Harold Lonks: Candidate Profile
Wheaton Warrenville District 200 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: Wheaton Warrenville District 200 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married two daughters
Occupation: Self-employed Accountant / Consultant
Education: BS in Accounting and Finance - University of Dayton, 1981
Civic involvement: Pleasant Hill PTA Officer Jefferson Early Childhood Center PTA Member Deputy Registrar for DuPage County Election Commission Milton Township CERT Member Klein Creek Homeowners Association Board Member
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Making decisions in the best interest of "all" the children in our schools so they can all receive an excellent education.
Key Issue 2
Being fiscally responsible with the taxpayers' monies while making certain the monies are being well spent on students in the classroom.
Key Issue 3
Providing the teachers with the proper tools and training to best educate our students in our ever changing world. This also includes that our facilities are properly maintained.
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?
States such as Illinois are adopting common core to qualify for No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers and to receive additional federal funding. I do not believe a shift to common core standards will magically make students better learners, master the curriculum or achieve higher test scores. The board's role in setting curriculum is evaluating and voting on curriculum changes presented by curriculum experts in the administration.
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?
The district has many high achieving students graduating high school. However, I am not satisfied with 30% of our high school graduates in reading and 27% in math testing below state standards. A significant number of CUSD200 students attending colleges and universities as freshmen must take remedial courses in preparation for college level courses. The district routinely administers assessment tests throughout the school year to track student progress. These results need to be shared with the students, parents and teachers so the "at-risk" student can seek help in the subject areas where they are the weakest.
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 biggest budget challenge is higher expenses and lower revenue. Expenses are growing at a rate greater than CPI while our largest revenue source (property taxes) is capped at CPI. The board will need to look into possible shifting or reducing benefits which is one of the fastest growing expenditures. I do not support raising taxes to the "max"; however, there might be times that taxes would need to be increased in order to capture properties that have not been fully taxed on CUSD200 tax rolls, such as TIFF properties and new housing or building developments.
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?
It will depend on the financial condition of the district, the state of the economy, and the employee group. Most employees in the district are protected under various labor laws. In order to ask for any concessions from an employee group, the concessions must start at the top with the administration. They must lead by example by accepting concessions before any other employee group.
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?
Absolutely not. The taxpayers can no longer afford to pay outrageous end of career salaries and the TRS pension system can't afford paying out the associated expensive pensions. These tax dollars are better spent providing support for almost 30% of the students failing to meet state standards upon graduating high school.
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