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: Carol Stream
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: West Chicago High School District 94 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married 22 years to Michael Lauf Children - Samantha 20 Kevin 17 Dog - Brownie
Occupation: Supported Living Assistant for Clearbrook, Arlington Heights, IL
Education: BA - Computer Operations/Business Management DePaul University, 2001
Civic involvement: Evergreen School, West Chicago, Girl Scout Troop Leader - 4 years Troop 175 Benjamin Dist. 25 Cub Scout Leader and Board Member 4 years. Corpus Christi Church, Carol Stream, RE Instructor 6 years. WEGO Lacrosse Club Board Member 3 years.
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
Technology : Due to the introduction of Common Core Standards, it is my understanding that the testing will be performed more than once a year utilizing local school computers. An increase in funding for this additional load to our already stressed network might be necessary. Additionally, students would benefit greatly by adding a graduation requirement of computer skills or computer applications. Although these skills are introduced at the elementary school level, it is necessary for ALL high school students to have a grasp of Windows and Office applications. Staff training is vital to ensure understanding too, as software applications are often upgraded. The teachers and support staff are often left behind. How do we expect them to help the students when they haven't been properly trained?
Key Issue 2
Administrative Costs: Negotiations between teachers, support staff and the board make headlines daily. It seems as if District 94 asks for concessions from the staff, but administrators aren't perceived as being included. If the district asks for concessions from its employees, it should ask it from ALL employees. The Board needs to take a close look at Administrative staffing and costs. The combination of talented and motivated staff, along with positive partnerships with our parents and community will provide a high-quality educational program to serve tomorrow's leaders who are in our classrooms today.
Key Issue 3
Communication: The district often falls short in its communication with local taxpayers, parents of students in the district, between feeder districts, with teacher, administration and support staff, between departments. This is a serious concern that needs to be tackled. Local papers cover only the problems like stalled contract negotiations, our decision to leave the Du Page Valley Conference and move to first one then another conference, or our administrative costs being some of the highest in the county. This news need to be communicated in a more inclusive manner to all constituents directly from the district in a timely and accurate manner.
What do you think about the shift to the common core standards? How big a role do you think the board of education should play in setting the curriculum for students and what ideas do you have for changes to the current curriculum?
Illinois is one of 45 states to adopt the common core standards which outline skills and content our students must master at each grade level to ensure they are ready for college and careers in the 21st century. These standards are higher than the Illinois Learning Standards and focus on better preparing our students for the future. It is the hope that students who might need extra help would be identified sooner, and that schools can provide them with the extra supports needed to succeed. The role of the board will be to become educated on these changes and provide support to administrators and teachers. I believe our talented education professionals should best set curriculum and suggest changes to best meet this need. The board's role involves final budgetary review and approvals with a keen eye on finding funds to prepare our students for their future, not our history. Communication between teachers, administration, parents, students and the board is critical to success.
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?
The Boards of Education for each of the three District 94 feeder districts works hard to ensure students are prepared for the next stages in their education and life. In recent years, I have witnessed improved communication and collaboration between the districts, but public perception remains drastically different. It is critical that high school educators, parents and students work as a team to prepare for that next step. Students who may not be college bound appear to be left to fend for themselves. I would ask the counselors to have a mandatoryjobs? day at school or at the College of Du Page during which students could meet local employers and explore careers, incorporate job shadowing experience as part of a life skills/study skills curriculum and reach further into the community to assist students and graduates in finding meaningful employment opportunities, trade school opportunities and internship experiences. The working world has changed. If you don't continue your education beyond high school; you?re going to have to work harder to succeed. We need to do all we can to assist all students in reaching for their dreams following graduation---whether they include college and graduate school, trade school, entrepreneurship or entering the workforce.
What budget issues will your district have to confront and what measures do you support to address them? If you believe cuts are necessary, what programs and expenses should be reduced or eliminated? On the income side, do you support any tax increases?
As a lifetime resident of Illinois and local taxpayer I believe all programs, salaries and expenditures should be reviewed prior to cuts. Closely monitoring the current and projected financial condition of the school district is critical, especially in tenuous economic times. We all need to work together to ensure the school is providing the best education with these limited funds. Lower property values = lower taxes this might be good for the taxpayer but not for the school districts who rely on these funds. Taxpayers hear school districts shouting for more, and they read in the paper about the mess involving pension funds. It is my opinion that a tax increase is not the answer. According to statistics involving multiple Du Page County school districts with budgets and student population comparable to ours, Community High School has the second lowest percentage spent on Education and the highest percentage spent on General Administration. In addition, Community High School has the lowest expenditure average per pupil, the lowest instructional expenditure per pupil, and some of the largest class sizes. The discrepancy in salaries and benefits for district administrators is alarming. Community High School's figures are much higher than these other comparable districts and I would hope that the board would see Administrative expenditures, class size and instructional expenditures as serious concerns that should be addressed.
As contract talks come up with various school employee groups, do you believe the district should ask for concessions from its employees, expect employee costs to stay about the same as they are now or provide increases in pay or benefits?
Negotiations between teachers, support staff and the board make headlines daily. It seems as if District 94 asks for concessions from the staff, but administrators aren't perceived as being included. If the district asks for concessions from its employees, it should ask it from ALL employees. The Board needs to take a close look at Administrative staffing and costs. The combination of talented and motivated staff, along with positive partnerships with our parents and community will provide a high-quality educational program to serve tomorrow's leaders who are in our classrooms today
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?
The practice of boosting pension benefits by the increase in salary is unfair but is a common practice followed by many public employees. The practice of providing pre-retirement salary bumps serves no purpose other than providing employees a more comfortable retirement. and deferring budgetary impact for the future. In addition to stressing the pension fund at the state level by having to pay out larger pensions than were intended, it also takes millions of dollars away from the classroom or other vital uses, and muddies a district's fund balance. For these reasons and more, the pre-retirement salary bumps simply must be addressed by the board and ended.