Willie L. Rhodes: Candidate Profile
Keeneyville Elementary D20
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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: Hanover Park
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Keeneyville Elementary D20
Family: Married, two children.
Occupation: Retired Accountant
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, Prairie View A & M University, 1972. Minors in Accounting & Economics.
Civic involvement: AIMS (Adults Involved In Mentoring Students)
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Utilize my experiences to provide creative possibilities to ensure a balance budget in the Education fund and a fiscally sound school district.
Key Issue 2
Assist and support the guidance of the district toward the preparation of our children to meet the challenges of achieving and living in a global community.
Key Issue 3
Be an advocate for the education of all our children, especially those with special needs, which create unique challenges.
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 satisfied with the preparation of our district in preparing the students for the next stages of their lives. We have not arrived yet, but we see ourselves as a work in progress. I am encouraged when I enter the schools as a volunteer participating in the mentoring program. I see the students embracing their global community whether it is cultural, ethnic, and socio-economical or individuals with special needs. I see them being prepared to live successfully in a diverse society. This close-knit community of caring helps every child become a person of character and integrity. In addition, maintaining consistency in dealing with the challenge of adopting rigorous academic standards to stretch our students' imaginations and intelligence prepares them for lifelong learning.
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 budget issues that the district has to confront are due to the State of Illinois inability to consistently and properly fulfill their established and obligated funding commitment to the schools. Until the State of Illnois is able to support an increase in local taxes and get their house in order, we need to acknowledge and figure out new and creative possibilities to access all available funding from public and private sources. I feel the current school district administration has addressed the budget issues according to the resources they were provided. I believe educaton is a lasting investment and the foundation of the future and we all have a responsibility to all our children, so as one who is retired and lives on a fixed income. I choose to sacrifice and support any tax increases for local schools.
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 all experience is valuable; the diversity of experiences within the district should be drawn upon to establish a working community to overcome all potential obstacles which stands in the way of the district becoming a premier school district, one that benefits all students, our community, and local economy. I feel the district should seek individuals who have a passion and empathy to serve and the flexibility to utilize their time and resources to enter the trenches with the teachers. In addition, I feel my professional knowledge and experience in business and finance, along with twelve years of experience as the district's accountant will be an asset to the district as we navigate through the State of Illinois' financial challenges. Also, for the last four years I have sought the opportunity to encourage and partner with the teachers by mentoring students performing below their potential.
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 should attempt to create an environment for honest discussion and debate in the contract talks, which is non-adversarial. Take a collaborative approach and seek to design mutually agreeable options and compromises that would be good for all parties. I believe as a last resort the district should ask for concessions. However, it is unrealistic to expect employee costs to remain the same as it is now. While I believe that employees ought to receive a good salary, I also believe that they must recognize, and share in the tough choices we all have to make as result of these times of high unemployment. I would support increases in pay or benefits only if it would not jeopardize the district's balance budget financial requirement.
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?
These leaders oversee and maintain perhaps the most critical infrastructure in our society, our knowledge base. They also, have extraordinary pressure and scrutiny applied to their performance. These salaries are very good, but I don't think they are out of line. I support paying what will attract and retain top people, but I am not in agreement with substantial increases to help boost pension benefits, because these dollars does not directly support the education of our children.
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