Kathleen Beck: Candidate Profile
River Trails District 26 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: River Trails District 26 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, two children, two grandchildren
Occupation: Retired School District 26 employee with 29 years of service, the last 9 years as Asministrative Assistant to the Superintendent and Secretary to the Board of Education.
Education: Candidate did not respond.
Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: Never
Key Issue 1
Addressing the Budget by investigating creative means of reducing expenditures and increasing revenues while maintianing successful programs for student learning and without creating an increase in the current residential tax levy.
Key Issue 2
Two important District documents expire in 2013 (The Strategic Plan) and in 2014 (The District's Negotiated Agreement with the employee bargaining unit). The work on these documents must ensure that the best possible education for the dollar will be available to all students.
Key Issue 3
Transparancy. This is more than just posting docuemnts on your website and issuing a quaterly resident newsletter. Our current strategic Plan's Stakeholder Vision referrs to "cultivating a stakeholder awareness" as being essential. It further states that "strong and positive stakeholder relationships will enhance and inspire our educational community to excel." The District must do a better job in reaching out to community members.
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?
The Common Core Standards (CCS) seem to be a reasonable academic shift. CCS address the whole child and are desiged to ensure that every student will demonstrate academic achievement and be prepared for success after highschool. Previous programs were intended for 3rd through 8th grades and then 9th through 12 grades. CCS are sequenced from Kindergarten through 12th grade, clarify what is expected of teachers, students and parents to prepare a child to enter the workforce or college, and contain international high performance benchmarks to keep our students globally competative. CCS also emphasize cross-dicipline teaching which will bring an increased understanding of subject matters and relevance to student learning. I am happy to see that educators are beginning to realize that current standardized tests (ISAT) have solft performance levels. It is also realistic to understand that all students will not complete a post high school program but still need to be productive members of our community. Our students need more rigor in thier learning criteria in order to be competitive in todays work place. The District 26 Board of Education adopted the Common Core Standards earlier in 2012. The Board must now monitor the implementation process. One of the areas I have thought about is a Board Curriculum Committee to work with administrators in reviewing the success of programs. A Daily Herald article on 1/25/13 referenced Illinois' first step in easing into the CSS by raising the ISAT meets/exceeds cut-off scores this year. It is a reality that meeting/exceeding standards is linked to receiving federal and state funding. A Board of Education is not only responsible to continually review and improve the curriculum but also to ensure that the funds are available to provide these programs. Currently the District has a curriculum review cycle which periodically schedules an evaluation of student learning materials. The systems is a good one but the CCS may accelerate some of the time frames. The Board must be prepared to provide the necessary textbooks, internet programs, materials, and professional development for teachers to maximize the delivery of new standards. As a Board member I would like to see the curriculum review schedule included in the new Strategic Plan and I would support innovative means for addressing profession development when changes are made.
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?
In the last few years, I have seen District 26 take on the teaching of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)classes. These are areas labeled as "critical" by the global market and our government. District 26 has also addressed the classroom challenges of high achievers and implemented RtI (Response to Intervention) to help meet the academic needs of all students and provide a successful educational experience. Programs have also been initiated to support students social behaviors and provide a more positive social interaction among peer groups and beyond. Teaching to the Common Core Standards will raise the academic bar for student learning and new social programs will help develop good team players for the future. The Board of Education needs to ensure that the progress of these programs is continually reviewed and updated beyond an annual report from the department heads.
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?
Historically, District 26 expenses on our Budget exceed our revenues. There have been years where budget controls and unexpected revenues have ended the fiscal year with an almost balanced budget. The District has a 60%+ surplus. In my opinion this is too high. This year, residents were told the surplus was to prepare for the pension shift from the state to the school districts which hasn't yet happened. The pension shift was always planned to phase-in in steps as the state realized that few school districts have a 60% surplus. In my opinion this was the year to give the taxpayer a break. I believe there are reductions that can be made in areas that do not directly affect student programs. Some areas I would like to investigate for reductions are administrator's benefits, use of consultants, streamlining or outsoucing Central Office duties, and areas of the upcoming Negotiated Agreement. I do not support tax increases on current residential property. I beleive original ideas need to be explored for alternative means to raise revenues. Our Educational Foundations needs to be injected with new energy to tap the private sector and administrators must find a way to approach and connect with the business community as partners.
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?
I believe there are areas in the District 26 Negotiated Agreement where concessions can be made without impacting salary dollars. Negotiations are a tricky business and, since discussions have not been intitiated it would be unfair to all parties to start hammering away at this time. I do beleive in fairness and if concessions are required at the bottom, they need to start at the top. Also, just as there is a need for higher expectations from students and staff, administrative goals have been too soft and need to be injected with some rigor...The District needs to get mnore bang for their buck.
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 don't beleive in anyone's pension being boosted as they near retirement by their salary and, nationwide, I would like to see this practice ended. In my opinion it is double-dipping and hurting the taxpayer/consumers twice.
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