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: Wheaton Warrenville District 200 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Jan and her husband, Craig, have raised four sons, Mike, Brian, Will, and Phil, all of whom attended CUSD200 schools K-12.
Occupation: Retired. Developed software for telephone switching systems at AT&T/Lucent. Substitute taught in many District 200 schools and Glenbard high schools.
Education: Purdue (BS in math) 1978, National Lewis University certificate to teach High school math 2004
Civic involvement: Attendee and speaker at CUSD200 board meetings. Board Member and volunteer, West Suburban Patriots, a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(4) organization that seeks to involve people who historically may not have been active in the political process, to improve our communities and nation through fiscal responsibility, respect for the Constitution, and free markets.
Elected offices held: none
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Representing parents and taxpayers for affordable, quality schools. This district can keep a balanced budget without taxing to the max. Every child in District 200 has his or her own special needs. Every parent has to find a way to provide those needs within family budgets that are already suffering from ever higher property taxes in a down economy. One incumbent board member has stated publicly that if you can't afford the taxes, you should move. That mentality is wrong. We need new leaders who understand that our children only benefit from our schools if families can afford to live here.
Key Issue 2
The Jefferson referendum is not necessary. The district already has enough money in the building fund to build an appropriate new early childhood center designed by the District's own architects at the same time as the Hubble plan (2007). CUSD200 received a capital improvement grant for $14.46 million last May. That money is sitting in their checking account while they ask the taxpayers for permission to go millions further in debt. I am encouraging a No vote on the referendum, and if elected would vote to use the capital grant money to build a new Jefferson without further burdening the taxpayers. If preschool was a priority as the Board claims, it would have already started construction.
Key Issue 3
Through curriculum, sports and extracurricular activities we must inspire all students to become the best they can be. TheAmerican Dream? is achievable by all. School policies must give teachers the freedom and inspiration to be their best, so that they in turn will inspire students.
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 agree with the concept that there are certain basics that all students should know. And since our students will be taking standardized tests, our curriculum must get the students ready for those tests. But, the devil is in the details. Traditionally local school districts have controlled their own curriculum. Giving a centralized bureaucracy the authority to dictate to local school districts goes against our principles. I would rather set our own standards, incorporating the best ideas from our community and staff, and looking to other successful school districts for best practice ideas. Illinois and CUSD200 are currently implementing common core standards. As a school board member, I will pay close attention to the results and solicit community feedback.
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?
It is not one size fits all. Students come will a variety of talents and ambitions. All students should be challenged to do their best by setting high, but achievable goals. Despite what the District says, we are not doing an excellent job of educating all students. According to the most recent state report card, 27% of our high school juniors don't meet state standards in math, and 30% don't meet state standards in reading. That is not acceptable. The district does an excellent job of educating the gifted students as demonstrated by the recent AP award and the number of students who go on to complete college. But we cannot focus solely on the highest achievers and leave others behind. I would change our approach by starting at the lower grade levels to make sure that students have the basic foundational skills they need and that those skills are not only learned, but reinforced so that they become part of every students? permanent tool kit.
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?
I do not support a tax to the max policy. Small, less than inflation tax increases may be necessary, but must be justified. The state of Illinois is a quarter behind on its payments to the school district and they are threatening to shift pension funding to the districts. We need to be prepared. The largest expense category is salary and benefits. Back in 2008, the projections going forward, if the district kept renewing contracts with the same percent pay increases, was continual deficit spending. Average teacher raises and total payroll costs were going up significantly faster than inflation while student enrollment numbers were declining. Controlling the rate of growth has stabilized the budget. We must maintain fiscal discipline.
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?
Future contracts cannot exceed the taxpayers? ability to pay. Pay increases for the less experienced teachers are justified since salaries start low and teachers become more valuable with experience. Ideally, increases, especially for experienced teachers, should be tied to merit - the devil will be in the details. Any structural changes to the salary schedules must be negotiated and within the district's ability to pay.
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?
NO! Pension funding is still taxpayer money it just comes out of a different pocket. Pay increases are used to motivate or to keep a good employee from leaving. How can an end of career bump motivate an employee who is biding his time until retirement? Furthermore, end of career salary spiking is a major cause of the state's current pension crisis. One estimate showed that in 2010 TRS was paying out $3 for every $2 it would have paid had there been no spiking. One of the most egregious examples is Dr. Catalani, who was CUSD200 superintendent from 1999 to 2007. He received 20% pay raises his last three years of employment giving him a starting pension that was about the same as his salary at the time of the announcement.