David Fish: 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: Married, three children (ages 6, 8, 10), one dog, and two non-human fishes.
Education: Bachelor of Science (Political Science), Illinois State University, 1996; JD, Northern Illinois University College of Law, 1999
Civic involvement: *Loaves & Fishes Community Advisory Council *Part of Business/Community/Education Partnership with District 203 through prior employer--attended Naperville North High School business class to answer questions about being/becoming a lawyer; *Volunteer trail sentinel for the Will County Forest Preserve *Served as a soccer coach for the Naperville Park District *Chabad Jewish Center of Naperville *Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce *Lectured at school law conferences to educate administrators about developing educational law issues and at an Illinois Municipal League conference about conflicts of interest for board members. *Illinois State Bar Association's Local Government Law Section Council *Published articles related to local governmental bodies such asZero-Tolerance Discipline in Illinois Public Schools? which was published by the Illinois Bar Journal and provided guidance to school boards, administrators, and lawyers about "one size fits all" zero-tolerance discipline policies.
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Financial Responsibility: As a fiscally conservative business owner, I will protect the taxpayers by making sure money is not wasted. Before approving expenditures, I will ask whether they improve District 203's educational goals. The answer isyes? to things like competitive pay for teachers, technology, and developing curriculum. With the Board Of Education overseeing a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, District 203 is susceptible to wasteful spending without a board that, for example, insists on competitive pricing by vendors.
Key Issue 2
Successfully implementing the Common Core curriculum. Successfully implementing the Common Core will take a great deal of time, effort, and collaboration by our educators. I will make sure they are supported.
Key Issue 3
Transparency: The Board of Education is not keeping the public updated about important matters. For example, the Board of Education has refused to talk about why it authorized $100,000 in payments to a former employee who was eventually convicted of criminal sexual abuse of a student. The public should not have to learn in the news that the Board of Education knew about alleged DCFS violations relating to a superintendent candidate's prior job before they made a decision to hire him.
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 redistricting problems of the past are a result of a Board of Education that was disorganized and careless. It was a shame that our Board of Education spent thousands of dollars on a survey to study redistricting and Board members admitted they had not even bothered to read the study. I don't think the Board should threaten redistricting until it considers the impact on families?or at least until it reads the studies it used our money to purchase. Shuffling students from school to school is disruptive--particularly when families are left without answers about which school their children will attend in the near future. I cannot promise there will not be redistricting in the future. However, District 203 should institute the following family bill of rights relative to redistricting: * No Surprises: Families should know the educational path of their children in advance; it should not be a year-by-year surprise. As we have recently learned, unconfirmed maps threatening imminent changes cause anxiety. District 203 must conduct a long-term attendance study, project facility needs, and make commitments for the future to avoid rushing into redistricting. * Parent Redistricting Committee (PRC): In the event that redistricting is necessary, parental input must be considered. Administrators and outside consultants must consider PRC recommendations. After all, it is the parents who know their neighborhoods and how families and neighborhoods are impacted. * Least Disruptive Manner Possible: When possible, keep children in the same neighborhoods together and allow them to attend the school near their homes.
What in-the-classroom change would you like the district to make?
Classroom changes * Maintaining technology. Investments made in technology can be outdated in just a few years late. District 203 needs to maintain itself as a technology leader---but do so in a financially responsible manner. * Successfully implementing the Common Core standards in the classroom is critical. This will have significant in-classroom changes.
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?
As a parent with three children in District 203, I am excited that they will benefit from the Common Core. The Common Core provides a consistent clear understanding of what students are expected to learn and providesreal world? relevance. The Board of Education's role with respect to implementing Common Core is to make sure that our educators are provided appropriate resources for the implementation. It is not enough to just adopt the Common Core---as the U.S. Education Delivery Institute's workbook for implementing successful Common Core explains[a]s remarkable as the effort has been to get to this point [of adopting the Common Core], the true transformation will occur only if these goals are put into practice and fully implemented for the benefit of every student, in every classroom?? Successfully implementing the Common Core will take a great deal of work by our educators. I will make sure they are supported. With these changes, and the establishment of all-day kindergarten I do not support putting any additional substantial changes in place at this time.
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?
District 203 generally does an excellent job of preparing its students for the next stages of their lives. I would like to see attention focused on these areas: * Drug Prevention: Serious drug use is expanding in schools and killing our children. Nationally, 17% of high school students have consumed alcohol, smoked, or used drugs during the school day. District 203 needs to continue to address substance abuse early and effectively with the help of law enforcement, parents, professional counselors, and our educators. We have had too many of our students harmed by substance abuse and heroin use is growing. * I would like to see extended development of internships in the community. For example, if a student wants to be an architect, she should spend time apprenticing with an architectural firm during her senior year. Additional outreach to local businesses for internships programs would help students define what they want in their future. As someone who has used a District 203 student as an intern, I know first-hand the benefit students can also provide to the community.
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?
Springfield's plan to dump the pension mess it created onto local school districts will inevitably lead to higher taxes rates for District 203 property owners--or educational cuts. Illinois? Teachers? Retirement System (?TRS?) is seeking nearly $3.5 billion from the state for its portion of the pension costs for fiscal year 2014; roughly $500 million more than TRS system sought from the state for the previous fiscal year. This so calledpension reform? will lead to millions of dollars in tax increases to suburban and downstate homeowners. The Naperville Chamber of Commerce has reported based on discussion drafts of the cost-shift that local taxpayers in school districts 203 and 204 could assume up to $610,628,927 in pension funding obligations through Fiscal Year 2045. Even if the pension shift is softened (i.e., a smaller portion is shifted), these numbers are still very significant and could have a material impact on District 203's operations on a going forward basis. Identifying the problem is the easy part. Providing a solution is the hard part. There are really two choices that any institution has in a situation like this: cut spending or increase revenue--which largely means raising taxes to a publically-supported entity like District 203. Educational cuts are not a solution I will tolerate. Families move into District 203 because of our high quality of education, property values are stabilized because of District 203; and (perhaps selfishly) I want my kids to have an outstanding education now?and into the future. With this said, I believe there is substantial room for reducing expenses within District 203. As identified earlier, a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars, District 203 should invest in an outside audit to maximize its financial effectiveness. Like other local governmental entities that do this, an outside examination of expenditures is important and typically results in savings. For example, is it worth utilizing five separate law firms that collectively bill District 203 hundreds of thousands of dollars each year? Are we truly getting lowest pricing from vendors? Why did we pay a District 203 counselor $100,000 over a year and a half to sit at home and do nothing after he was charged with serious criminal misconduct? Why has our lawsuit with Warrenville dragged on since the Bush administration and cost our taxpayers a half million dollars in legal fees? An outside audit is not only appropriate, it is overdue. These are the examples of the type of fat that I would like to see cut from District 203's budget. Again, I do not support educational cuts. With such a large portion of District 203's budget being tied to personnel costs that are critical for maintaining a high quality District, it is likely that District 203 will need more revenue in the future if pension costs are shifted. As such, if necessary and as a last resort, I would support an increase in the tax levy to maintain a balanced budget. I would only do this, however, once I felt comfortable that the District needed to make such an increase and if it is necessary.
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