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updated: 2/22/2013 6:28 PM

Sophia Chen-de Vries: Candidate Profile

Barrington Unit District 220 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



City: Tower Lakes

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Barrington Unit District 220 School Board (4-year Terms)

Age: Candidate did not respond.

Family: I have been married for 16 years and we have one son who is 8 years old.

Occupation: I work for a non-for-profit agency, Home of the Sparrow, Inc. in McHenry. It is a transitional housing shelter for homeless women and moms and their children. I am the Volunteer Program Manager for the past 5 years.

Education: I earned my B.A. in Social Science with a minor in Education and Comparative Culture from the University of California, Irvine. I also have a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language and Counseling and Interpersonal Skills from UCI.

Civic involvement: Trustee, Village of Tower Lakes for the past 8 years. Member of Tower Lakes Police Committee for the past 8 years. Den Leader for cub scouts Pack 229 for the past 2 years. Volunteer and member at St. Anne's Catholic Church for the past 14 years. Chaired and served on many committees in the Tower Lakes Homeowners Improvement Association.

Elected offices held: Trustee, Village of Tower Lakes, 2004-present

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

As a resident and parent of a child in District 220, my main campaign issue is continuing the academic excellence of our school district so that homeowners continue to choose to live in Barrington and our children continue to receive the best education that surpasses other districts.

Key Issue 2

Another campaign issue is to see that the school district is being fiscally responsible in meeting students, teachers and administrators needs and taxpayers concerns.

Key Issue 3

Candidate did not respond.

Questions & Answers

How do you think District 220 has handled budgetary pressures in recent years? Amid the uncertainties of outside funding sources, are there ways the district could be more in control of its own destiny?

As a Trustee, I am aware of the delicate balance of budgeting infrastructure, social responsibility, and public services needed for our community. Excess public spending can occur unnoticed at any branch of our school services. Some services may appear to residents to have too high of a budget, while other offerings seem underfunded. Our services were established over decades with vigorous public debate and with thorough thought process. The school board has the difficult mandate to challenge every branch of our system annually. No budgetary item can be excluded from a reevaluation to see whether the test of time and change may render a service to be obsolete or altered for better effeciency. Balancing the budget every year is not enough. We have to be willing to challenge the old for new opportunities and see if they are adequate for our future and ever changing technology.

How should the district balance the providing of unique programs or classes with being fiscally conservative?

For our community, one of the major concerns is the safety of our families and home values. With the economy making a slow recovery, home values will continue to rise slowly. One of the main reasons families have moved to Barrington has been for our school district's high academic reputation. Property values are directly dependent upon our academic achievements forged in school district 220. One cannot thrive without the other. The ever expanding competitive landscape in the Chicagoland and US education requires us to reach for ever higher standards. We need to offer an education that cannot be compared to other school districts and we need to offer unique choices that students cannot receive in any other school district. Our teachers need to continue to be superb and our test scores need to continue to excel. Our school district needs to stand out in order to attract residents to move to and continue to live in Barrington. Offering unique programs and classes and ensuring our test scores remain competitive for colleges is what the students need.

How would you define the ideal working relationship between a school board and its administrators and teachers? To what degree does your school district represent this relationship now?

As in any relationship, I believe the ideal working one would be to have an open, respectful and honest dialog at all times. I believe the school district does strive to accomplish this ideal. Observing them at school board meetings, I see each member working hard to communicate and address the concerns and needs of parents and students. Having been a public servant as a Trustee, I also understand that there are rules and regulations to follow in open and closed session meetings. Not all discussions are privy to the public.

Do you see a present need for redrawing the school boundaries? If so, explain where the need is and how you would go about it. If no at present, will there be a need in the future?

My understanding is at this time there is not a need of redrawing the school boundaries. This need may change as enrollment numbers change. The district is showing a trend of declining enrollment in the next several years. As enrollment numbers change, redrawing of boundaries may be necessary to run more efficient operations of our schools. For example, if enrollment is low at one elementary school, but classroom sizes are an issue in another elementary school then balancing overall classroom size should be looked at.

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 have been adopted by 45 out of our 50 states. This is the standard that our country is striving for in order to compete with other countries. The board of education should work closely with our educators in embracing these new standards and developing ways to incorporate them to further excel our academic excellence. Our children's new math program is a good step towards focusing on students? analytical and logical thinking skills. Finding ways to enhance these skills for reading and science will better prepare our students for higher education and success in their life endeavors.