Doug Holt

Central Street Neighbors Association School Board Questionnaire



Doug HoltName: Doug Holt

Candidate for: District 202

Voting address:
2447 Lincolnwood Dr.


Years lived in school district: 15

Campaign website:

Campaign phone: 312-662-8315

E-mail address:

Other websites on which you post campaign statements or positions:

Facebook Page: Doug Holt for ETHS District 202 School Board

Campaign Chair: Gail Jones Klopfer

Treasurer: Karen Larkin

Campaign manager or consultant(s): Quinn Ford

Elective or appointive public or party offices previously held including dates:

Member - District 65 Ad Hoc Citizen's Budget Committee - 2011

What is your primary occupation?

Corporate Communications Director, Northern Trust

Breifly list your past civic activities. If numerous list here the five most relevant:

  • Member - District 65 Ad Hoc Citizen's Budget Committee

  • Founding member & volunteer: St. Vincent de Paul Society chapter, St. Joan of Arc (provides direct assistance to > 150 needy families/year)

  • Peace Corps volunteer, Central African Republic - English as a Foreign Language & Biology high school teacher


What subjects have you studied and what experience have you had which will be most helpful to you as you serve on the school board?

I studied biology and journalism at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. My Peace Corps training stressed skills, adaptability and cultural sensitivity, and intensive study of French and Sango. I attended Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, graduating with honors in 1989. I worked as a reporter for 15 years, including at the Chicago Tribune and Dallas Morning News. I studied Spanish in Mexico at the Instituto Cultural de Oaxaca.


Please list all endorsements you have received so far.  You may also use this space if desired to indicate what you consider to be your principal base(s) of support and why you want voters to consider your endorsements or support base.

My broad and diverse group of supporters tend to support evidence-based decision making based on a careful setting of goals and measurable strategies and tactics to pursue those goals. Our supporters include current and former Evanston school board members including Eileen Budde, Bob Eder, Margaret Lurie, Hecky Powell and Mary Anne Wexler; Evanston City Council members Mark Tendam and Ann Rainey; and Northwestern University professors including Seth Lichter, Therese McGuire, Lois Trautvetter. For a full list, please see!


Essence of Campaign. Briefly, why are you running and why should a voter give you one of his or her votes? How will electing you make a difference?

As a board member, I will put the interests of students first, and strive to consider potential risks as well as rewards for policy decisions. I'm a strong believer in transparency, and would seek to keep parents and taxpayers well apprised of issues. I will be guided by three goals: Excellence, Equity and Efficiency:
* Excellence: Our highly ranked high school is a key reason many families, including ours, choose to live in this diverse and vibrant community. Whatever we do, we must maintain high standards and excellence for all students at ETHS.
* Equity: I strongly support efforts to provide all students with resources, support and opportunities to ensure that they achieve their full potential. I support peer-reviewed, research-supported, pragmatic approaches that help students succeed.
* Efficiency: As a taxpayer and parent of three, I will seek to find ways the district can operate more efficiently.


Educational philosophy. American education, and sometimes that in Evanston, is variously criticized as culturally biased in favor of dominant or privileged classes or groups and their culture, as too relativistic, as too coddling and mushy, as failing to prepare students for the 21st century economy, or as failing to teach basics, among others. What principal deficit(s) in American or Evanston education do you see, and what will you do as a local Board member to address this?

My overriding educational philosophy is that all decisions should be made in student-centric manner to serve, first and foremost, the best interest of students, followed by those who work directly with students (teachers and parents). We need to work harder to break down silos and create a unified strategy that serves students from pre-K to 12th grade. We need to benchmark our performance against state, national and international standards. We need to focus on goals, and avoid becoming emotionally attached to “bright shiny objects”  - ie, particular tactics to achieve goals. We need to instill  a culture of constant improvement based on what works.


Superintendent. If elected this April, during your tenure you will have one or more opportunities to fire, hire, or extend the contract of a superintendent. What specific criteria, if any, including any quantitative performance criteria, will you use in your decision?

The current board has done good work in setting out 2012-2015 goals for District 202. It's a critically important function of the board to hold the Superintendent accountable for making progress on those goals, and agreeing on how progress will be measured.


Expenditures. District 202's most recent posted total budget for all funds is over $72 million – which is over $23,000 per student. District median household income is less than $65,000. Is the current expenditure level necessary and sustainable?

At a time of budgetary challenges on the local, state and federal level, ETHS needs to be smarter than ever in how its resources are used. I'm concerned with the high level of taxes in Evanston, particularly since home values have declined significantly since 2008 while tax rates have continued to rise. I support zero-based budgeting: starting each budget at $0 and justifying every expense. I support seeking new ways to generate revenue other than property taxes. As a member of the District 65 Ad Hoc Budget Committee, I was proud to begin a dialogue to examine the potential benefits of a “virtual consolidation” between Districts 65 and 202. This could allow savings on functions such as IT and purchasing, while also providing more continuity for students as they move from D65 to D202. 


Tracking. State succinctly and specifically what ETHS should be doing the same, more of, or differently with respect to differentiated or mixed-level instruction, tracking, and the honors program, and why.

Every student deserves to be challenged in a positive and productive manner. When the "Earned Honors" model was introduced for freshmen in 2010, the Administration said in a Nov. 4., 2010, Q&A that the change would "increase the demand for honors and Advanced Placement classes." I agree with that goal. I am concerned that the goal seems to have changed. The "Popular Annual Financial Report" sent to taxpayers last fall, states on p. 12 that Freshman Humanities will serve as a template "throughout ETHS." To my knowledge, the Board has not voted to make Earned Honors a template throughout ETHS. I support carefully evaluating the Earned Honors model before deciding whether it should be expanded.


Cost Shifting. What should the district be doing to prepare for the possibility that some or all costs of pension financing will be shifted to suburban and downstate districts, as they are for Chicago schools?

District 202 should continue to vigorously lobby alongside other districts to prevent Springfield from adding to its financial burdens. Evanston property tax rates are high. We need to seek to avoid adding to the District's liabilities. At the same time, given the reality of our state's finances, District 202 and 65 need to think creatively for ways to cut costs, maintain financial flexibility and continue to offer a quality education regardless of decisions made in Springfield.