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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: Roselle District 12 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, three children
Occupation: CEO, Action for Healthy Kids (national school health nonprofit organization)
Education: MA in Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia (1997) BS in Accounting, University of Illinois (1994)
Civic involvement: #NAME?
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
First, we in Roselle School District 12 are lucky. Our public schools are excellent places for our children to learn and grow. I have been very impressed by the quality of the district and school staff members I have met. Therefore, as a board member, one of my top priorities would be to ensure that the educational outcomes for students in District 12 remain stellar and are improved whenever possible. In doing so, I would seek to ensure that my children and those of all Roselle District 12 residents have the very best educational opportunities presented to them. In this regard, test scores are important, but they are only one indicator of our schools' success. Therefore, as a school board member, I would work to ensure that our kids are given opportunities to become well rounded people who understand the world in which we live and can thrive in it. For example, I would like to see the district more seriously consider a foreign language program that could help our kids both learn new languages and understand other cultures. Other communities offer these kinds of growth opportunities to their children, and I believe that our kids deserve the very best opportunities as well. This is just one example of the kinds of programs that appear to be affordable for our community and directly related to the mission of our schools.
Key Issue 2
Our schools must ensure the safety and health of our children. I believe there are two sets of inter-related issues here. First, as recent events have shown, our world can be a very dangerous one for even our youngest students. Therefore, a top priority is to ensure that Roselle schools are equipped with best-practice equipment, systems and environments to ensure that our kids are safe from the moment they leave for school in the morning until they return home. As a Board member, I would consider it my responsibility to help the Board stay on top of new developments that could impact the safety of our schools and ensure appropriate action is taken, when necessary. Second, research now has shown that healthy students are more academically successful. Therefore, I believe it is the responsibility of our Board to ensure that our schools are developing and implementing high quality school health programs that meet the needs of all children. As the CEO of a national nonprofit organization dedicated to healthy schools and children, I have witnessed how schools have improved their educational outcomes by improving their school health programs. With this experience in mind, last year, I approached Spring Hills Principal Kaese to establish a school wellness committee, and we have done so together. In the coming years, I would like to see the school health program grow and contribute in even greater ways to the district's core mission.
Key Issue 3
Continued wise financial stewardship is my third campaign issue. These are very difficult times for schools. I believe it is important because our financial decisions impact both the success of our students and the quality of our community, which is tightly tied to the success of our schools. Just like every district, Roselle School District 12 has limited financial resources. Therefore, we need to make smart decisions on how we dedicate our funds. I believe my career experience as a CEO and my background in accounting afford me unique skills to understand the district's financial position and to help make wise decisions on behalf of our students and their families.
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?
Since I believe that our public schools are great equalizers, offering opportunities for growth to all children regardless of socio-economic status, I understand the value of Common Core Standards. According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, Common Core Standards "provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them." With this concept in mind, I believe they are good public policy. Of course, as Illinois schools begin full implementation of the standards during the 2013-2014 school year, I am certain there will be challenges presented to school boards and staff alike. The key to successful implementation will, therefore, be how our board and our district's board members and professional educators collaborate to ensure that the standards are met in a way that is best for our students and communities. In terms of curriculum setting, I believe the school board needs a strong partnership with our professional educators to ensure optimal curriculum. I am not an expert with respect to curriculum development, and it would be premature for me to make any statements about our curriculum until I have the opportunity to join the board, hear from my colleagues and educational professionals, and conduct my own research to understand the unique set of opportunities and challenges for our students. If I am elected, I pledge to do all of the above and become an active member of the board when it comes to these issues.
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?
Generally speaking, I believe that our district does an excellent job of preparing our students academically and otherwise. I am impressed not only with our test scores but also the annual planning, monitoring and evaluation that the district conducts to ensure optimal outcomes. Of course, there is always room for improvement. In terms of changes, please see my answers above in the sections about my top three campaign issues.
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?
According to the district's most recent audited financial statements, the balance of unrestricted net assets is more than $1 million. Therefore, in the short term, I don't currently believe the district will experience financial difficulties. However, the district has experienced deficits in recent years and has been forced to use surplus funds to address them. Moreover, the district's last annual report states, "Though we have a reserve for the future, it is dwindling." Therefore, there are going to be some tough decisions made in the coming years. This financial pressure is not unique to our district, but it must be addressed in the near term. Before a complete financial analysis is conducted, it would be premature for me to speculate about the measures that need to be taken to address these financial issues. However, if I am elected as a Board member, I would work with my colleagues to ensure that a deficit reduction plan is in place, when necessary, and that the overall financial condition of our district remains strong for many years to come.
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 would depend on the specific scenario. However, I can say that resources for our schools are precious and all proposed expenditures should be reviewed critically. Due to my accounting background, I believe I am especially qualified to support the district in making the tough decisions and ensuring that our limited resources produce the greatest outcomes for our kids, families, residents of our community, and school employees. Since our teachers contract expires in 2013, there will certainly be important issues to address with respect to our professional educators.
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 believe that pay increases should be strictly merit based and would not support an increase specifically to help boost pension benefits.