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: Itasca District 10 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, four children
Occupation: Director of Research and Assessment Elmhurst District 205
Education: BS Teaching of Chemistry, University of Illinois MSEd Instructional Technology, Northern Illinois University MSEd Educational Leadership, Northeastern Illinois University
Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.
Elected offices held: Itasca District 10 School Board, 2007-present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: Candidate did not respond.
Key Issue 1
Balancing our budget
Key Issue 2
Creating an environment where our teachers and administrators can continue to provide the level of service we have in the past to our students, parents, and community
Key Issue 3
Communicating the accomplishments of District 10 to our entire 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?
The Common Core State Standards are a significant step forward for Illinois. They replace a set of standards that forced schools to teach a little bit of everything each year with a directive that we will be more focused and allow them to teach fewer topics in more depth. The transition to the new standards also allows states to take advantage of an economy of scale in our accountability measures. Rather than each state spending the time and money to develop its own assessment, states are now working together to develop a common assessment that all will share. One of the roles of the Board is to approve the district's curriculum and materials that support it, but the Board needs to be careful in this area. Even with the transition to the Common Core our schools are still mandated by Illinois School Code to teach a very long list of special topics. These topics were added by well meaning legislators who had a special interest in some aspect of history, the arts, or some other issue and managed to pass legislation requiring us to make it a part of what we teach. If the Board does not exercise some restraint in adding to our curriculum, it would be easy to increase this burden with our own individual interests. We have outstanding teachers and administrators in Itasca that continually evaluate our curriculum based on the performance of our students. As a Board we expect them to bring changes to us when their analyses indicate that it is needed. We approve these changes when the evidence is convincing, the changes are aligned to our districts goals, and we can afford to make the change.
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?
We are one of the few districts in the county that have continued to meet the federal standards implemented by the No Child Left Behind law. Because of the efforts of a dedicated staff and supportive community we have managed to maintain a position as one of the highest performing districts in DuPage County while at the same time spending less per student than most other elementary districts.
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?
District 10 faces the same budget issues that are facing most districts. Declining financial support from the state and federal governments, uncertainty about how much the state is going to try to solve its own budget problems by passing them along to us, and a community that has been hit hard by the recession and falling home values. As a district we have already made significant cuts in an effort to bring our revenues and expenditures in line, but we find that we still need to do more. The question outlines our two options; we either make further cuts or increase our revenue through a tax increase. Further cuts will have a direct impact on the type of education that the students in Itasca are receiving. In our previous rounds of cuts we have tried to impact as few students and stay as far from the classroom as possible. We have reduced busing, cut technology, renegotiated contracts, and eliminated district support for student programs like outdoor education and the spring musical. Given our projected deficits over the next several years, the next round of cuts will have a much more direct impact on the classroom and our ability to offer a comprehensive education for our students. The alternative to this is a tax increase. The current District 10 Board has placed a referendum question on the April 9 ballot so that our community can decide the future direction of our 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?
The Board and employee groups in Itasca have always had a positive relationship. Both sides understand that our revenues are limited by the tax cap. Our teachers took a voluntary pay freeze a few years ago so that the Board would not have to cut programs that were important for our students. Both of our employee groups have negotiated contracts that tie their salaries to a fraction of the Consumer Price Index so that the district can control costs. We also have to realize that we want the best teachers in our classrooms and that salary is a consideration when a candidate considers taking a position in Itasca. Right now District 10 teachers have one of the lowest average salaries in DuPage County.
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. District 10 has begun phasing these retirement incentives out for all employees. Boosting pension benefits in this way places additional stress on the pension system.