Karen Nejdl: Candidate Profile
Mount Prospect District 57 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.
City: Mount Prospect
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Mount Prospect District 57 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: married to Bruce, 3 children: Jeff 17, Katie 15, Matt 13
Occupation: Registered Nurse
Education: Bachelor of Science Nursing, Elmhurst College 1988 Masters in Public Administration, Roosevelt University 1999
Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.
Elected offices held: Mount Prospect School District 57 School Board, 2009-present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: no
Key Issue 1
District 57 needs to remain fiscally responsible to its constituents.
Key Issue 2
The district needs to continue to negotiate and implement contracts that are responsible and fair while keeping in mind the three main stakeholders: the employees in the bargaining unit, the district and the taxpayers.
Key Issue 3
The district needs to support and implement common core standards so that student success and achievement can be maintained and improved.
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?
As is common in many areas, educators have found that the shift to common core standards will benefit students by clarifying what they need to know within each subject area. It does take some work on behalf of the teachers and administrators to make this shift but I think that as the process is implemented and unfolds, it will provide a standard for all students in their knowledge base as they advance through their educational years. Personally, I am not an educator and have full confidence that the administrators in place will make the necessary changes in current curriculum as needed to meet the goals of common core standards. The board of education needs to know the basis for the changes and be able to address those changes in policy to support the new curriculum. We also need to be cognizant of any professional development time or resources that are needed for implementation of this process.
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?
District 57 teachers and administrators work with the schools at the next level to ensure smooth transitions within the district and at the transition from 8th grade level to high school. I think that the students overall do well at these transition points. I also believe that this consistently needs to be monitored. My greatest concern is that the middle school curriculum matches well with the high school curriculum. The district needs to be very conscious that what is taught in middle school is a stepping stone to high school curriculum.
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 budget is always a concern. There are many changes within the state at any given time that necessitates the district to change its budget plan. The district made some painful budget cuts in 2011 in the form of certified teacher layoffs, changes in the fine arts music programming and support staff layoffs. At this point, the only additional reduction in expenses would be the elimination of programming which is not best for the students of our district. As taxpayers are probably aware, the district had some unexpected one-time income last fiscal year that increased our current fund balances. I think that the approach the board and administration is taking with a careful spend down of those balances is the best approach. This is an area that needs to be very carefully monitored. At this point in time, there is no need for a tax increase.
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 come forward, I think that the district needs to carefully evaluate its financial and performance situation and negotiate under those terms. Costs in many areas continue to rise in relation to health insurance costs and the unknown direction of the pension costs to the district and/or employee. Each contract with each bargaining unit is negotiated with the most up to date information and under the best of intentions for the employees and the district on behalf of the taxpayers.
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 would not support any increase in an administrator's pay to help boost his or her pension benefits. This practice rests on the backs of taxpayers. The years of service and credible earnings should be the basis of any administrator's pension.
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