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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: Arlington Heights
Office sought: Arlington Heights District 25 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married with two children. My wife and children all attended District 25 at Westgate and South Middle School.
Occupation: Self-employed Software Engineer
Education: BS Engineering in Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1978
Civic involvement: Boy Scouts Assistant Scoutmaster, PADS (Homeless Shelter), Church leader, PTA, ABC/25 Foundation for District 25, Science Olympiad event coach, Tech Coordinator for drama at South Middle School
Elected offices held: Arlington Heights School District 25 Board Member 2009-present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
During these changing times in education and the economy, my number one priority is working to maintain the high quality of education in District 25 balanced with fiscal responsibility and accountability. I will draw on my four years of 100% attendance and commitment on the board, and my total of fourteen years as a District 25 parent or board member, to ensure the best education for our children.
Key Issue 2
Communication and transparency need improvement within the district. I would like to see the full agenda online, along with all of the non-confidential background information that is prepared for the board. I would also like to have more board meetings dedicated to discussions on issues and goals. One of District 25's greatest assets is its parent participation. These steps would bring more parents and community members into the process. Eventually I would like to see meetings broadcast on the district cable channel.
Key Issue 3
Special Education Review. The district is beginning a review process of the special education curriculum. It is important that parents of special needs children be a part of this and that all aspects of the program be looked at, including best practices, parent involvement and communication.
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 are a new set of curriculum standards that have been adopted by 47 states, currently in the areas of math, science and language arts. They emphasize inquiry (guiding the students to discovery) and cross-curricular (topics that cross different subjects) and they are more rigorous. The standards emphasize the learning process along with the content. The idea is to engage the students more in the learning so that they may problem solve and learn on their own. District 25 is already in the process of implementing the new standards. While the board has the final say in adopting a new curriculum, the teachers and administrators who will be using the curriculum are the best people to select and implement it. The board's role is monitoring this process to be sure that changes are made carefully, thoughtfully, and with community input and feedback.
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?
This district continues to do an excellent job of preparing students for high school and beyond, as shown by high school test scores as well as leadership and involvement in high school. Transitioning to the common core standards presents new challenges on preparing for high school. How well this district implements the common core standards will be a key to future success. Each student is unique. Some students learn very quickly and can easily get bored while the rest of the class is catching up. Some students need to work extra hard just to keep pace. Some have special needs that must be met before learning can proceed. As a public school, it is important that we continue to meet the learning style of each student, providing sufficient support as needed and making sure each student is sufficiently challenged to reach his/her own potential.
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 budget is reasonably stable, but uncertainties in state funding and possible pension changes may present challenges. The State of Illinois is over a million dollars behind on their payments to District 25. As well, the state has a crisis with pensions and may move additional pension costs to the school board, putting a strain on our budget. We are always looking for ways to reduce expenses without sacrificing programs. If cuts are needed in the future, it is important that parents and community members be involved in the discussions. In 2013 the district's long-term debt will be paid off, lowering the tax levy. This will reduce overall property taxes in 2014, though individual property taxes may vary depending on many factors. At this time I do not see the need for a property tax increase when that debt is retired, unless unforeseen circumstances make a significant change in our income or budgetary needs.
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 we are currently in negotiations with the teachers' representatives, I am unable to discuss this.
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. This practice adds to pension costs that are ultimately picked up by the taxpayer.