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updated: 2/23/2011 4:11 PM

John W. Haffner: Candidate Profile

West Chicago Elementary D33

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  • John W. Haffner, running for West Chicago Elementary D33

    John W. Haffner, running for West Chicago Elementary D33




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



City: West Chicago

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: West Chicago Elementary D33

Age: 50

Family: married-19 years two children-both attend Gary school

Occupation: Futures and Options Broker

Education: B.B.A. Marketing 1983 Ole Miss

M.B.A. Finance 1984 Ole Miss

Civic involvement: Member of Citizens Advisory Committee, District 33

Member of Referendum Steering Committee, District 33

Participated in District 33 Strategic Planning Session, Jan. 21-22, 2011.

Elected offices held: None

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Making sure the district continues to be fiscally responsible in uncertain economic times.

Key Issue 2

Making sure the district strives to offer the best possible educational experience to the student with the funds available.

Key Issue 3

To encourage an increase in the use of technology for students' usage i.e. ipads, laptops,and online modules not unlike businesses use for professional development.

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?

My opinion of a well-prepared student is one who:

1. Reads at a high level-reading opens up every career.

2. Is Bilingual-being bilingual is a huge advantage in the 21st century.

3. Is very computer literate- I think we can do better in this area as mentioned earlier.

I think District 33 does a great job of emphasizing reading and being bilingual. I think we need to put more emphasis on computer literacy, especially in the younger grades.

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?

1. Uncertain funding from the State of Illinois- will they pay their bills and will the State change the way schools are funded in the future?

2. Local property values stagnating or dropping will limit property tax revenue coming into the school district.

If cuts are needed to balance the budget, then I would support a combination of cuts and drawing down of reserves as was done this past fiscal year. Reserves would have to be kept above a certain level to meet cash flow needs and retain a favorable bond rating. Reserves, ideally, should be built up in good economic times so that you have a cushion in bad economic times.

Specific programs and expenses to be cut would be prioritized by the Board and administration as needed. As an example, last year, to my knowledge, no programs were completely eliminated but many were drastically cut back.

I would not support a tax increase at this time because we have just passed a referendum for a Middle School addition without a tax rate increase.

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.

Since I have neither experience as a teacher nor experience in collective bargaining at this level I can't say at this point if it would be valuable or not. What I hope to accomplish as a board member, and I hope this is not too idealistic, is to encourage and implore all of the adults involved in the negotiating process to put their own self-interests aside, and make decisions based on what is best for the children in the long run. If that goal remains the top priority, then we have all done our jobs correctly.

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 think that until the district is more sure of how and when it will receive State funding (the State owes district 33 almost $3 million)and then actually receives the funding, only then can the board think about increases in pay or benefits for employees. Right now, I believe the district should ask for concessions. I think that if the district had more flexibility in controlling its major expense (salaries and benefits make up 76% of the total budget) the district could better provide the programming and overall educational experience that everyone wants for their children. The unions need to be willing to be flexible in these uncertain economic times.

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?

I think great employees should be rewarded for great work when it is fiscally possible to do so. I do not think it is wise to artificially increase pay when teachers and programs are being cut and districts as a whole are trying to be transparent. Other municipalities have made headlines recently, and have gotten highly criticized over this scenario of substantially increasing pay to boost pension benefits at the end of a career. That is a situation that I, as a potential board member, would prefer to avoid.