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updated: 2/22/2013 6:28 PM

Karen Osmanski: Candidate Profile

Elk Grove Township District 59 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: Des Plaines

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Elk Grove Township District 59 School Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 60

Family: Married, two children

Occupation: Retired educator(teacher and administrator) from CCSD59.

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Northeastern Illinois University, 1974 Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, Concordia University, 1995 Illinois Type 75 Educational Administration, Northeastern Illinois University, 2000

Civic involvement: Currently serving on the Executive Board of the Community Character Coalition of Elk Grove

Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

This is a challenging time in the field of education. Funding has been reduced. There is an increase in state and federal mandates that districts/schools need to respond to, and the needs of the community are ever changing. School districts must be well informed to make both short term and long term strategic decisions to address the immediate needs as well as being prepared for the future. I look forward to serving on a team that dedicates its efforts and energies to keeping children first and foremost in the decision making process.

Key Issue 2

As the needs of our community changes, school districts must be prepared to address the needs of families, parents and students. Districts are challenged to address and support the social/emotional needs of families. A school district cannot provide this support alone. Therefore we must continue to grow partnerships with other groups and agencies in our community.

Key Issue 3

Candidate did not respond.

Questions & Answers

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 fully support the shift to the Common Core Standards as it demonstrates a commitment to preparing students for their future. The content is rich and rigorous with a strong emphasis on higher level thinking and require students to demonstrate learning through performance based assessments. These Standards provide the path for our students to be career and college ready. Since the Board of Education plays a strategic role in the school district, the Board needs to support administrators in putting processes in place to ensure all staff understand the Common Core Standards, as these Standards are the curriculum for each content area. Any changes to the current curriculum should come after an in-depth analysis and comparison between the current curriculum content and skills and the content and skills embedded within the Common Core Standards. Teaching and learning must be aligned to the Common Core. The Board of Education needs to ensure this alignment when approving the purchase of new textbooks and tools that support teaching and learning.

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?

Since my experience is at the elementary level, I feel each year we improve the alignment of skills, assessments and communication of each student's proficiency level between the elementary school and junior high school. This alignment ensures students are appropriately placed in classes and will receive the support they need at the start of junior high. I feel it would be beneficial to increase cross grade level dialog between fifth and sixth grade staff and school administrators. This focused dialog could be a rich opportunity to problem solve to improve processes that are repeatable and predictable, ensuring a smooth transition for students.

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?

As an incoming, novice board member, I do not have the depth of knowledge or understanding to comment on any budget issues the District is currently dealing with. As I listen and learn, I will gain more perspective into the challenges. However, Board of Educations need to be financially responsible, while ensuring that the needs of its students are being addressed. Sometimes this doesn't mean reducing or eliminating programs or expenses. Instead, it may mean a redistribution and/or realignment of funding in order to continue to support existing programs. Through a collaborative problem solving process we will be able to assess the current situation, make recommendations for change, and then take action.

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?

As contract talks begin, we will gain perspective of the needs, expectations and requirements of each employee group. When this step is completed, the employee groups, administration and the Board of Education will then be able to problem solve to determine the best possible solutions to any issues/concerns related to budget, benefits, work environment etc. I do believe that the District 59 Board of Education, through contract talks, needs to ensure that the District can retain and attract highly qualified educators who are committed to working in a supportive culture centered on addressing the needs of its children and families.

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?

I do not believe that salaries should be substantially increased for the sole purpose of boosting an employees pension benefits. Instead, I believe that all educators receive fair and competitive compensation for their services throughout their entire career. In my opinion, teaching is the most important profession, as it prepares us for the future. Yet we do not compensate educators at the level that demonstrates and aligns to this status of importance.