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updated: 2/22/2013 6:28 PM

Eric Leys: Candidate Profile

Maine Township High School District 207 School Board (2-year Term) (Independent)

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  • Eric Leys, running for Maine Township High School District 207 School Board (2-year Term)

    Eric Leys, running for Maine Township High School District 207 School Board (2-year Term)




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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Des Plaines


Office sought: Maine Township High School District 207 School Board (2-year Term)

Age: 33

Family: Unmarried. My immediate family all resides within the northwest suburban area. My father is a retired mathematics teacher from Maine East High School and my mother is Register Nurse working in a corporate environment.

Occupation: General Sales Manager at Acura of Libertyville in Libertyville, Illinois and have worked there since 2001. Acura of Libertyville employs over 80 associates and generates in excess of $44,000,000 annually.

Education: I am a graduate of Maine West High School (1998), I have completed some college coursework.

Civic involvement: Executive Board Member, ED-RED; Park Ridge, Illinois 2004 - present Chair - North Cook Division, Illinois Association of School Boards; Springfield, Illinois 2009 - present Chair - Joint Review Board - TIF District 5, City of Des Plaines; Des Plaines, Illinois 2006

Elected offices held: Member, Board of Education, Maine Township High School District 207; Park Ridge, Illinois 2001 - present President, Board of Education, Maine Township High School District 207; Park Ridge, Illinois 2005 - 2007 Chair - Finance Committee, Board of Education, Maine Township High School District 207; Park Ridge, Illinois 2010 - present Elected Alternate Delegate Committed to Mitt Romney; 10th Congressional District, Illinois 2012

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

My first campaign issue relates to expanding educational opportunity for students. I firmly believe that in order to ensure that the community's educational needs are provided for well into the future, we must be very prudent with our use of taxpayer dollars today. It is also important that we continue to focus on not only college readiness (very important), but also career readiness for those students that are not necessarily college-bound. The strength of our educational program is determined by the opportunities that we provide for our students.

Key Issue 2

My second campaign issue relates to fiscal responsibility. If a school district becomes insolvent (this is a reality in present day in some parts of Illinois and our nation), then a school board and community thus lose all ability to fulfill the educational needs of students in any respect whatsoever. We have learned in recent years that our Illinois State government is especially inept at handling the people's money, even when handed a significant tax increase--and it would be folly for any school district to follow suit. I think that it is essential that we are respectful of the taxpayers of our community by ensuring that dollars are used wisely and efficiently, that expenditures are regularly reduced and cut when appropriate, and that significant reserves are in place to avoid the need for short-term borrowing at great expense to the taxpayers. I also believe that it is essential that tax increases are avoided in this current economic climate when households are dealing with significantly lower property values juxtaposed to property tax increases.

Key Issue 3

My third campaign issue related to preparing for the future. In 2005, I served as Chairman of Strategic Planning for DIstrict 207. I am pleased to say that we achieved an overwhelming majority of goals contained in that Strategic Plan, and investigated and analyzed every single idea brought forth by the 100+ participants. Now finishing my twelfth year on the Board of Education, I believe that time has come to to fashion a new Strategic Plan for a new age in District 207. I put forward this proposal knowing full well that some current colleagues on the Board may not agree, or wish to stall such action. But I know that our community and our students demand forward thinking to effectively prepare our school district for the future.

Questions & Answers

What, specifically, can the school board do to prevent hazing at its schools?

The School Board's primary responsibility with respect to this charge is two-fold, (1) setting policy and (2) hiring the Superintendent. Our policy is explicitly clear: We do not allow hazing in Maine 207. It is the responsibility of our Superintendent, and his staff, to execute this policy fully. To the extent that this policy has not been followed in District 207, it is the Board's responsibility to determine what went wrong, how it could have been prevented, and who among our staff is responsible for any failing. The Board of Education takes it's responsibility in this area to students and taxpayers very seriously and as would be the case with any significant issue, swift yet careful action has and will be taken that fulfills our basic responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for students.

Would you ever support deficit spending in a District 207 budget? How can the district keep its finances healthy going forward?

As Chairman of the Board of Education's Finance Committee, I was involved in writing, and shepherding to approval by the full Board of Education, Maine 207's first everBalanced Budget Policy.? I believe firmly that any government entity must live within its means. That said, I could foresee some scenarios where deficit spending would be appropriate, if it planned deficit spending for the purpose of (a) lowering taxes, (b) drawing down reserves for a capital improvement project, or (c) drawing down reserves via a planned tax abatement. I would not support, under any circumstances, deficit spending due to structural expenses that will occur year after year, or for the purpose of increasing salaries.

Should the district tie teacher salary increases to CPI?

I believe that we have many fine educators in Maine 207 and they are owed a fair and competitive wage in recognition of their professionalism, ability, education, and observed outcomes. I firmly believe that our teachers have well exceeded the aforementioned threshold of appropriate pay and since we are thus situation, increases in the next 3-5 years should be primarily tied to a well thought-out Merit Pay component, as I have been advocating for four years now.

Discuss the health clinic at Maine East. Are you satisfied with how it is working? Should the idea be expanded to West or South?

The Maine East health clinic is a specific solution to a very specific problem. Each of our three schools is very unique. Maine East's incredibly diverse population, with a very high mobility rate, and significant numbers of new immigrants to the United States without established access to health care. In order for students to learn, they must be healthy. Lack of access to healthcare and familiarity with the US healthcare system once proved to be a major obstacle for many students at Maine East. Thanks to the health center, this issue has been greatly diminished. I do not believe that the specific circumstances that exist within the Maine South or Maine West communities warrant a health center in-school at this time.

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 believe that it is the Board of Education's responsibility to ensure that a top quality education is provided and to monitor achievement of this goal, and specifically student readiness, through a variety of objective criteria. I believe that it is the Administration's responsibility to set the curriculum and demonstrate the effectiveness of the decisions--through data--to the Board of Education. I believe that the shift to common core standards provides challenges, as well as opportunities. The Board of Education is receiving regular updates from the Administration on this topic and Maine 207 continues to take a leadership role in Curriculum and Instruction. As Chair of the Illinois Association of School Board's North Cook Division, I have been involved in planning the Spring Dinner meeting for our members (39 school districts) that focuses on Common Core. The meeting will be held at Maine West High School on March 20.