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District 833 School Board candidate: Wael Abdelkader

Name: Wael Abdelkader

Age: 45

City: Woodbury

Occupation: Business Development Manager

Family: Married with 4 children

How do your skills or experience set you apart as a candidate?

I am a parent of students in the district, a teacher in a local Sunday school, son of a history teacher, and IT consulting experience to several charter schools. I also have extensive real estate and lending experience. My experience in nonprofit, corporate and small business will aid me while making tough decisions in an efficient and effective manner, without sacrificing quality. I am a community organizer and grassroots leader in diversity, equity and health. I will bring in a unique perspective which stems from a diverse professional and personal background.

What do you believe the school board can do to narrow academic achievement gaps?

Start with identifying root causes and the needs of our multiple communities within our district. Recruiting diverse specialized talents in this field to engage students and guide them to passion for learning. Create a culture that accommodates student's unique learning styles, teachers feel valued, and strong partnership with parents. Establish and fund focused programs to improve district's academic performance as a whole. Create policies that offer tools, resources, and training to teachers, lower classroom ratios, allow for teachers to be creative and involved in decision making processes when tackling the achievement gap.

Is the budget and school funding the biggest challenge facing the district?

I believe budget is a top challenge, however, there are other challenging issues equally as important: Budget, academic performance, achievement gap, community engagement, data security and professional development. These areas of focus will be my priority as a board member. Efficiency and effectiveness are first steps to tackle our budget issue. Start internally by reviewing current contracts and services offered by third parties. Then externally, by working with legislatures, applying for grants, and educational philanthropy institutions. We've to think out of box in raising funds beyond traditional methods. Provide professional development for teachers and staff to improve overall outcomes. Review information and data security policies, operation risk mitigation and implement actionable plans to better manage district operation.