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: Mt. Prospect
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Mount Prospect District 57 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married with 2 children, a 3rd grader and a 1st grader
Occupation: Business Manager
Education: Bachelor of Science Chemical Engineering, Georgia Tech 1993
Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.
Elected offices held: Mount Prospect School District 57 Board of Education Member since 2009; currently serving as Vice-President of the Board. MPSD 57 representative on the Board of the Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization, NSSEO, from May 2009 - August 2012.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
The district has made great strides in balancing its budget over the last few years. District 57 delivers incredible value to our community. While we receive 27% less revenue per student than the average of our five neighboring districts, our students perform highly academically while also experiencing a well-rounded education that includes fine arts and athletics. We must continue to be disciplined in our spending.
Key Issue 2
We need to monitor the impact the recent cuts in staff are having on our students' performance.
Key Issue 3
With the rollout of Common Core Standards, the new school report cards, and ISBE's waiver request from No Child Left Behind, our district is preparing for a huge shift in both what we teach our students, how their performance is measured, and how information is reported. Communicating these changes to parents and the community will also be a challenge.
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?
For many years, our district has been continuously improving our curriculum to ensure our students are mastering what the evolving standards say they should be learning. We experienced this first at a state level with Illinois Learning Standards, and now at a nearly national level with Common Core Standards. To be honest, standards like Common Core essentially remove the Board of Education from influencing curriculum directly because the curriculum is driven by the standards. However, Boards need to understand the demands of Common Core and be asking the Administration what is being done to ensure that the curriculum is adapting to meet the new standards. Boards are also responsible for ensuring that appropriate resources are available to evaluate curriculum against the standards, pilot and purchase materials, and, above all, to train teachers to use any new curriculum so our students exceed against the standards. Boards also need to understand the impact curriculum changes will have on technology and bandwidth requirements, since those items are an ever increasing part of district budgets.
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 delivers incredible value to our community. We receive 27% less revenue per student than the average of our five neighboring districts; we stretch those dollars to ensure our students perform highly academically while also experiencing a well-rounded education that includes fine arts and athletics. Our students' high performance on the iSAT exam consistently places our district in the top 2% of districts statewide. Our students' growth in reading and math as measured by the NWEA MAP test regularly exceeds the mean growth targets for each grade. In 2011, the school improvement team at Lincoln Middle School conducted a thorough study to determine how our 8th graders were doing in the transition to high school. The team gathered and analyzed data from ISAT, EXPLORE, and grade reports, information provided by PHS administration, and an electronic survey of student and parents from the previous four Lincoln graduating classes. The investigation was organized into four areas: placement, performance, and perception data to review the levels of success Lincoln students experience as they move through their high school career. The data showed that our 8th graders consistently outperform peers from other middle schools feeding into the D214 high school district.
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?
Our district has been in budget deficit reduction mode for over ten years. Two years ago, however, the financial picture was so bleak that the Board had to pursue cuts that would directly impact our students. Combining an analysis of program costs along with the results of a community survey to guide us on which programs were most highly valued, the district reduced our teaching staff by 10% in an attempt to balance our budget. Our approach to balancing the budget was to ask everyone to give a little, and everyone did: All employees gave with salary freezes. The buildings gave because no non-safety capital expenditures were made last school year. Families gave in paying much higher fees. It was unavoidable, but our students had to give as well, experiencing higher class sizes and reduced services in music and the Learning Resource Centers. The effort to balance the budget is working. The financial projections this year show a more stable financial future a much different picture than what we?ve seen in the past. We do not anticipate the need for cuts in the immediate future. We are monitoring any impact current cuts may have on student performance. We are also dealing with the proliferation of unfunded mandates created by legislation such as SB7 and the rollout of Common Core Standards. While many aspects of education reform legislation are positive, there is inevitably a cost to districts to implement the required changes. We are watching the state's financial situation because reduced state funding or the shifting of pension funding from the state to the school district could dramatically change our financial outlook.
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?
All of our employee groups have given during the budget deficit reduction process. All of our employee groups have had their salaries frozen for at least a year. The most important thing we need to focus on now is to ensure that salary and benefit increases going forward do not exceed projected revenue increases. For built out and tax-capped districts like ours, this means not exceeding the increase in the Consumer Price Index. Our two most recent collective bargaining agreements made great strides in aligning salary and benefit increases to the rate of increase in CPI. We will have to continue to reflect that fiscal reality in future contract negotiations.
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, I would not support this. Mount Prospect School District 57 does not offer these type of retirement contracts to administrators. I would also like to see this benefit removed from our collective bargaining agreements. Raises for any staff nearing retirement should be no different than the raise they would have received if they were not nearing retirement.