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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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Office sought: Antioch Elementary D34, 2-year term
Family: Husband, Dave Son, Trent, 13, at AUGS Son, Spencer, 10, at W.C. Petty
Occupation: Web Marketing Manager for Medline Indusries
Education: B.A., English, Carleton College 1986
M.A., English, UIC, course work 1993
Civic involvement: Antioch District 34 Board of Education, 2006-present
Antioch School District PR Committee and Referendum Committee, 205-2006
Elected offices held: Antioch School District 34 Board of Education, President, 2009--present; Vice President, 2008-2009
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Our district has been financially solvent and I commend past Boards and admin for ensuring us this position. As funds from the state remain unreliable, my number one campaign issue is very practical: to ensure that our district is prudent with funds and does not ask for more than it needs, nor does it extend beyond its means, while providing a top notch education for all students within the district.
Key Issue 2
21st Century Learning for all of District 34 students. This means looking at how to make the tools available, and use them (computer, iPhone, iPad, Facebook, Edmodo, email, Power School and more...) in professional and socially responsible ways. To ensure that students are empowered to use the tools that engage them and that they'll be expected to know when they go to high school, to college, to vocational school and beyond. To ensure that all members of the district community--students, staff, parents--keep in touch with what's going on in the classroom through online tools that they have become accustomed to as well, such as email, automated phone updates, the web site, etc.
Key Issue 3
Communication. The current Board has worked hard to ensure there is transparency and visibility at all levels. Open communication engenders trust and respect, a cornerstone for education. And, it's the ""head fake"" for the kids: they learn it because they see it happen daily.
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?
We are on the right track. An assessment made a few months ago identified that we need to not only look at the percentage of kids who are ""meeting"" NCLB standards,but also identify those kids on the brink of ""exceeding"" standards, and how we can help them reach their potential. This group is oftentimes overlooked because they are not branded ""at risk"" yet we are just as responsible for ensuring they reach their full potential as we are of helping those students who have fallen below standards who are identified and brought up to standards.
The next stage for our children is high school and we are the largest feeder district to Antioch High School and Lakes Community High School. We are identifying where the district can do a better job in preparing the teens, and also ensuring that some of the programs at D34 are continued, such as the strings program which is having its first graduates enter high school.
Communication and collaboration extend beyond the boundaries of the district. We want to instill a sense of pride in those who graduate from AUGS and a confidence that they are well prepared for what's next.
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?
The largest budget issue we face is infrastructure. Today, District 34 has an aging building (Antioch Elementary) that is costing more and more each year to maintain. In addition, we have 17 trailers that are used as classrooms every day. At this moment we have enough students to fill another school. The safety issues, the strain on the main building as the number of students rises, have been tugging at us persistently for almost a decade. At some point we will need to look at building a new school, and as a Board we need to look at the most prudent way to do so. As most everyone in the district has had to cut back during this economic time, we too must demonstrate that we are making sound financial judgements.
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.
There is a balance. As a member of a Board with both a retired teacher, a professional educator, and a union representative for a completely different industry, I find the insight well balanced. As a Board we are open and honest with each other and ask each other frank questions before coming to any decision. Each of us knows that we represent the community, not one special interest group.
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 strongest benefit, and our largest expense, is our people. It is important to remain competitive with other comparable districts, and to reward performing admin, staff and teachers. I'm not a strong believer in sweeping raises but in identifying and rewarding goals met. We need to ensure that we are no longer seen as a training district and sit back while very talented admin, staff and teachers leave for other higher-paying districts. We also recognize that most teachers do not enter education for the money. They want to make a difference with kids. We need to provide an atmosphere and resources that help teachers accomplish that, and that they are fiscally able to do so.
I'm more interested in a collaborative rather than a stand-off type of negotiation with teachers or any group. I believe we can work together and that our interests are not mutually exclusive, but in fact, mutually inclusive. This is one of the reasons why the current Board has become more transparent with finances. We do not want to hide anything, and we're also not interested in rewarding underperformance. A sound district attracts and retains top talent and we are well positioned for that.
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. It's suggesting that their pay was not commensurate with their performance or role while they were doing it. It's not fiscally responsible to the community and leaves them paying a bill for someone who is no longer on the pay roll. It reeks of good ole boy network.