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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.
City: Villa Park
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: DuPage District 45 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, two children Husband: Glenn Nystrom Daughter: Bethany Nystrom Son: Robert Nystrom
Occupation: Mathematics Teacher (High School)
Education: Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1976) Master of Science in Education with a Mathematics emphasis, Northern Illinois University (1980) Additional Graduate level courseworkat: U of C, U of I, etc.
Civic involvement: PTA (Life Member), Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Elected offices held: Villa Park/Lombard District 45 Board of Education (1997-2013)
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
I am interested in supporting the educational process in District 45. The district staff, students, parents, and community desire and require a sound educational system. It is my intent to support sound and researched professional development, from the Board level. Funding for education locally is strong. Funding from state and federal sources are of concern to me due to their unpredictable nature. We need to use our funds wisely to support good instruction so that our students have every opportunity to achieve at the highest level.
Key Issue 2
With the impending retirement of our current superintendent and the recent appointment of her replacement, I am focused on providing a smooth transition for the district. I desire to provide the new superintendent with the best opportunity to share his vision for the district and his passion for education with the members of our District 45 community. The Board of Education is excited about the possibilities which lie ahead for District 45. It is my firm belief we are heading in a solid curricular direction in the district. I want to be an integral part of the Board of Education to keep us moving in this direction. Students have been making remarkable gains in learning and meeting state standards. It is important to keep this momentum and continue to foster a culture of learning for all students.
Key Issue 3
As mentioned in my Number 1 campaign issue response, I know that school finances must be monitored closely. I have served on the District 45 Finance Committee for the past three years. This experience coupled with my mathematical background provide me with a basis to evaluate expenditures and revenues of the district. It is critical to expend dollars in a manner which contributes the most value for our community. The need and desire to be fiscally responsible is a focus of my board service.
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 think the shift to the Common Core Standards is a good direction. The expectations of students and teachers are quite high in regard to the Common Core Standards. I know that our students are ready for this rigor with the support of their teachers and involved parents. In District 45 we have all of the components necessary for success. The Board of Education must be knowledgeable of the needed curricualr modifications and transitions required to fully implement the standards. A strong Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, as we have in District 45, is vital in keeping all of the curricular changes organized and impactful. The Board needs to continue incorporate the implementation of the Common Core Standards into our District annual goals. Administrators are then assigned respective tasks appropriate to their job descriptions. These are reported on quarterly to the board and included as a component of each administrators evaluation. Articulation with the high school district has occurred in the curricular areas of Mathematics and English. This needs to be continued and supported by the board. District 45 has been exploring a new mathematics program which is better aligned to the Common Core Standards. I support the continuation of this research and would support the other curricular areas conducting such an inventory of current programs. I support the current initiatives in literacy. These are in sync with the Common Core Standards regarding reading and writing.
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 with the process we are engaged in to help students move form our elementary district to the high school district. The move to the COmmon Core Standards will support the bridging of the gap between the current elementary state assessments and those of the high school. Students from District 45 are successful at the high school level currently, but will be challenged more by the Common Core Standards. The passion of the elementary/middle school staff for education and student learning is apparent at the high school level. This passion translates to student success ar all levels. We need to be supportive of our students in all grade levels as we encourage/require them to achieve even more in our classrooms. In order to continue to move all students along this educational continuum, I would like to see evne more dialogue between District 45 and District 88. This will be helpful as all stakeholders observe and process the impact to our students and thier families of the learning activities.
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 state of funding from the state of Illinois is frustrating for school districts. Money from the state is often delayed. This contributes to uncertainty. The district budgets according to expected revenues, but many times in the last few years funding has been delayed leaving us wondering if the funds will ever arrive to the district. We must budget very carefully and plan for the event that funds are not received. When faced with declining revenues a few years ago, the board established a citizens advisory committee to advise the board on how to address the anticipated deficit. The board has worked hard to not cut programs. We belive the programs we offer have value. For example, we chose not to cut the arts (music and art), but rather put some capital improvement projects on hold and hold off on a purchase of a new school bus. This allowed us to analze better the delayed revenues, yet keep the programs in place for students. Unfortunately, we did reduce some staff as we had been experiencing some decline in enrollment districtwide. I am not in favor of a tax increase at this time. We have been careful with our current expenditures and are in a better financial situation.
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 subject of employee and board concessions is always a topic of negotiations...give and take. The model used in our last negotiations was a modified interest based bargaining model. This process generated an atmosphere of collaboration between parties to address areas of concern. It was not a perfect model, but served us well. In this recent set of contract talks, there was not a pay freeze, but rather a pay increase we as a board had been working on since the previous negotiations contained pay and benefit freezes. There was a minor benfit increase. We need to access the district financial health as we enter into talks with various employee groups. Sometimes concessions need to be made.
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, I would not support an increase in superintendent other administrator pay to boost pension benefits. This has been my position even when "other" neighboring districts were doing such. I do not believe our financial situation warrents such a salary enhancement.