Ryan P Farrell: Candidate Profile
Crystal Lake Elementary D47
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
City: Crystal Lake
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Crystal Lake Elementary D47
Family: Married to my wife, Amy, for 6 years. We have two sons, Brady (3 - will be 4 in March) and Luke (1 - will be 2 in March)
Occupation: Attorney at Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle in Crystal Lake.
Education: Juris Doctor, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, 2005
Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, University of Illinois, 2000
Certified Public Accountant, 2001
Civic involvement: Leadership Greater McHenry County, Director
Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors
Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Director
McHenry County Economic Development Corporation, Chairperson of Business Growth & Development Committee
Crystal Lake Rotary Dawnbreakers
Affiliates for the Raue
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: In 2001, when I was 22, I was arrested in Chicago for a disorderly conduct incident. The case was dismissed with no strings attached immediately at the first court appearance, as everyone agreed that it was a misunderstanding.
Key Issue 1
Providing a quality education to the children of District 47. First and foremost, every board member's duty should be to ensure that the administration is fostering a productive learning environment. District 47 has traditionally been known as a well-respected school system. As a former District 47 student, a taxpayer, homeowner, and most importantly, a parent, I want to do anything I can to see that continues. This, of course, has far-reaching benefits in terms of civic pride, property values, lower crime, and productive citizens.
Key Issue 2
Fiscal responsibility. While a quality education needs to be goal number one, I believe that can be done in a way that puts the least amount of strain on the taxpayers and uses the taxpayers' money as efficiently as possible. As someone who has never worked in the public sector and as a partner in a law firm with over forty employees, I understand that tough choices need to be made in order to keep costs down and appropriately allocate resources on a budget.
Key Issue 3
Technology. For a town the size and the level of affluence of Crystal Lake (as well as Lakewood and parts of Lake in the Hills), I believe that our schools are behind the curve in technology. Prior to my decision to run for the school board, I began to formulate plans to begin a 501(c)(3) foundation for the school district in order to fundraise for certain things that I felt were important to students, but which may be beyond what the school district itself should be putting entirely on the backs of the taxpayers, such as technology and the arts. I would like to work as a board member to ensure the foundation becomes a reality and to align the objectives of the two entities.
How satisfied are you that your district is preparing students for the next stage in their lives, whether it be from elementary into high school or high school into college or full-time employment? What changes, if any, do you think need to be made?
I believe the District is doing a highly competent job of preparing students for the next step; that is, to the high school level. Still, as with anything, I believe that improvements can be made. I believe that improved communication between teachers and administrators in District 47 and 155 could only help to reduce ineffeciencies in curriculum upon making that transition. Again, I further believe that technology can help to engage students and enhance the learning that is already occurring. If the students are engaged and interested, they will be more prepared for whatever lies ahead.
What budget issues will the district have to confront? What measures do you support to address them? If cuts are needed, be specific about programs and expenses that should be reduced or eliminated. Do you support any tax increases for local schools?
Pension reform for both teachers and administrators is the most effective way to alleviate the crisis the state now finds itself in. While some aspects of that cannot be changed at the district level, I believe that certain budget cuts could at least help to lessen the problem. Specifically, I would work to minimize the increases that are traditionally given to teachers and administrators in order to encourage retirement. More immediately, I would advocate some health insurance cuts (at the administrative level, where they are far more generous than what is offered to teachers) and more oversight and scrutiny as to what classes would qualify for any reimbursement or towards any increase in pay. In the current economy, I do not support any tax increase for the schools. I cannot accept that there are not other places to make cuts in order to support an improved overall educational environment.
Is experience as a teacher or support from a union valuable because it suggests educational insights or detrimental because it creates pro-teacher bias? Please clarify whether you have such experience or would accept union support.
On the whole, experience as a teacher is probably somewhat beneficial, but not if that is the sum total of your working experience. As with most things, it depends upon the individual and what that experience taught them. Certainly, I would think that as a teacher, you would have a unique insight as to where inefficiencies lie and where cuts could be made that it would have the least amount of negative impact on the students. The downside would be that if that was your only experience, you may come away with a sheltered view of the reality of fiscal responsibility. While I have no experience as a teacher, my wife has been a teacher in Algonquin for eleven years, providing me insight into what works and what doesn't, without the lack of appreciation that things like automatic pay increases, tenure and summer vacations are the norm. As for union support, I only believe that is a detriment if you feel it obligates you to support every position the union takes. I would certainly accept and appreciate union support, but I would caution the union to understand that my responsibility is to the students and the taxpayers first. I believe that, at least as individuals, most educational professionals would agree with that.
As contract talks come up with various employee groups, what posture should the board take? Do you believe the district should ask for concessions, expect employee costs to stay about the same as they are now or provide increases in pay or benefits?
I believe the answer to that should, to the extent possible, be based on the performance of the group or individuals involved and should depend on the financial reality that we find ourselves. While I would hope that we would be able to allow for modest, sensible increases, I would not be opposed to pay freezes if the current economic climate does not improve. I would support pay decreases on an individual basis if performance dictated that to be prudent, but would try to avoid decreases as a whole unless absolutely necessary.
If your district had a superintendent or other administrator nearing retirement, would you support a substantial increase in his or her pay to help boost pension benefits? Why or why not?
No. As stated earlier, I think that pension reform, including changing the law to allow for those pensions to be subject to state income tax, is paramount if the State of Illinois is going to rebound for its current state. I would not support a substantial boost in pay at the end of a term that would increase the already-enormous burden on taxpayers.
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