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: Des Plaines
Office sought: Des Plaines Elementary District 62 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married for 21 years with 14 year old 8th grade twins, one boy and one girl.
Occupation: Director, Document Processing Center at CME Group
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Loyola University 1986
Civic involvement: Des Plaines Youth Commission - Commissioner (Treasurer) Troop 6 - Boy Scouts of America (Assistant Scout Master) Algonquin Middle School PTO - Vice President/Treasurer CCSD 62 Board Member Des Plaines Baseball - Coach Des Plaines Park District - Soccer Coach
Elected offices held: Appointed to CCSD 62 School Board in January of 2012, no other elected public offices held.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Improving the overall education of D62 students.
Key Issue 2
Promoting a positive learning environment for the students of District 62.
Key Issue 3
Helping to lead District 62 through what promises to be a fiscally challenging environment due to state budget issues, pension reform issues and current economic environment of the community.
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 think change in the education system within our country is necessary for us to compete globally in the future but I also think we need to approach this change with real and attainable short term results in mind. Sometimes mandates of this type are initiated without a clearly defined plan of how to attain these goals or in some instances fund these changes. In fact this switch could have a negative/artificial impact on overall test scores and student achievement in the short term. I am however confident that the teachers and staff of D62 will rise to the challenge and will do whatever is necessary to make sure the students are successful in the long run. As for the role the board should play in determining curriculum, I don't think it is really our responsibility to change the curriculum per se. The Superintendant, the staff and most importantly the teachers are the true professionals at this. The board is there to evaluate programs for their successes and failures, devise policy and to make funding decisions. We are basically the public's trustees to run the district, the professional educators (and D62 has some great ones) are there to determine the proper curriculum need to reach the test goals of the district, the state and the country.
How satisfied are you that your district is preparing students for the next stage in their lives, whether it be from elementary into high school or high school into college or full-time employment? What changes, if any, do you think need to be made?
As the father of twins (currently in 8th grade), who have been in D62 schools since kindergarten, I am very satisfied. That being said, could more be done? Absolutely! We have some terrific educators in the district and with the completion of the recent facility upgrades I think we have already improved the district for the next set of students. The installation of new technology alone will expose them to a whole new way of learning, researching and competing with other schools. We need to keep moving forward and make sure that we continue to provide the tools and resources necessary to make sure our kids can compete not only locally but globally in the future. I am confident that D62 is on the right track to make sure we continue to prepare our students for whatever the future holds.
What budget issues will your district have to confront and what measures do you support to address them? If you believe cuts are necessary, what programs and expenses should be reduced or eliminated? On the income side, do you support any tax increases?
The two largest issues I see are Pension Reform, and the financial crisis with the State of Illinois. From what I can see at least for the short term (2-4 years) cuts will not be necessary. The previous members of the school board have done a great job with making sure that reserve funds are available if necessary and the administration is constantly monitoring expenses. There are currently a lot of unanswered questions at the state level which present some uncertanty. If they continue to be slow in providing the mandated funding to local districts it will eventually present problems for all of the districts not just D62. Also pushing off pension responsibility to local districts could be a huge issue, the state has failed over multiple years to properly fund their portion of the pensions and now want to just push those failures off to the local districts. Obviously the state legislature is trying to figure out an equitable solution and depending on that solution, hard decisions may need to be made at the local level. In answer to your question about tax increases, I believe serious spending reform at all levels of state and local government is required prior to trying to look increasing taxes. Housing prices are down, cost of living is up and unemployment in the area is high so I don't know how much more taxing the citizens can take. I believe there is a lot of waste in state and local governments, if that can be cut and current funds pushed towards critical programs such as education then increases should not be necessary. Unfortunately this type of change is not part of the School Board's area of responsibility so we can only hope that our other elected officials take a long hard look at waste and remember that children are the future and their education should be a concern to all of us. Depending on the outcome of all of this hopefully funding can be found without the increasing of taxes.
As contract talks come up with various school employee groups, do you believe the district should ask for concessions from its employees, expect employee costs to stay about the same as they are now or provide increases in pay or benefits?
That is a rough question. Some concessions may be necessary depending on Pension Reform. I don't think any district in the state is in a position to fully take over the pension payments and the deficit the state has already created. Depending on what happens at the state level some type of concession may be necessary. That being said, I am most concerned with the long time employees since this is in effect changing the rules in the middle of the game. Someone just entering the work force has many years to plan and fund their retirement while people 5, 10 or even 20 years away from retirement don't have the same luxury. I personally believe that needs to be taken into consideration. As a relative newcomer to the board I have not had the priveledge of being involved in these types of negotiations in the past so I have a feeling this may be a real learning experience.
If your district had a superintendent or other administrator nearing retirement, would you support a substantial increase in his or her pay to help boost pension benefits? Why or why not?
No, from what I have seen we are more than fair with the compensation we are currently paying the staff. I believe that the pension benefits currently being offered are also more than fair and the staff is being adequately rewarded at their current levels. To put anymore stress on an already underfunded pension system would be irresponsible on our part.