on how you would work with other Board members if elected.

All board members and those running for a board position need to remember that the BOE is a non-partisan position and that it is the responsibility of the board to act in the best interest of the student body. Board members are not always going to agree so don’t expect all votes should be unanimous, but I would expect to be able to have good conversation to understand the differences in view of a topic.

Final Thoughts

OTHER ISSUES: You may feel strongly about an issue for which we did not ask a question. If this is the case, please take the opportunity to share your thoughts on that issue here.

I think we could do a better job of, not just preparing our students for college, but preparing them for vocational careers and careers in the trades. Not all students are cut out for college or have an interest for it. We need to improve on how we prepare those student for life after school just as much as the ones we are preparing to go to college. I also think we need to do a better job at preparing our students for the real world. How many students do you know understand how taxes work, how and/or when to invest, how 401Ks/pensions/IRAs work, how unions work, how loans work, etc. These are important things in life that we could do better at preparing you all for.

A POSITIVE NOTE: It’s been a rough year, so let’s end this on a positive note. What is your favorite thing about District 211?

As a product of D211 I know what we have to offer, know what we are capable of doing and know there is more that we can do to optimize the student experience.