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Article updated: 2/22/2013 6:28 PM

Margaret McGrath: Candidate Profile

Maine Township High School District 207 School Board (4-year Terms)

Margaret McGrath, running for Maine Township High School District 207 School Board (4-year Terms)

Margaret McGrath, running for 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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Park Ridge

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Maine Township High School District 207 School Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 54

Family: Married, three children

Occupation: Attorney

Education: B.S. in Mathematics, cum laude, Loyola University, 1995 B.A. in Economics, cum laude, Loyola University, 1995 Juris Doctor, summa cum laude, The John Marshall Law School, 2004 LL.M. Employee Benefits Law with honors, The John Marshall Law School, 2004

Civic involvement: Center of Concern, Board Member, 2005-2010 The John Marshall Law School Alumni Association, Board Member, 2005-2010 District 64 Elementary Learning Foundation, 2000-2002 Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, Insurance Committee, Community Member, 2005-present

Elected offices held: Board Member, Maine Township High School District 207, 2009-present

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

We must remain focused on providing an excellent education for all current and future students.

Key Issue 2

We must build a culture of respect and personal accountability for all employees and students.

Key Issue 3

Although an unknown, we must prepare for the possibility that the State of Illinois will push pension fund liabilities to individual school districts.

Questions & Answers

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

Hazing is not condoned by District 207 but some traditions and practices that could constitute hazing have lurked in the shadows. The district must be proactive and shine a spotlight on those traditions and practices. It must help all stakeholders, including board members, administrators, teachers, coaches, other staff, students, and parents, recognize behavior can rise to the level of hazing and what they must do when they are aware of such behavior. The District should have ongoing training for all employees and students. There should be a way to report an issue anonymously and it should be available to everyone. I would propose that any potential hazing issue be investigated by a dedicated team that includes at least one person from each school. Finally, the District must consistently discipline those who foster or promote any kind of hazing, whether they do it actively by participating in the hazing or inactively by ignoring a practice they should know is wrong, because every member of the staff and all of the students have a responsibility for making District 207 a safe place to learn.

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

It is possible to imagine a circumstance in which I would support deficit spending, for example, the State of Illinois pushing pension liabilities to the District that had to be met over a short period of time so that it could not meet its mission of providing an excellent education. Additionally, I could support deficit spending if it would not negatively impact classroom programs, extracurricular activities, or District infrastructure over the long term. We must use fund balances wisely and deficit spend only when we are sure we can still fulfill the mission of the District and meet long term goals. Therefore, I will not support draining the fund balances for short term popularity. The District fund balances belong to both current and future taxpayers, to home owners who bought a house in the district because of the great schools and want great schools to be there when they sell their house so it maintains its value. They belong to students, current and future, all of whom should get the best education we can provide in safe and well maintained schools.

Should the district tie teacher salary increases to CPI?

During the last negotiations, we tied salary increases in the third year to CPI. For years one and two, we negotiated a change in the basic structure of how we pay teachers, moving all of the teachers in District 207 to a longer step schedule. The new step schedule still has guaranteed annual increases that continue to recognize teacher growth based on experience, but those steps are smaller and move the District toward a more sustainable structure that is fair to both taxpayers and teachers and that allows us to continue to recruit and retain the best teachers possible.

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 health clinic at Maine East is available to all students in District 207 and there has been increased use of the clinic by students from both South and West over the last few years. I support the health clinic and think it is a valuable addition to the services we provide to students in the District. Any expansion to provide services on the South or West campus should wait until we can gauge the impact of the Affordable Care Act and the implementation of the health insurance exchanges.

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 standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students should be learning and will help all schools be sure they are on track to educate students for the future. A common standard is important so that elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools all have the same playbook. Students that come to District 207 will have had the same expectations no matter what elementary school or middle school they attended and that will allow for more consistent curriculum development across the District. That development should be left to the professionals, the educators the board hires to do that job. The board should provide direction and goals but it should not micromanage. As a board, we should monitor progress, ask questions, make sure we get answers about why achievement is not at the level we expect, and require action not excuses. We must hold administration accountable for achieving the goals set forth for them but we must give them the autonomy they need to do their jobs.

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