Jay Fisher: Candidate Profile
Naperville Unit District 203 School Board (4-year Terms)
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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.
Office sought: Naperville Unit District 203 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Wife, Jill; Sons Jacob, 12, and Alex, 9
Occupation: Stay at Home Dad
Education: BA in Government, Cornell University JD with Honors, George Washington Univ. Law School
Civic involvement: Member, Naperville District 203 Citizens Finance Advisory Committee, 2011-present Treasurer, STAGE, 2011-present Treasurer, Steeple Run Home & School 2009-11 Various Committee Chair and Co-Chair positions, Steeple Run and Kennedy Home and Schools Lisle and Naperville Park District Soccer Coach
Elected offices held: Trustee, Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection Dist. 1999-2012 (Appointed Position)
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
With the possible pension shift from the state to the District I will use my background and public sector finance experience to insure that the budget continues to be balanced and every penny is spent wisely and assists learning by our students.
Key Issue 2
The way that the boundary issue, all day kindergarten and the calendar were handled shows that the Board needs to work better on creating logical processes and listening to the concerns of constituents. If elected I will listen to all stakeholders and make sure the decision making process is logical.
Key Issue 3
When I ran two years ago I raised the issue of lowering class size for grades K-2. Demographic changes are leading to more unused classrooms and while the underutilization issue was supposed to be addressed during the boundary discussions it was not. I will try and see if there is a way to utilize extra class space to lower class size. Even if that is not possible, the District needs to deal with the under-utilization of facilities at some schools.
The school board has struggled with major issues such as boundary changes and implementing all-day kindergarten. How can the board improve its process of addressing such major undertakings and how will you specifically help it succeed?
The Board hired an expert to look at the problem, created a Committee to come up with a recommendation and gave the Committee some guidelines. Two problems occurred. First, the Board backtracked quickly after the firstsupposal? created discontent. Second, the Board needed to make a decision first on all-day Kindergarten so the experts and Committee knew what the capacity of the schools needed to be. A similar dynamic occurred during discussions about the calendar. What the Board needs to do better is figure out what needs to be decided, who is to decide and if all the facts necessary to make the decision are known. Then, the Board needs to let the process go to its conclusion and make a final decision.
What in-the-classroom change would you like the district to make?
In addition to the issue of K-2 class size I would like to see that all teachers are trained in presenting differentiated curriculum. With the changes a few years back to Elementary enrichment and the coming Common Core teachers are being asked to differentiate material to their students who are at different levels. Without proper training I fear that this is not being done or is not being done well.
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 think in a more globalized environment with a need for a more highly educated citizenry the increased rigor of the Common Core is needed. In general a Board should set policy and let staff implement it. The Board should not have a large role in setting curriculum.
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?
From my limited experience the District does a good job preparing students for High School. The longitudinal study the District is doing of its graduates should yield important data on how the District is doing preparing students for higher education. The students I meet with who have applied to Cornell are highly qualified and well prepared for a competitive college.
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?
The major budget issue is whether the state will shift pension costs to the local districts. With the high reserve the District has it can handle the shift better than most. If the shift does not occur the District needs to decide how to handle the reserve that is four times larger than Board policy. As a member of the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee I have advocated levying less than the maximum allowed if there is no shift to slowly return the reserve to the taxpayers.. Second, like most government bodies the majority of the expenses are for personnel. The District needs to insure that contracts do not lead to expenses rising faster than inflation.
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