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updated: 2/22/2013 6:28 PM

Donna Johnson: Candidate Profile

Palatine District 15 School Board (4-year Terms)

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  • Donna Johnson, running for Palatine District 15 School Board (4-year Terms)

    Donna Johnson, running for Palatine District 15 School Board (4-year Terms)




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: Palatine


Office sought: Palatine District 15 School Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 54

Family: Donna and her husband, Todd, have been married for 21 years. They have lived in their Palatine home for 13 years. Donna's nephews attend District 15 schools.

Occupation: Currently working part-time as a financial and business consultant for an educational & charitable foundation, while seeking full-time employment.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Finance, Roosevelt University Continuing education in Project Management, Harper College

Civic involvement: Current volunteer at City Harvest Church in Rolling Meadows Former board member at Chicago Tap Theatre company in Chicago

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

Children First Decision making process should always start and end with asking one question: How does this impact the children and their ultimate educational success?

Key Issue 2

Improving Communication and Collaboration Communication for all community stakeholders involves listening and informing. When making program decisions, District 15 needs to carefully evaluate how choices will affect all stakeholders.

Key Issue 3

Budgeting within Our Means Recent efforts to create a plan for a balanced budget and long-term stability are very encouraging. We must stay on this path through focusing on fiscal policies which align our expenditures to our limited revenues.

Questions & Answers

In recent years, Dist. 15 has had contentious relationships between the board and teachers, teachers and the administration, and on the board itself. What is the root cause of this, what problems has it caused, and what must be done to improve it?

Contention can arise for many reasons. Running a school district as large as ours is not an easy task and disagreements are bound to happen. I believe contentious relationships can happen when disagreements and a lack of understanding of other peoples? perspective grows over time between the stakeholders. This can develop when decisions are made with little regard for differing viewpoints and experiences. Many issues require careful thought, consideration, and understanding so all groups feel their voices have been heard. People need to feel like their opinions matter. Group discussion and debates on issues are good for reasonable and fair outcomes. Trust and understanding can be built when communication avenues are available and a sense of openness and transparency is brought to the table.

Should District 15 continue to hold onto the 40 acres in Inverness that was originally intended for a new middle school, or look to sell it?

If it is determined there is no need for an additional school to be built in the future, then selling the land could be an option for today. However, finding a fair and reasonable offer could be difficult in this current economy. If the land were sold the money received should remain in a temporarily restricted fund for a specific purpose of need, such as payment for current bills in the potential event of delayed receipts from federal and state funding.

How do you think District 15 has handled budgetary pressures in recent years? Amid the uncertainties of outside funding sources, are there ways the district could be more in control of its own destiny?

Budgetary pressure will always be there, if the Board is handling the community's school finances responsibly. Having no budgetary pressure means an automatic increase in taxes for the District's taxpayers, without any compromises to living within its means. The District needs to have an ongoing goal of keeping expenses in line with its current revenue, without raising the community's taxes unnecessarily, in the coming months and years. Many community residents are hurting in this tough economy and are counting on its elected officials to ensure fiscal responsibility. As outside funding becomes uncertain, discussions and collaboration of ideas and resources with surrounding school districts is one way to possibly tackle potential financial shortfalls. Another way is to request and welcome more volunteers that want to join in helping the District and utilize some of their personal experiences and areas of expertise.

How would you define the ideal working relationship between a school board and its administrators and teachers? To what degree does your school district represent this relationship now?

An ideal working relationship is where thoughts, ideas, and expertise are brought to the table and discussed and heard among the School Board and its administrators and teachers. The current School Board has made great strides in this area. They have truly listened and welcomed input from all stakeholders. However, there's always room for improvement in communications. I think that the District could be more proactive in getting information out early so people can feel they have a voice in the issues presented.

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?

Common Core State Standards were developed with national and international top performing school standards, and adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education. The goal in these standards is to prepare children for college, and to succeed globally in the workplace and society. We can be optimistic these standards will enhance the District's mission of producing world-class learners. The Board's responsibility is to oversee and ensure the curriculum, developed by the District, is appropriately aligned with state standards. The Board should also ensure that teachers? creativity and expertise continue to flourish in the classroom while applying Common Core. The District's current high standards should have a positive effect on getting the new ones implemented and serve as a reminder to parents that our educators will work with the children to ensure a smooth transition.