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updated: 2/22/2013 6:38 PM

Jackie Romberg: Candidate Profile

Naperville Unit District 203 School Board (4-year Terms)

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  • Jackie Romberg, running for Naperville Unit District 203 School Board (4-year Terms)

    Jackie Romberg, running for Naperville Unit District 203 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: Naperville


Office sought: Naperville Unit District 203 School Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 55

Family: Married for 32 years to Steve, and have two children.

Occupation: Community Volunteer

Education: B.S. In Accountancy, College of Commerce DePaul University C.P.A.

Civic involvement: District 203: School Board Member since 2007, Vice President since 2009 Finance Advisory Committee Facilities Planning Committee Discipline/Co-Curricular Advisory Naperville Education Foundation trustee Home & School President, Washington Junior High School Chairman of SFCP Team, WJHS Chairman of SFCP Team, Prairie Elementary Member of District 203's Core Team Home & School Board Member, Prairie, WJHS, NNHS Washington Building Improvement Team Superintendent Advisory Board Community Partnership for Education Committee for the 21st Century, Finance Committee Recipient ofBest Practices Award?: SFCP WJHS Recipient ofThose Who Excel? Classroom and Committee Volunteer, Prairie current current?current?current?2005-07?2004-05, 2005-06?2003-04?2002-03?2002-04 1995-2007?2004-06?1999-2001?2001-02?2001-02 2003-04, 2004-05?2002?1995-2003 Community: Park District Swim Conference Judge Park District Soccer Liaison Volunteer at Independent Senior Village Century Hill Homeowners? Association Board Woods of Bailey Hobson Homeowners? Association

Elected offices held: District 203 Board of Education since 2007, Vice President since 2009

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Educational Excellence. High quality public education is a hallmark of our community. Businesses and families move to our community because of our schools. While I believe our schools are very strong in the context of our state, we must prepare our students to enter a global society. Therefore, we need to evaluate our success on a more global basis. New standards called the Common Core will replace existing state standards and involve more rigor. The introduction of Common Core standards will be challenging for our educators and students, so our district has to keep an in-depth monitoring process in place to make sure this new approach is effective and ultimately ensures high performance. One measure of District 203 educational excellence and growth has been an upward trend in ACT composite scores in since 2006, from 24.5 to 25.3. While we are proud of our achievements as a district, we know a mindset of continuing improvement is essential.

Key Issue 2

Financial Stewardship. I take this fiduciary responsibility very seriously. We have to constantly look for ways to become more efficient and challenge unnecessary expenditures. We have made great strides in getting all four labor groups to tie employee salaries to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Property taxes under the tax cap are allowed to increase by CPI and now labor costs in the district are tied to CPI. This approach safeguards the district's reserves while still necessitating fiscal discipline and challenging every dollar spent. Another example of financial discipline was the $115 million facilities project that was completed under budget and ahead of schedule. This year will be the fourth debt service levy (out of five years) associated with this referendum, which was not levied to the taxpayers, saving over $3 million per year. Effective financial discipline allowed the district to service this debt out of existing revenues while still ensuring access to a high-quality education for all our students.

Key Issue 3

Plan for the class of 2026-2030. Our students entering school in 2013 will graduate in 2026 to careers that have not yet been developed. Our planning needs to include hiring the very best and innovative teachers and administrators, and making sure the best and most technologically effective tools are in our students? classrooms. I will continue to focus my efforts on post-secondary counseling opportunities for our students during their high school years.

Questions & Answers

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?

Initially, the conversations about All Day Kindergarten (ADK) and enrollment capacity could have been more effectively communicated to the community. In an effort to improve, we have taken a different approach this year. The administrators presented the plan for seven elementary schools that receive Title I federal funding to start ADK in the (2013-2014) school year. The remaining elementary schools are proposed to start ADK the next year (2014-2015). I support this phased approach and think there is much to be learned with this methodology. While I believe ADK is the best approach for all our students, there are many parents in the community that are not in favor of it. This phased approach will give time for some evaluations to be performed, while getting this programming delivered to students that will most likely make educational gains. With regard to boundaries, the changes made last year have students thriving in their new schools thanks to very careful planning by teachers and administrators, as well as very supportive parents. The schools most affected by this relief are succeeding thanks to lower enrollments and overall smaller class sizes. Boundary changes are the most emotional issue a school district faces and thanks to many understanding families, these shifts have helped balance overall enrollment, which will improve the quality of education for all students in the short and long term.

What in-the-classroom change would you like the district to make?

I would like to seeCareer 203?-- an improved professional development and continuing education plan for teachers-- implemented across the district. As part of the last collective bargaining agreement (2010-2013) with the teachers in our district, a Committee of Professional Innovation was established. The committee was charged with looking at performance-based evaluations and continuing education for teachers. The goal was to further define what performance/continuing education is worthy of recognition on the teacher's pay scale. This committee is developing an approach that represents a profound change from the traditional professional development models, which primarily involved completing a certain number of courses.Career 203? is lauded by teachers on the committee asa high quality professional development and career path model?. This innovative and progressive approach for professional development will support educator growth and teaching quality. This is a positive change from the traditional professional development model and can have a significant impact on student learning. Changes are on the horizon with teacher evaluations and this committee's formation was a progressive step in the 2010 contract by administrators and teachers. The launch of this program is scheduled for September 2013-2014.

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?

The move to Common Core Standards are welcome and overdue. These standards will replace existing state standards and they will be much more rigorous. The program will focus on developing critical thinking skills and will be evaluated at all grade levels. We are a global society and need to compare our students to a global standard of excellence. The Board of Education's role is policy setting for Common Core Curriculum. This is the largest single change in curriculum and the administrators have presented numerous updates on the process of folding out this new programming to the Board of Education. New math and literacy standards will be in place in the fall. As an example, the high school teachers wanted to implement the Common Core a year early make sure the programming was what they expected. This made the curriculum development work schedule very aggressive. I personally am very interested on the science component as I feel our students should get more exposure to science earlier in their education. These science standards are currently being developed. Ultimately, as a Board we are responsible for providing support and ultimately approving these changes, and I am optimistic that they will set a standard for our students to compete in a global society.

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?

I am satisfied that the district effectively transitions students from Junior High to High School with much support from parents, and I also believe we are doing a very good job preparing our student for post-secondary life. As a parent of two Naperville North graduates, I have some first hand experience with students that thought District 203 prepared them well for college. Having said that, the graduates of the class of 2026 that will start their education next year will face a rapidly changing world including new college admission and employment challenges. As a district, we cannot stand by without adapting. The district has partnerships with many businesses that offer internships to our students who might go to college or become employed after high school. With the enormous costs associated with college we need to help offer students alternatives to the traditional four-year college track. Our two high schools have revamped their approach to post-secondary preparation in the last four years, and the collaborative approach between the schools to share their strengths has translated into more numerous and better opportunities for all our students.

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 district is well aware of the continued uncertainty of general state funding and now the added uncertainty with the pension shortfall. The district currently has a surplus over the Board policy reserve of 10% of the fund balance. The surplus over the reserve allows the district to not borrow money when the state is late with their payments, which in the past few years has become the norm. The district has accurately projected both revenues and expenses and this has made for solid financial forecasting. A comparison of the actual 2012-13 budget to the projection five years ago (2007-08) shows a decrease in expenses of $18.6 million dollars. Voters should know that the district is always looking for ways to reduce expenses while not sacrificing educational opportunities for our students. I do not believe any programing cuts are necessary in the near future thanks to prudent planning. We must continue to maintain a close eye on all expenditures and maintain the financial discipline that I take so seriously and know our community expects. Expenditures have to be challenged to ensure their cost effectiveness. In my last five and half years on the board we had balanced budgets every year. I know the community trusted the current board with the $115 million facilities projects that was completed last year under budget and ahead of schedule. This year will be the fourth debt service levy (out of five years) associated with this referendum that was not levied to the taxpayers. This saving is over $3 million per year. , resulting in $3 million dollars of savings. Effective financial discipline allowed the district to service this debt out of existing revenues.