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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: Wheaton Warrenville District 200 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Wife: Pamela Paulsen 2 daughters: Karissa Paulsen: age 11 (6th grade) Juliana Paulsen: age 7 (2nd grade)
Occupation: I am a licensed architect. As Vice President, I have two areas of responsibility for my employer 1) I guide overall new client development efforts and other corporate-wide strategic initiatives 2) I lead of our PK-12 Education Practice
Education: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 1984 1991: Bachelor of Science in Architecture, 1988 Master of Architecture: Management, 1991 Master of Science in Finance: Real Estate and Urban Economics, 1991
Civic involvement: Citizen volunteer on the Hubble Middle School referendum committee in 2008 Volunteer soccer coach in the Wheaton Park District youth program Wife Pamela serves on the P.T.A. Board at both Lincoln and Edison Schools
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
With only one of seven current school board members still having children in District 200 schools I hope torefresh? our Board's perspective from the view of parents of young children. As a parent of a 2nd grader and 6th grader I will bring the perspective gained from reading papers in the daily folders, listening to parents of similar-aged children and talking with students and teachers at school events. The time is now to refresh the Board's perspective of what is happening daily inside in our schools, the hurdles that our students face and the opportunities that parents are seeking in their children's education.
Key Issue 2
I hope to continue pushing forward on technology improvements to support teaching and learning. Our District is behind other communities and school districts in this regard. I believe our students are missing opportunities to better prepare for their next steps in life. We need to continue the recent work that has been done on the core infrastructure, and then advance teaching and learning methodologies to enhance student learning and 21st century skills developments. I believe we can do this within our financial means.
Key Issue 3
The continued development of curriculum around the Common Core standards without compromising the strong financial health of the District will be a central focus. The District is in a good position financially, and having planned for likely pension obligation changes, we have a great opportunity to evolve how we prepare students for college and career readiness. There are a lot of new innovative ideas happening nationally that I have become aware of in working with school districts for 22 years. I want to bring my vision and expertise to advance District 200. I am confident we can do this within our means and I would resist looking to taxpayers for additional funding.
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 am excited about the evolving curriculum and expectations to achieve college and career readiness. As the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are in place for Illinois, our role as school board members should be to support the work of our educators in aligning our curriculum with CCSS. I also believe that we should challenge, not just accept, the ideas that our brought forth. I am interested in three areas that I believe should be integrated into our curriculum including technology, community partnerships and innovative learning models. I also believe that we need to recognize that the shift to CCSS will change instructional practices in the classroom. We need to support our teacher's need to adjust accordingly and give them sufficient time and training to develop appropriate instructional methods and assessments.
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 have heard some dissatisfaction recently, but those concerns are not necessarily widespread, and they certainly are a national issue. I would continue looking for new, innovative approaches. Beyond implementation of Common Core standards, I would bring new ideas centered on enhancing the use of technology; developing unique community partnerships and bringing innovative learning models to District 200 that are transforming teaching and learning. Further development and prioritization of Professional Learning Communities will allow the teachers to better individualize instruction for all students. I would also look to enhance STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities in our schools.
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 current School Board has worked hard to significantly improve the financial health of the District. This is reflected in the Financial Recognition issued by the Illinois State Board of Education, the positive fund balance indicated in 5-year projections, and the credit profile issued by Standard & Poors in April 2012. With that said there are challenges that lie ahead. Bond debt and bond service costs will become a large issue in Levy Years 2016-2022. The Board will need to look for opportunities to refinance debt to maintain approximate current levels and extend further past the current duration. Any opportunity to refinance at low rates should be considered so that taxpayer impact is minimized. The pension resolution in Springfield needs to be watched closely. The District has planned for the scenario that would require them to start funding the Teacher Retirement System by making assumptions and allocating future fund balances to avoid asking taxpayers for additional funding. This plan should avoid any program cuts in the near future. I would resist any plan that seeks (through a tax rate referendum) more funds from taxpayers for operational/educational expenses. Let's continue the good work that has been done and work within our means.
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 don't believe than any of the above expectations should be automatically expected, ruled out or demanded. Employees of the District work on behalf of the larger community. As such, I would encourage the Board to work with each group independently and make sure the goals of the Board, the expectations of the community and the objectives of the employee group are clearly communicated and understood. The school board needs to take a long-term perspective for the health of the District, while respecting taxpayer concerns and pressures. A solution needs to be created that balances student needs, employee needs and taxpayer needs.
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 would not support a late-career pension boost. With that said, there are often instances where school superintendents and administrators are recruited by other School Districts. If District 200 were in such position, and we felt retaining our district leadership was critical to sustaining our momentum and success, I would work with the Board to come up with a creative solution to encourage our district leadership to stay. I would look for a solution that minimizes the impact on the district's financial plan, as well as all taxpayers, without compromising the impact on student learning.