James Novak: Candidate Profile
Keeneyville District 20 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.
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Keeneyville District 20 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, two children
Education: Bachelor of Science in Management, Northern IL Univ 1984 Masters of Business Administration, Roosevelt Univ 19
Civic involvement: Knights of Columbus-Pope John Council 5732 Teacher Assistant-St. Walter School of Religion
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
The Budget-District 20 has done a wonderful job keeping a balanced budget through this difficult economy. The decisions they had to make were at times not popular with the students or parents. The State of Illinois has been late in making payments to the school districts for current programs. The current legislative session could bring additional financial burden to District 20. I just want to make sure the money we do receive goes to programs that will benefit the most students.
Key Issue 2
Technology-The District needs to embrace new technology and incorporate them into their curriculum. For example,they have already installed the Promethean boards in the classrooms. These interactive boards keep the students attention and it makes learning fun. As a result, the students retain what they learned. The district needs to make these type of tools available to the students and teachers.
Key Issue 3
Bullying-Bullying can threaten students? physical and emotional safety at school. It can also impact their ability to learn. The district has done a great job about informing the students of the effects of bullying. Sad to say, it's still being done. We must find new ways to educate the students about bullying. The teachers must also be educated to know what the rules are and be ready to enforce them. We must make the students feel safe at school.
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 switch to the common core standards is a step in the right direction. I like the idea that everyone school will be judged by the same standards. It will allow teachers throughout the state to share teaching strategies that work or fail. It will also make the student develop a higher level of thinking skills which will help them in high school, college and beyond. It might be a little hard for the earlier grades to adjust since they will have to learn at a quicker pace. This is why it is important that the teachers, principal and school board work together to develop curriculums that help the children achieve the desired results.
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 very satisfied on how are district is preparing students for the future. I have one daughter that is in high school and she has adjusted very well. My other daughter is in 5th grade and is doing well both socially and academically. We had good rapport with most of their teachers. The only change would be to incorporate the new technology into the classrooms. Children are comfortable using computers, smart phones, IPads etc. District 20 needs to look for ways to bring this technology into the classroom as one tool to help the students learn and prepare them for the future.
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?
It all depends on Springfield. The State of Illinois has been late in making payments to the school districts for current programs. The current legislative session could bring additional financial burden to District 20. The district needs to know what impact the additional obligation will have on the budget and what steps are needed to keep our budget balanced. If cuts are necessary, it must be done with the least impact to the students. If it requires a tax increase, it must be justified.
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?
District 20 just agreed to a new contract with the teachers. As a parent, I was glad there was a settlement without a strike. The administration, union and teachers all worked together to reached an agreement that benefited both sides. I have no idea what the state of our district will be when this contract expires. Everyone needs to continue to work together during the current contract so the trust will be there when the next contract is negotiated.
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. Administrator's pay should be based on performance and not his retirement age. I understand their is a state law that makes local school districts pay the extra pension costs for end of career raises over 6%. With districts struggling to balance their budgets, the substantial costs could go for programs that would benefit many instead of just one.
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