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Article updated: 2/22/2013 6:38 PM

James Mathieson: Candidate Profile

Wheaton Warrenville District 200 School Board (4-year Terms)

James Mathieson, running for Wheaton Warrenville District 200 School Board (4-year Terms)

James Mathieson, running for 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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Warrenville

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Wheaton Warrenville District 200 School Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 64

Family: Married, three children, four grandchildren

Occupation: Managing partner of CPA firm of Mathieson, Moyski, Celer & Co, LLP; Financial consultant/auditor of over 50 State of Illinois school districts of last 30 years; Certified Public Accountant; Board of Directors Wheaton Bank & Trust Company

Education: BS Degree in Accounting, Northern Illinois University

Civic involvement: Vice President of the Downtown Wheaton Association; Past President and long term member of Wheaton Lions Club; Long term member, treasurer, government affairs committee of Wheaton Chamber of Commerce; Church Council of St Matthew's United Church of Christ; Treasurer of Friends of Park; Member of the CUSD 200 New 200 Foundation; Chairman of the Friends of the Theatre; Board of Directors Wheaton Cemetery Association; Baseball, soccer coach Wheaton Park District programs; Board Member DuPage Heritage Gallery

Elected offices held: no Public offices

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Because of financial conditions confronting the State of Illinois as it relates to school district financing and pension programs, the district will need to be ready to adapt to significant funding challenges. I believe my background and experience in dealing with financial matters of school districts and my involvement as a board member of numerous non school district boards of directors would be an asset to the board.

Key Issue 2

Considering/discovering alternative strategic partnerships needed to assist in funding school district programs through funding sources other than the local real estate tax. The local taxpayer is approaching, if not at, the limit of their ability to fund governmental programs.

Key Issue 3

Incorporate enhancements of technology to better prepare students for the future. We need significant enhancements to student access to classroom technology. We need to set in motion a plan for a one student to one tablet ratio. The current level of technology based educational delivery is deficient.

Questions & Answers

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?

Clearly the trained educators employed by the District need to be charged with the delivery of the program. The Board needs to set goals and monitor the goals to be certain that the objectives are being achieved. I believe the most important component of the program should involve an enhancement of the technological delivery system. We need to incorporate available but constantly changing electronic device components into our educational program. Significant enhancements are needed.

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?

CUSD 200 has had a great record of student achievement. Better educational incorporation of technology is critical. We need to proactively deal with the economic challenges without burdening the local taxpayer further. We need to find create strategic partnerships and approaches to maintain the highest standards of achievement. This process, of course, also needs retooling, new training to the existing staff so they can provide proper direction to student achievement.

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 economic condition of the State of Illinois as it relates to both pension costs and other financial matters will materially drive local school district economics. The biggest problem is the State's inability to make a decision. Without any conclusion to solve this problem by the State, no appropriate planning can be made on the local level. I believe my extensive financial background will allow me to make a significant contribution to the community/board in adapting to whatever challenges that the local district will be facing. The current real estate tax system has a built-in CPI increase being passed on to the local taxpayer. I am neither in favor of this creeping tax rate increase nor further tax burden to the local taxpayer via constantly increasing real estate taxes. In 2010, there were significant cost reductions to the instruction programs. I believe through better technology, we can improve achievement while containing costs. Models for this currently exist but will require significant challenges and training to make it happen. The district has an operating budget projection that indicates operating income can maintain the status quo. Howvever this budget projection does not address necessary technology improvements or effective building maintenance costs. These known future costs need to be addressed.

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?

The teachers clearly participated in the cost reduction programs that occurred in 2010. I do not see any way that retired teachers' pensions can be constitutionally modified nor do I think they should be. Recent changes to the new teacher pension benefits are appropriate but will not solve today's challenges. I would prefer merit based systems for some component of compensation to reward high achieving staff if an effective evaluation system can be established, but its purpose should not be a cost saving mechanism. Replacing high salaried retiring teachers with lower paid new teachers cannot be the only staff cost savings. We must find a better way to lower the cost per student. I believe through better technology we can improve achievement while containing increasing costs.

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?

After numerous mysteries surrounding recent superintendents, I believe we have an excellent superintendent in place and he is not nearing retirement. As any other chief executive officer, I believe a superintendent should be compensated commensurate with the skills and achievements they may provide.

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