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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: Carol Stream
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Benjamin District 25 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, 2 Children
Occupation: Vice-President Loss Prevention & Security West Suburban Bank
Education: Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Sociology, University Illinois Chicago, 1973
Civic involvement: 15 years as a board member: Benjamin District #25 School Board Past President 2 years; Past Vice-President 5 years; Currently Vice-President
Elected offices held: 4 consecutive terms elected - Benjamin School District #25 First elected in 1998
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: Never
Key Issue 1
Helping to provide all district students the best opportunities that will allow them to grow into productive lifelong learners.
Key Issue 2
Providing these opportunities to all district students by operating within a balanced budget.
Key Issue 3
To promote relationships and partnerships, such as we have with the Carol Stream Park District to open our facilities to others in our Community.
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?
As a current member of the school board I can state that our curriculum which has always been very solid has already begun to align itself to the common core standards. Our schools? curriculum will be completely aligned by the end of the next school year. Annually, the curriculum had always been reviewed by our principals and superintendent to provide the board information of any possible changes that would be needed to continue to provide our students the best possible education. Where changes were necessary, the board found the ways to accomplish those changes. The board of education needs to take the information and recommendations from our administrative team as they are the experts in these matters and make the changes happen that are needed to provide the best educational experience possible for our students. At times that may mean more money needs to be spent on those educational needs and the board must make the decisions that finds that money.
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 extremely happy with how our district prepares our students for that next step. Our district students tend to excel in high school and are normally ranked high amongst academics, athletics and the arts. That is not to say every one of those students excels, but more than 75% of them do, so that says a lot about the 'experience' they received at Benjamin District #25. I say 'experience' and not 'education' as I feel that we offer so much more than an 'education' at Benjamin District #25. We offer a vast amount of educational programing along with opportunities in sports, band, preforming arts, after school clubs, etc. Not every student gets math or science, but they get band or volleyball or like preforming in plays. If they are interested and enjoy those other opportunities that are offered in the district, they know that they must do well in their academic subjects to continue in those other activities. Accordingly they put in the work to do well and get good grades to continue with these other activities. My two children spend their entire elementary years in the Benjamin School District. I have seen them and many of their fellow classmates become very successful individuals as adults. Many of them comment on their experiences at Benjamin and the fact that they would not be where they are at today without the solid diverse opportunities that they were offered at Benjamin District #25!
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?
At this time and into the next several years the District is not expected to be confronted by any budget issues. We have had a plan in place going back to our last referendum which was passed in 2004. We have stayed true to our promise in 2004 of not asking for more monies through taxes and to make that money last at least 7-8 years. Along with the passing of the referendum, the district also began cost cutting measures which have resulted in an annual savings of about $975,000 to the district. These measures along with the passing of that referendum will allow the district to meet all expected budgetary needs through 2018 or beyond. The school board has exceeded that promise made in 2004 and have been able to keep our facilities and technology updated, remain properly staffed based on enrollment with very talented teachers and provided exceptional educational , athletic and extra-curricular opportunities to allow our students to become lifelong learners and successful once they leave the Benjamin District #25 schools.
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?
Our teachers' contract is up at the end of this school year so we will be negotiating a new contract very soon. As in past years, the school board and the teachers have had a very respectful relationship. The contract that is ending has pay rates tied to a formula in relationship to the CPI or less, so the district can stay at or below monies received in taxes. I assume that the district will continue this philosophy which could mean modest increases in pay and/or benefits.
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?
Well I guess one has to understand what one's thoughts are in regards to substantial. When I first started on the board 15 years ago, top administrators in Illinois schools could receive as much as a 20% increase in each of their last four years of service to a district. Now that was substantial and excessive! At some point that was all changed by law, but Benjamin District #25 has never had a superintendent retire. All of our bright, highly qualified and talented superintendents have always moved to a larger and higher paying school district to end their careers. I could certainly get behind increasing a long time superintendent's pay a reasonable amount over the last four years of their contract if they were productive, resourceful, inventive, helped bring student test score up, helped attain national notoriety to the district and its schools, kept the facilities updated and conducive to an excellent learning environment and stayed within the budgets set, etc. I would especially support this if all of that took place at a cost savings to the district.