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.
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: West Chicago Elementary D33
Family: Married to wife, Deb; Two boys, Quin (23) and Ben (20).
Occupation: Retired, formerly computer systems design and product management with AT&T Bell Laboratories
Education: M.S. Computer Science, University of Wisconsin, 1977
B.A. Mathematics, Lawrence University, 1974
Post Graduate work in Business, Illinois Institute of Technology, 1994-1998
Executive Development Program, Wharton Business School, 1999
Civic involvement: Currently serving my second term on the board of education for West Chicago elementary School and serving as a hospital volunteer and volunteer trainer for Open Heart Magic.
Previously president of West Chicago Hockey Club, boys baseball and soccer coach, boy scout leader
Elected offices held: West Chicago Park District 1993
West Chicago Elementary District Board of Education 2002-present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
Financial responsibility is my top issue. Because of state budget problems, school districts are faced with reduced state revenues and a great deal of financial uncertainty. During my 9 years on the school board our district has had balanced budgets. Our district has consistently earned top scores for sound fiscal policies. My background in business has enabled me to support the board and the district in financial matters and is one of my strengths. In the next few years it is imperative that we carefully manage our resources to provide the best possible education for our students while operating within our means.
Key Issue 2
Our overarching goal must be to improve academic achievement. Our students' test scores have improved, but not nearly enough. We need to make better use of data to determine what methods work best; we need more parental involvement; we need better communication between teachers and parents; and we need to find ways to better engage students in their education. Everyone in our district -- the teachers, the administrators, and the board -- should be evaluated and rewarded based on student achievement.
Key Issue 3
In addition to focusing on the academic core subjects, we need to prepare students for the 21st century. Our students need to learn how to use technology wisely and safely. They need to be multi-lingual. We need to address social interactions, time management, personal fitness, internet behavior, and critical thinking. Our students need to be prepared to not only succeed but excel in a challenging, fast-moving, competitive society.
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'm not satisfied. We need to do better.
We are doing a better job collaborating with the high school than we have done in the past, but we should do more. Our curricula can be better aligned. We need to work with the high school to get specific feedback on how we can better prepare our students. As part of our assessment system for our administrators, teachers and staff, we should measure how well-prepared the student is to succeed in high school. We need to track how our students perform in high school and beyond and then use this data to improve the education they get in elementary school
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?
We have seen reductions in state funding for the past two years. I believe we will have further reductions over the next 2-3 years. We need to look first at ways to cut expenses which do not impact students directly. For example, we can collaborate more with our neighboring districts to pool purchasing power, share training expenses, and perhaps share personnel. We need to work with our suppliers to reduce our costs. For example, we can reduce transportation costs if we work with our school bus company to provide more efficient routes. We already share transporation services with the high school.
Despite these efforts, there have been some reductions which affect the quality of education. Our state funding for preschool has been cut by over $1M. Consequently we have greatly reduced our preschool program. We have also reduced support for our libraries and our gifted programs. We need to find ways do more with the dollars we have. It is not easy. We will need more parental involvement and better two-way communication
West Chicago has demonstrated strong support for education. The community approved a tax increase in 2003 and just passed a referendum to build an extension to the middle school. However, our property value per student is very low which causes us to have one of the highest educational tax rates in the county. I will not support any additional property tax increases during my term in office. I do support changing Illinois school funding to rely less on property taxes to fund education.
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.
I do not have a teaching background or any union affiliation.
I believe that in order to effect meaningful improvements to our educational system, our board, our administration and our teachers need to work as a team. Teaching experience and expertise is a required component. Change means doing things differently, however. So we can not use past practices as a benchmark for the future.
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?
Our district asked for concessions from all three of our unions last year in the middle of their contracts, and we negotiated some concessions with two of the three unions.
We will be asking for concessions from all of our unions in the upcoming contracts. Given the financial condition of the state of Illinois, there is really no alternative.
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?
Salaries must be based on performance. Conceptually, I do not support increasing salaries in order to increase pension benefits. In practice we still have some higher raises in the final years of an employee's career. They are much less now than in the past and we need some further work on this. State pension reform would help in this area.
We negotiated concessions from our Superintendent's contract last year. He has offered additional financial concessions to the district this year, even though our administrative pay is amongst the lowest in the county. I applaud our superintendent for his leadership in this area.