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: Bloomingdale Elementary D13
Family: Husband - Andre Burke son - Devin, age 16 son - Derek, age 14
Occupation: Software / Services Professional
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from Illinois Wesleyan University
Masters in Business Administration from University of Minnesota
Civic involvement: St. Walter's Parish
Elected offices held: Bloomingdale School District 13 Board of Education since 2003
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: no
Key Issue 1
Continuing to enhance the educational experience for all students in District 13.
Key Issue 2
Operating District 13 with fiscal prudence.
Key Issue 3
Maintaining an atmosphere of mutual respect and dialogue among all District 13 constituents.
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?
Improving the quality of education of our students is an ongoing process. We should never be satisfied with the current state and must continually look to provide enhanced means of instruction and enhanced learning challenges to meet the needs of children across the spectrum of ability levels.
As far as changes that need to be made, I see incorporating the use of technology in the classroom as an ongoing challenge to be addressed. Children of today learn differently than children of generations past, and advances in technology are providing more options for delivery of learning material than ever before. As educators, it is incumbent upon us to select the proper media and delivery means to reach our audience.
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?
School districts are faced with the challenge that, year over year, many operating expenses beyond our control increase at a rate that exceeds the tax cap, such as transportation and heating expenses. Therefore, looking for ways to save money and offset these growing expenses is a continual goal for District 13.
In District 13 over the last 12 years we have had a declining student population. The impact is that we have fewer children to serve within largely the same budget. As a result, we have taken the opportunity to gradually reduce our staff numbers (and associated salary expense) by not replacing positions vacated by retirements. We have also shifted teachers to meet our classroom needs. This has allowed us to maintain student services with fewer staff members and without increasing class size.
In part because of this prudent approach, District 13 has not suffered the same fiscal crisis that many area districts have. We will continue to examine our staff numbers, which constitute our single largest expense, while maintaining staffing levels that meet the needs of our students and are appropriate for a district our size.
The greater challenge for District 13 in the coming years will be reacting to student population growth as area housing trends begin to change. Student numbers could potentially grow at a rate that exceeds our ability to increase funding. Therefore, it is important that we maintain or grow a healthy fund balance in order to avoid the near-term likelihood of additional funding being required.
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 believe experience as a teacher or school administrator is a healthy component of any board of education. Experience working in a school system brings a detailed understanding of the operations and daily considerations that are not always obvious to outsiders. District 13 has benefited from a balanced membership that includes representation of prior educators and administrators, although I do not have that experience myself.
I am not aware that our union has endorsed any candidates in this race. However, I do not think that support from a union implies a pro-teacher bias. All board members need to be pro-teacher, but not at the expense of our obligations to tax-payers or students.
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?
District 13 came to agreement with our teachers' union in August 2010 for a 3-year contract. The negotiations were punctuated by give and take on both sides throughout the process. Ultimately, the settlement reached was fair to both the union and District 13.
Our national economy has undergone substantial changes in recent years. I believe that compensation and benefits for teachers should be reflective of comparable professional positions in the broader community and similar sized districts.
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?
Historically many teacher and administrator contracts have included salary enhancements in the years preceding retirement. At one time these increases served as an incentive to accelerate early retirement, allowing districts to hire replacements with less experience at substantially lower salary levels.
Given our current economic state and the financial condition of all state pension funds, I do not believe that pre-retirement salary increases are prudent.