Breaking News Bar
updated: 2/22/2013 6:38 PM

Gary Saake: Candidate Profile

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

Success - Article sent! close
  • Gary Saake, running for West Chicago High School District 94 School Board (4-year Terms)

    Gary Saake, 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.

Jump to:

BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Winfield

Website: http://http//

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

Age: 55

Family: Married for 22 years to my wife Anna, no children.

Occupation: Vice President and Co-owner, DATAIR Employee Benefit Systems, Inc.

Education: Naperville Central High School, 1975 College of DuPage

Civic involvement: CHS District 94 Education Foundation Winfield Township Republican Central Committee 4 the People of Illinois

Elected offices held: Appointed Treasurer - Community High School District 94, 2007-2009 Member - Board of Education, Community High School District 94, 2009-Present

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Academic Achievement and Accountability: My highest priority is improving student achievement at all academic levels through increased rigor, expectations, and targeted programs. Establishing a wide range of metrics to better assess student growth, the effectiveness of programs and personnel, and implementing accountability throughout the organization are critical elements that are currently lacking.

Key Issue 2

Continued Fiscal Responsibility: The district has made great strides in achieving what I refer to "Fiscal Sustainability". That means looking at the long-term impact of the decisions made. The importance of this has been demonstrated throughout the financial downturn. As other districts were making draconian cuts in staff and programs, we were able to make adjustments that provided a stable educational environment, while not deficit spending. As chair of the Finance Committee for the past four years, I'm very proud of what we have been able to accomplish under extremely difficult circumstances. Fiscal stability is fundamental to our core mission. The District earned a perfect 4.0 fiscal rating from the State Board of Education each of the past three years, and we expect to receive it again this year. A 4.0 score had never previously been awarded to the District.

Key Issue 3

Communication and Transparency: The importance of fostering and maintaining trusting relationships internally and externally through open communication and collaboration can't be overstated. We need to move beyond communication, to engagement of all stakeholders. I believe in open government, and championed an initiative that resulted in the development of a transparency portal on the District's web site. If re-elected, I will seek to expand the quantity, types, and clarity of information made readily available to the public.

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?

Common Core holds a great deal of promise, but its success will depend on how it's implemented in each district. I am hopeful that it is not just another passing fad in education, but represents a true transformation in defining what is expected of both students and educators. By statute, the Board of Education is responsible for approving curriculum. I believe it the Board's responsibility to assure that the district is offering a balanced curriculum of core and elective courses that are aligned with the Common Core Standards, offer students the greatest variety of educational opportunities that are relevant and rigorous, and which prepare them for college and careers. I would be supportive of additional AP courses that challenge students' abilities, and additional interventions that target specific deficiencies. I also support a thorough review of all curricula on a regular basis to assess which course offerings should be removed, revised, or replaced.

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?

When it comes to preparing youth for the future, I don't think we can or should ever be satisfied with the status quo. Simply put, I believe we need to be doing more, and it needs to be the central focus of the Board moving forward. At the same time, I don't believe the District receives due credit for the many good things that happen every day through the efforts of an incredibly talented and dedicated staff, administration, and board.

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?

On the revenue side, the continued state of the economy and the fiscal condition of the State and Federal governments are of great concern. On the expense side, collective bargaining and the possible cost shift of pensions to local districts are my greatest concerns. The cost of implementing the Common Core Curriculum, and implementing new state and federal mandates are also significant issues facing us. We have been constantly reviewing expenses with an eye towards reducing costs without diminishing educational opportunities for students, and have been very successful in accomplishing that throughout the economic downturn. I do not support an increase in property tax rates, and have proposed a $400,000 abatement of the 2012 property tax levy.

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?

I support providing salary and benefits adjustments which are in line with that of the private sector in the community, while living within our financial means.

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 oppose end-of-career salary bumps intended solely to increase pension earnings for any employee. From my experience in the private pension industry, I understand how these increases adversely affect pension funding, and how they have been a factor in the present pension debacle in Illinois.