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updated: 2/23/2011 8:06 PM

Richard Conley: Candidate Profile

Warren Twp. H.S. D121

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  • Richard Conley, running for Warren Twp. H.S. D121

    Richard Conley, running for Warren Twp. H.S. D121




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: Gurnee


Office sought: Warren Twp. H.S. D121

Age: 46

Family: Wife, Detra


Education: Master of Human Resource Management, Keller Graduate School.

BS Education, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

High School, Warren Township High School, Gurnee.

Civic involvement: Warren Township Republican Organization, Precinct Committeeman, 1997-2007.

Volunteer Leader, Boy Scouts of America, 1996 --2000; positions included Den Leader, Webelos Den Leader, and Assistant Cub Master.

Eagle Scout, Troop 71, Wildwood, Illinois. My Eagle project involved service to the Special Education District of Lake County (SEDOL).

During 2004 I worked to help expose fundamental flaws in the financial accounting systems at Warren Township High School. An audit performed due to the findings confirmed miss-spending and theft of student money and tax dollars over the last 4 or more years prior to the audit.

I have attended various special meetings of District 56 and 121 Board Meetings, such as: Taxing, Busing, Safety, Referendum, etc.

Original member of the Gurnee Mayors education committee, 2004.

Member of the District 121 Facilities Committee, 2003.

Member of the District 121 Grading Policy Committee, 2003-2004.

Member of the District 56 Finance Committee, 2002-2003.

Twenty years of local political activity, including 10 years as Precinct Committeeman and volunteer or leader on multiple political/referendum campaigns.

Vice-Chairman of the Warren Township Republican Organization, 2003-2005.

Member of the Warren-Newport Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG), we are dedicated to monitoring tax issues and have fought many unnecessary tax increases locally. Our efforts have save the average taxpayer of Warren Township $700 annually.

Elected offices held:

Warren Township Republican Organization, Precinct Committeeman, 1997-2007. Currently Member of the Board of Education, Warren Township High School

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: Candidate did not respond.

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Candidate did not respond.

Key Issue 2

Candidate did not respond.

Key Issue 3

Candidate did not respond.

Questions & Answers

Would you be willing to pursue salary cuts or freezes when the next teachers union contract is negotiated? Explain your answer.

Absolutely. The Board and Administration have a responsibility to the taxpayers of this community and cannot be blind to the economy and job market in this area. When we see the pay and benefit freezes and cuts our community has had, and the job losses many have seen, we cannot continue to be overly generous.

The certified staff at Warren has had many years of salary increases of 2-3 times the private sectors, a 2-3 year freeze to the rate of inflation only is warranted. Unlike the private sector our certified staff has the opportunity for up to 3 raises in a given year, 2 are guaranteed. First there are step raises for each year of service, then there is the cost of living raise, these are guaranteed. Next there is an opportunity for a lane change should the person get more education. In the private sector typically employees in this area have been seeing 1-3% raises in a given year, D121 staff have averaged 4-6%, and some more; this is unsustainable and unfair to our taxpayers.

Benefits should be benchmarked within Lake County and modified as needed to save the taxpayers money. We should be fair, but not overly generous.

Should rebates on interest paid from Build America Bonds be used to pay down a $24 million loan for construction projects as intended? Explain your answer.

Yes, and I believe it is unethical not to pay down the debt as this was the intent of the program. I was against the $30 million dollar referendum request when put to the taxpayers as it was approximately $10 million more than our own consultant said we needed. After passage all I could do is try to watch how the money was spent, when the Build America Bond repayments weren't being made I questioned at board meetings and asked that we do so, the board majority of which I'm not part of will not at this time pay the money on the bonds. I have also in the interest of transparency to the public reported this issue to the Daily Herald as I can do more on the board as a single member.

Failure to repay the money as it comes in semi-annually from the federal government will cost the taxpayers an estimated $8 million over the life of the loan. The taxpayers assumed as they should the board took the best loan possible on their behalf, instead the board took a higher interest loan that they receive an offset on, and then the board is keeping the payment which cost the taxpayers dearly.

What are your ideas for the district's future in the way of campuses? For example, should there be one large complex for all students on land the district purchased off Stearns School Road northwest of Gurnee Mills?

The District should remain a 2 campus school as-is for the near and probably next 10-20 years until the North end of our District is developed. In the last 6 years the district has spent approbatory $45million on refurbishing and expanding our 2 current campuses, they should serve our students needs for the next 20-50 years. We are not seeing a population increase now and actually a decrease, only if a major development occurs would we need a 3rd school. At that time I believe we should work with the developer to donate land and work with them on having a separate high school just for their development. It could work out to be a win-win for all parties.

I do not support splitting our current schools into 2 4-year schools for multiple reasons.

1. The cost to "equalize" the schools would be many millions and it would cost a couple million more a year to run them. Our taxpayers cannot afford this and our budget does not have the money.

2. Splitting the schools would be very difficult to do fairly, from a socio-economic perspective we may cause issues with the Dept. of Education if we don't maintain our population split properly.

3. Sense of Community. A High School is very important to a community, splitting the school would be like splitting the community.

4. Fairness. Some students would go to a newer school and some to an older school. While I personally see both schools as very nice some would feel their children didn't get to go the "new" and "better" school at Almond even though they are paying for it, or have paid for it.

I would support splitting into 2 K-12 Districts, whereby Woodland and Gurnee Grade each become a K-12 and we eliminate District 121. I support this as I feel their could be a better continuity of Education and it could actually save the taxpayers money. I would only support however if we hold an advisory referendum and a majority of the voters support.

Should the district move forward with a plan to use part or all of its Stearns School Road land for athletic fields, possibly for the public at large, even though an estimated $1 million would be needed in roadwork for access to the property? Explain.

No. I support selling the property or leasing, any development may be throwing good money after bad. Additionally, there are many other taxing bodies currently providing fields or recreational areas, and we have just added more fields to Warren at Almond, and purchased the old Gowe Park which has more space. If there are specific needs for the High School I'm unaware of them as a board member. There are fields currently provided by Gurnee Park District and Warren Township that should meet the communities needs. We have no money to spend on fields at this time and I don't believe the taxpayers would or should support millions in expenses for the benefit of very few residents.

Districts 121 and 56 combined bus service to save money. What other similar mergers or partnerships should be pursued?

Bidding of contracts together such as Legal, Landscaping, Food and Janitorial.

Bidding of bus purchases as one group, and consider purchasing used buses (1-2 years old) instead of new buses.

Sharing resources such as our business office.

Sharing residency investigator.

Sharing curriculum directors, which I also believe would improve continuity of education.

Contact out building maintenance to one vendor for all 3 districts (56, 50 and 121).

All 3 Boards of Education in this community owe it to our taxpayers to run the schools as efficiently and financially responsible as possible. We need to work together on cutting costs and joining in contracts where it is possible.