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updated: 3/1/2011 11:02 PM

Christine Jones, 4 years: Candidate Profile

Millburn Elementary D24

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  • Christine Jones, running for Millburn Elementary D24, 4-year term

      Christine Jones, running for Millburn Elementary D24, 4-year term

 

 

 

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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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Lindenhurst

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Millburn Elementary D24, 4-year term

Age: 43

Family: Married, two children

Occupation: Executive Assistant

Education: Associate in Arts, focus in Education, College of Lake County 2007

Civic involvement: Lakes Eagles Boosters, Millburn PTO, PM&L Theatre

Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

It is vitally important to our children and the school district to have elected officials that will strive to maintain the quality of education at Millburn. It is essential to keep the academic program standards and the student performance expectations high. However, it is also important to provide our students with a well-rounded education that includes non-mandated programs such as music, band, art, technology, athletics and gifted programs. Research studies show that children who are given the opportunity to participate in well-rounded education programs are better prepared for the challenges they will face in the future. As a Board Member, I will be committed to maintaining the quality of our existing, well-rounded education program at Millburn.

Key Issue 2

As a district faced with a serious budget deficit, it is crucial to the school district to have elected officials that will strive to reduce wasteful spending and focus on fiscal responsibility. After the voters' negative response to the referendum last fall, our school board and the administration are currently faced with the challenge of cutting the budget to save our school from being taken over by the State. Since last June, our current school board and administration have been working hard to make cuts to the budget in an attempt to reduce our debt. As a Board Member, I will work hard to continue to come up with creative alternatives and identify areas where we can reduce wasteful spending and potentially eliminate our debt.

Key Issue 3

Communication with the parents as well as the district tax payers is vital to resolving the problems faced by the district. Effective communication involves two essential elements; communicating AND listening. Our tax payers as well as the parents of the school district have a vested interest in maintaining the quality of Millburn schools. Attending the town hall meetings conducted by the school district prior to the referendum, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of participation by parents and voters in the district. I was also impressed with many of the comments and questions posed by the community. Voters in our district want to be kept informed on district issues and also be given the opportunity to be heard. As a Board Member, I will challenge our board and administration to find ways to keep the lines of communication open so our district's parents and tax payers are not only kept informed but also given equal opportunities to be heard.

Questions & Answers

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 am very satisfied with our district's efforts to prepare students for the next stage in their lives. Our district schools work hard to prepare students for the future and that shows in the results of the district's report card. The winning combination of a strong teaching staff, supportive parents and a variety of non-mandated programs help foster well-rounded students who are better prepared for the challenges they will face tomorrow. As the parent of a Millburn Alum, currently a Freshman at Lakes, I saw first-hand how much better prepared my daughter was when she made the transition to Lakes. I have even heard teachers at Lakes comment positively about the students who come from Millburn. I've heard them say our kids tend to be more academically focused and come to school ready to learn. As the mother of a 4th grader currently at Millburn, I want to insure the quality of my younger daughter's education remains at the same high standard as her sister experienced. Change to some of the non-mandidated programs will result from the board and administration attempting to correct the budget. My hope is that changes be minimized and creative options will be offered to parents and students so they may continue to pursue these non-mandidated programs.

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?

It is well known that Millburn has a significant budget deficit and is dangerously close to being on the state watch list for potential take-over unless we come up with solutions that quickly reduces debt. Most of the decisions on the budget cuts will be addressed and put in place prior to this board election. The board members elected in April will assume the responsibility of continuing to find ways to stabilize the budget and simultaneously monitor the cuts that are put into place to be sure they are not adversely affecting the quality of education for our students at Millburn. With the reduction in teaching staff, consolidation of band and athletic programs, increases in fees and the lower number of students enrolling at Millburn, I would not be supportive of a tax increase at this time and certainly not until the economy as a whole turns around.

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.

Experience as a teacher is much more valuable to our school district and its students. Our teachers do not currently belong to a union and operate under school code. Unions in general create pro-member bias as it is in the best interest of the union to protect its members. Unions can be viewed as detrimental particularly when seniority wins out over performance. I believe our district has operated for so many years without union representation and do not see any reason to support the idea of our teachers developing a union.

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?

It is difficult to speak to a contract talks without all the facts. I think with all the budget problems the district is currently facing, it would be fiscally irresponsible to consider increases in pay or benefits. In this current economy, many companies are not giving salary increases and with the increase costs in healthcare, are reducing benefits provided and or raising premiums and co-pays to defray their increase in costs. As a district, we need to face the fact that we have a very limited budget and need to learn to live within our means.

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?

Awarding a substantial increase to anyone's salary to help boost pension benefits is abusing the system and I would not support that idea if proposed. A large majority of debt in the State of Illinois is due to inflated pension benefits. As a state, we need to plug the proverbial "hole in the boat" and give serious consideration to pension reform in general.

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