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.
Office sought: Barrington Unit District 220 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married to Brian Farley, proud parents of four children
Occupation: I recently left my career as a business executive and attorney to focus on my family. I am focused on supporting my four young children's educational journey and instilling strong personal values for their daily lives.
Education: Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctorate, Louisiana State University
Civic involvement: Member of Barrington Unit School District 220 Enrollment Monitoring Committee, Member of Hough Street School PTO, former President of Toastmasters, former member of Board of Chicago Boys & Girls Club and POWER Networking for Women
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
District 220 must be much more proactive to ensure the State does not push its financial problems down to residents and taxpayers in District 220. Currently the State funds teacher pension plans but leaders in Springfield are considering forcing local school boards to underwrite them. School boards do not have the capital to do this. If this proposal isn't stopped, taxes for all of us would increase immediately. The School Board must ensure the state does not push its financial problems on District 220. As former Vice President of Government Affairs for a Fortune 50 company and Legal Counsel on Capitol Hill, I have the knowledge and experience to assist the School Board with this looming issue.
Key Issue 2
The District 220 School Board is made up of a diverse group of bright and engaged citizens; however, there are no attorneys on the Board. As an attorney, I have over 15 years of experience negotiation contracts; reviewing federal and state legislation; and creating strategies relating to legal issues. My experience would add value to the School Board.
Key Issue 3
I am a product of public schools and am proud of my achievements. A successful public school system is vital to a prosperous community. I know firsthand how a vibrant school system can attract families to a community. My husband and I chose to live in the Barrington area because the schools are ranked among the best in the state. As a citizen of Barrington and a parent of four children who will be in the School District for the next two decades, I am committed to continuing the level of excellence provided by District 220 schools.
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?
Like many school districts in Illinois, District 220 has made difficult choices during these challenging financial times. The Board deserves credit for its hard work in continuing to balance the budget each year. As a result, District 220 continues to receive the AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor's financial rating service. The Board must continue maintaining a balanced budget. However, District 220 must be much more proactive in securing state funding for its teacher pension plans. As stated above, the state has threatened to push funding of teacher pension plans to the local school districts. This would be devastating to our community. As an experienced government affairs professional, I can help District 220 better control its own destiny by helping to prevent the state's efforts to push its financial problems onto local school boards.
How should the district balance the providing of unique programs or classes with being fiscally conservative?
District 220 offers top programs that must continue to thrive. The District has many innovative offerings, including the broad curriculum at Barrington High School, gifted and talented programs, and foreign language programs. It is programs like these, coupled with the overall excellence we see in District 220 schools, that make living in the District highly desirable. This is good for property values and produces top-tier graduates who often return to the area and contribute to the betterment of the community. Being fiscally conservative is important but does not necessarily mean making cuts to unique programs. District 220 must continue evaluating all programs to continue to maintain a balanced budget.
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?
My mother was a public school teacher for twenty years and a public school principal for twenty years. She recently retired from a very successful career. She taught me the importance of having a unified team working toward the same goal. The School Board, its administrators and its teachers are members of the same team with one goal: to provide the best education possible for our children. It is essential that the School Board, administrators, and teachers respect each other, both professionally and as individuals and respect their differing roles and responsibilities. It is the School Board's job to ensure administrators and teachers have the tools necessary to provide an excellent education for our students. The relationships between District 220 teachers, administrators, and School Board members are strained right now because of the impasse in the teacher contract negotiations. It is my hope that the parties will stay focused on providing the best education possible for our children while they continue to work through their differences. After the negotiations are complete, all parties must move forward as part of the same team.
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?
As a member of the District 220 Enrollment Monitoring Committee, I review the school enrollment numbers on an annual basis. I do not see a present need to redraw school boundaries. There could be a need in the future to redraw boundaries when the economy is better and more homes are built in the area. If that were to occur, as a member of the School Board, I would gather input from the community and create a clear, thoughtful process for considering any changes. I would support calling on the community volunteers in the Enrollment Monitoring Committee to help draft a community-based proposal.
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 have talked to several of our excellent teachers and administrators about how the shift to core curriculum has impacted their work. I understand District 220 has been in the process of incorporating core standards for the past three years. The shift to common core standards brings unity to what our students are learning. District 220 students will continue to exceed national and state standards. District 220 will continue providing an excellent foundation for our students. Experts in the field of education, including administrators and teachers, must be involved in setting the day-to-day curriculum for our students. The Board of Education should provide the best resources possible to allow the best teachers and administrators to excel in their jobs and provide the best education possible for our children. I am often amazed at how tech-savvy my young children are. The young minds of today are utilizing more technology than most parents. I support integrating technology into the curriculum to stay relevant in these rapidly changing times.