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updated: 2/24/2011 1:40 PM

Erica Nelson: Candidate Profile

Glen Ellyn Elementary D41

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  • Erica Nelson, running for Glen Ellyn Elementary D41

      Erica Nelson, running for Glen Ellyn Elementary D41

 

 

 

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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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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Wheaton

Website: None

Office sought: Glen Ellyn Elementary D41

Age: 51

Family: My husband, Barry; daughter, Corinne, senior at Glenbard West High School; son, Carl, 7th grader at Hadley Junior High School

Occupation: Adjunct Faculty, Lake Forest Graduate School of Management- Corporate Education; owner, Nelson Performance Development, LLC a professional development organization. Current clients include Rust-Oleum Corporation, The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), The Disney Institute, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

Education: BA, Journalism/English University of Massachusetts 1981

MA, Higher Education Administration, University of Connecticut 1985

Civic involvement:

• St Michael Catholic Church, Wheaton IL:

-Volunteer Adult minister for High School Youth Group 1987-present

-Religious Education Teacher grades 2-8 - 1999-present

-President, Parish Council 1998-1999

• Glen Ellyn District 41:

-Board of Education member/Board Secretary 2007-2011

-Member/Chair, Policy Committee 2007-2011

-Legislation Chair, Churchill Elementary School 3 years

-Co-Chair Community Outreach Committee for PTA Council - 5 years

-PTA projects volunteer at Hadley Junior High School

•Member, Glen Ellyn Children's Resource Center

•District 87 CARES member and contributor to CARES newsletter

• Certified Mediator Cook County Court System -- 17 years volunteer mediator

in Markham District Court, Maywood District Court and Rolling Meadows District Court

Elected offices held: Glen Ellyn District 41 Board of Education

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

Present a final recommendation to the community for a short and long-term Master Facility Plan to address current and future educational (21st Century Learning) and environmental needs. Present a plan to replace the 32 mobile classrooms with permanent student classroom facilities at each of our 5 schools.

Key Issue 2

Continue effective fiscal management through the application of the District's Long Range Plan, especially as Illinois legislators work to address the state's fiscal crisis including complete payments that are overdue to schools across the state. Continually evaluate our educational and operational needs to identify cost savings while maintaining the excellence of our District faculty, and staff and student performance.

Key Issue 3

Communication with all community members in our District to engage a larger audience to learn about District 41 educational programs and services, facilities, faculty, staff and students and how they can be involved in District 41 as stakeholders in the community.

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?

I am highly satisfied. Having served on the District 41 Board of Education for the past four years, I have witnessed and been involved with various initiatives focused on 21st Century Learning and the educational programs of the future. In 2008, a Vision Project that engaged more that 75 community members, school parents, faculty, staff and board members over three separate meetings asked: "What are the trends in education and society at large that we need to be aware of? What skills will tomorrow's employers be looking for? What can we do today to best prepare our students for the future?"

Participants agreed that the skills our students need to learn today are vastly different that what was needed 20 years ago. Which also means that facilities, instructional tools and technology need to change to maintain this movement toward higher-level skills.

The document and ideas generated were included in School Improvement Plans (SIP) and set the table for the Master Facility Planning Committee convened in 2009.

Finally, the Professional Development Team in the District develops specific learning and development opportunities for faculty and staff that focus on technology usage (i.e. SmartBoards), our changing student population and language needs, our gifted students and opportunities for higher level learners and a continuous improvement view of curriculum that aligns with skills needed to succeed in the future.

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 BOE has been highly engaged in the budget and budget planning for the past four years. The Finance Committee of the Board is a partner with the Asst. Superintendent for Finance and Facilities and meets bi-weekly with the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent and Business Manager to review capital projects, monthly budget updates and expenses and revenue projections.

FY 2009/2010 the District reduced the budget by 2.9 million dollars to prepare for the drop in CPI to 0.10% and the domino effect that this decrease would have on budgets out to 2015. Current CPI for 2011/2012 is 2.7% and after that projecting 2.5% - but that can change as we experienced in 2009/2010. Fiscal restraint and planning has kept District 41 in an enviable position compared with school districts across DuPage and other local counties.

Reductions were made that did not impact the classroom or direct instruction. The Capital Projects long-term plan allowed for some reductions in projects and for others to be spaced out over one-two years. Superintendent Riebock places a high priority on managing the budget in advance of a crisis and has served the district well with solid fiscal oversight.

The BOE needs to continue to oversee budget planning and be fiscally conservative as we manage classroom size and are vigilant about maintaining our high level academic programs and the services required by law.

Because of our focus on strong fiscal management, a tax increase is not necessary at this time. The District manages expenses and costs within budgeted dollars and that has served the community, parents and students well as we are a high performing academic district and recognized leader in our business operations and budgeting.

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 an am Adjunct Faculty member at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in their Corporate Education Division. Business development and needs analysis translate into curriculum development and teaching for corporate clients. When I'm in front of participants in a course, I appreciate the focus and energy it takes to engage, interpret material, develop practical applications, create interest and energy for the learning and offer reinforcement upon return to their business.

Yes, I have an appreciation for the expertise it takes to educate and no, it does not create pro-teacher bias in my experience. It provides greater appreciation for the work of educators and also higher expectations. I know what I expect of myself when I prepare program delivery and I expect that faculty in each of the District's five schools enter their classroom or PE area or media center and ask themselves everyday, "What can I do to improve over yesterday?"

I don't believe that teacher's unions should endorse a board of education candidate. It's up to individual teachers who may live in our district to vote their personal preference.

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 "posture" that District 41 is taking is ahead of the curve as we look at negotiating for a 2012 contract. For the past few months, District 41's administrative team, Glen Ellyn Education Association (GEEA) teachers union representatives, teachers from across our five schools and board of education members have met to discuss common interests, areas of concern, hopes for the future of the district and how we work collaboratively to achieve the goals of all partners.

This proactive posture is what's needed to ultimately negotiate a contract and agreement that will bring consensus between all parties. There is a reality check with the difficult economy and local strain on families. All parties are taking into account the headlines and comments from the community related to wages and benefits. As we have started early to discuss these issues, we are in a better place to have the challenging conversations that will create the basis for our next contract.

Negotiations that are interest-based means that concessions are made by all parties. I assume this will be the case in District 41 along with the discussion of salary increases as well.

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?

A contract with administrators or superintendent expects a high level of productivity to the end of that professional's tenure with the District. District 41 includes a performance-based increase based on the specific goals aligned with the long-range plan and metrics that measure the outcomes to plan. If that administrator achieves those stated goals and the measures support that, their annual increase will reflect that level of production.

Providing pay increases to solely increase pension benefits is a policy that is not sustainable. Senior leaders are expected to set the tone for their buildings and for the District staff in general. It is important to reward highly effective administrators who lead a complex organization.

District 41 is viewed within education as a highly creative District with high standards that expects strong leadership and will reward senior leaders appropriately for their contributions. We want to attract the best and brightest at the senior level as well as our classroom teachers and staff. Compensation must be fair and reasonable based on budget constraints and realities year to year.

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