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updated: 2/22/2013 6:38 PM

Rich Nagel: Candidate Profile

West Chicago High School District 94 School Board (4-year Terms) (Independent)

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  • Rich Nagel, running for West Chicago High School District 94 School Board (4-year Terms)

    Rich Nagel, running for West Chicago High School District 94 School Board (4-year Terms)




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: West Chicago

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: West Chicago High School District 94 School Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 62

Family: Married, three grown children

Occupation: Engineer

Education: BSEE, BSEM University of Illinois C-U, Graduate study in Management and Organizational Behavior at Benedictine University

Civic involvement: District 33 Foundation for Educational Excellence, Foundation for Fire and Life Safety, Gallery Theater

Elected offices held: District 94 School Board

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Being currently in the process of hiring a new superintendent to replace our retiring superintendent, the most pressing short term task for the board is to acclimate the new board and superintendent into a highly functional team that can continue to move forward. The board needs to convey its vision and expectations to the new superintendent and provide the resources and guidance for the new superintendent's success, leading to the district's success. My past experience as a board member and with previous superintendent transitions will be helpful in the coming transition.

Key Issue 2

We have been talking as a board for years about improving our students' achievement. The board needs to define what we are looking for and put into place the specific expectations, resources and programs to be able to assess, modify and reassess. My analytical skills and out of the box thinking will help "challenge" the way this process may proceed.

Key Issue 3

The climate within the school needs to be improved. I'm not talking about adjustments to the HVAC system, but to the working environment and moral of staff. I bring some continuity and history to the situation and hope to be able to help make a positive impact on board-administration-staff relations.

Questions & Answers

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?

I'm worried that the new standards are being implemented prior to the asessments being available. The potential for improvements and benefits may be there, but no additional funding is available to provide the necessary staff training or instructional materials that may be needed to fulfill the intent and objectives of the program. The board should not be setting the curriculum, but hearing from the experts in the field, our staff, about what they recommend and why. We should ask what the benefits will be and how they will be monitored, then what adjustments need to be made if we are off target. It is our role to allocate the limited resources in the best way while constantly evaluating the outcomes.

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?

One can never be satisfied with the job we do because there is always room for improvement. Besides that, the target is always moving, becoming harder to predict. The expectations and skills that colleges and employers will have in four years from now for our freshmen class are different than those for this year's graduating class. If I could change anything, I would want the students and their parents to take more ownership of their years of high school and be more demanding of us (board, administration and staff) rather than having the students feel that we are demanding of them (homework, test scores, grades, graduation).

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?

Fortunately, our budget issues should continue to be maintaining a balanced budget with conservative and responsible management. There are always potential surprises around the corner, but we should not have to face any significant program hardships in the near future. I do feel that the district should charge more in the way of users' fees for programs that are above and beyond the minimum state requirements, because they provide value to the students. I think that the "free" in free education is as much about choice and opportunity as it is about cost. I'd rather see us charging minimal lab fees and covering material costs for some programs than having to eliminate them because of their expense. As long as we provide the framework and infrastructure for education with the taxpayers' funds, I do not shy away from generating some revenue for extra services that we may provide from the direct beneficiaries of those services to help defray the cost of those services. This would not be intended to keep students that could not afford to pay the fees from being able to participate in the programs, there are ways to accomodate those situations as well.

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?

That is a very complex issue, and I do not feel I have the ability to bargain in this forum. Staff should expect and receive fair compensation for the work they do. The community should expect to pay fair wages for the services their are receiving. It is at the bargaining table and specific to the environment and situation at the time that fair is defined and agreed on by both sides.

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?

I would not support a substantial increase in pay for the sole reason of boosting pension benefits. We have a statewide pension problem and everyone that has financial authority needs to exercise self control.