Carla Owen: Candidate Profile
Maine Township High School District 207 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.
City: Park Ridge
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Maine Township High School District 207 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married; two children
Education: B.S. in Psychology, University of Illinois, Champaign, 1984 J.D., Loyola University of Illinois, 1990
Civic involvement: District 207 Community Advisory Council District 64 Strategic Planning Committee District 64 Kindergarten Review Committee PTO, Emerson Middle School PTO Officer, Field Elementary School Chairperson, Park Ridge Senior Services, Inc. Executive Board, St. Paul of the Cross Apostolate of Women Park Ridge Juniors, former member Pro Bono Attorney, Catholic Charities
Elected offices held: none
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
I would like District 207 to be innovative in providing an excellent education to all of our students. I believe that the District needs to be progressive to prepare our students for the challenges they will face after they leave high school.
Key Issue 2
I would like the District to find ways to create more parity within the District. All three of our schools are very good in their own ways, but I would like to see more similar results in test scores and other measures by which the students are evaluated.
Key Issue 3
The District must carefully plan to face the financial challenges that are likely to come as a result of the fiscal problems in the state of Illinois. As much as possible, any steps the District takes to address those problems should not negatively impact our students and the education we offer to them.
What, specifically, can the school board do to prevent hazing at its schools?
Hazing cannot be tolerated anywhere in the District. The District has had policies and procedures in place for a number of years to prevent hazing but because of the Maine West situation, more needs to be done to ensure that our students feel safe in school and in their extracurricular activities throughout the District. The Board has hired an independent investigator to look into the scope and extent of the hazing that occurred, and to determine whether the staff and administration were diligent in addressing hazing. The administration has also hired consultants to train teachers and coaches to recognize and prevent hazing, and has instituted programs to educate students as well. A hotline is being established to encourage reporting of hazing and other concerns. The administration, with Board support, must enforce the rules against hazing consistently and strictly. Finally, the rules about hazing have to be reinforced in the future. We can't just deal with the issue now, and forget about it in the future.
Would you ever support deficit spending in a District 207 budget? How can the district keep its finances healthy going forward?
Careful planning in the past has put the District in good shape financially. There is a great deal of uncertainty right now in Illinois, however, because of pension liabilities and the financial situation of the state in general. The state could shift the burden for funding pensions back to the school districts, or could reduce education funding. Also, our schools are aging, and capital projects and repairs will need to be paid for over the coming years. It is important to plan for the likely fallout from our state's financial problems and for capital projects that will need to be addressed in the future. At the same time, I think it is important for the District to live within its means, with an eye toward eliminating costs when doing so does not negatively impact student learning.
Should the district tie teacher salary increases to CPI?
The current collective bargaining agreement in fact ties salary increases to CPI. This seems like a reasonable way for the District to work within its revenue stream.
Discuss the health clinic at Maine East. Are you satisfied with how it is working? Should the idea be expanded to West or South?
As a member of the District 207 Community Advisory Council, I had the opportunity to tour and learn about the health clinic at Maine East. I was impressed by what the clinic does and how many students it serves. I think it is a great asset within the District. As far as it being expanded to Maine West or Maine South, the clinic is actually open to all students in the District. I am not aware of a need for a clinic at the other schools, but if that were an issue, the costs of starting and running another clinic or clinics would have to be considered.
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?
In principle, establishing these standards to ensure learning is a good thing. Because the common core standards are just beginning to be implemented, it is too early to decide whether the shift will have the intended results, which is to make our students more prepared for the world after high school, whether they go on to college or to a trade. It's important to make sure the District continues to encourage and expect teachers to be creative and innovative. They should create a rich learning environment while they are teaching the common core standards. This might require us to invest more in their training and other support, but it would be a worthwhile investment. The Board's primary role is to oversee the Superintendent in the performance of his duties, and to establish and enforce policy for the District on a variety of issues, taking into account the goals and mission statement of the District. Decisions about curriculum should for the most part be vested in the administration. I would like the District to consider different scheduling options for students, because I think our schedule is antiquated, and there are better models out there.
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