Mellody Gomez, 4 years: Candidate Profile
Round Lake Area Unit D116, 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.
City: Round Lake
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Round Lake Area Unit D116, 4-year term
Age: Candidate did not respond.
Family: Candidate did not respond
Occupation: : Teacher, 2nd Grade Bilingual
Education: Master Candidate in Education, Dominican University; B.A. Political Science, University of Illinois Chicago, 2004
Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
There are two key campaign issues that go hand in hand: 1) continue to be fiscally responsible, and 2) meet and exceed state standards with respect to AYP (Annual Yearly Progress). It is imperative that the school district be financially responsible and makes sound decisions so that students' needs are met academically. Without money, the district will not be able to provide an equitable education to students. Thus, there needs to be monies available to purchase new/updated materials for the curriculum (i.e., reading/math books, and technological products for the classroom) and provide teachers with professional development opportunities to learn, implement, and maintain the best teaching practice strategies within the classroom.
Key Issue 2
Another campaign issue is community involvement. Our children's academic success involves parents, teachers, and the community. From an academic standpoint, success begins with being able to read. According to the AYP scores for the last two years, students have not been meeting state standards in reading district wide. Parents, teachers, and the community should work together to assist struggling readers especially at the primary grade levels.
Key Issue 3
Candidate did not respond
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?
It is not suffice to say that students are being adequately prepared. One only needs to take a look at the school district's AYP scores (reading/math), especially in reading beginning from third grade since that is when students begin taking the ISAT. However, students begin struggling with reading as early as even first grade. These struggling readers are not reading at grade level and require additional help with reading. The early elementary years are crucial for students when it comes to reading and thus, academic success is tied to reading.
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?
Since the district depends on state funding, the lack of it will be a continuous issue until the state balances its budget. However, if cuts are needed a 20% reduction in administrative positions should be made. The average salary for a full-time administrator in the district is $100,000. I have never been at a school as a student, teacher, or taxpayer that could not function with a reduction of administrators.
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.
As a teacher I not only teach students, but also advocate on their behalf for services needed. Many times teachers are students' only advocate—the voice children do not have to speak. I have lived in the Round Lake area for 32 years. As a high school student I did not have the educational opportunities that districts nearby offered their students due to the fact that Dist. 116 was cutting programs. Fifteen years later, District 116 schools do not meet state standards. My classroom experience will provide the board with sound academic decisions so that the right decisions are made in preparation for their future.
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?
The board's priority should remain in alignment with being fiscally responsible. During the time that contracts are discussed there is a negotiating process that takes place. It would be premature to know what posture the board would take.
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?
In 2007, former Governor Rod Blagojevich signed legislation reducing and capping retirement pay for the last 4 years of one's employment from 20% to 6%. Therefore, if payment is to be increased beyond the 6% cap the financial burden will be on the district's shoulder to pay out, which in turn will come from the tax payer's pocket.
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