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updated: 2/22/2013 6:26 PM

James Mitchell: Candidate Profile

Lake Villa District 41 School Board (4-year Terms)

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  • James Mitchell, running for Lake Villa District 41 School Board (4-year Terms)

    James Mitchell, running for Lake Villa District 41 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: Lindenhurst


Office sought: Lake Villa District 41 School Board (4-year Terms)

Age: Candidate did not respond

Family: Widowed,Remarried 4 grown children with 1st wife

Occupation: Water Plant Operator, City of Highland Park, Illinois

Education: Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Ill 9/01 - 5/03

School of Allied Health Professions, Enrolled in Master of Public Health Program

Completed 18 hrs towards degree

College of Lake County, Grayslake, Ill; 9/91 - 12/00; Concentration in Civil Technologies Curriculum with emphasis in Water/Waste-Water, additional classroom instruction in Biology, Chemistry, Earth sciences, Electronics, Computers, Multi-Media presentations and Technical Writing.

* Inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, national Honor Society

* Received Water and Wastewater Certificates

Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago 9/74 - 2/75; Graduated with B.A., concentration in business and finance

Millikin University, Decatur, Il 9/61 - 6/67; College interrupted by military service. Completed 110 hours

toward degree in Chemistry and minor in Mathematics. Earned 70% of all college expenses.

Civic involvement: Friends of the Lake Villa Public Library District:

President 3/01-9/05, responsible for rebuilding membership, correcting non-for-profit status with federal and state agencies, established Foundation, organized used book sale, created several programs to improve community image.

College of Lake County:

Member Student Senate as Senator school years 96/97, 97/98 and 00/01, elected Treasurer, Student Body for school year 98/99, elected Student Body President for school year 99/00, CLC Representative to Student Advisory Committee of the Illinois Board of Higher Education 97-01; Chm Academic Affairs Sub-Committee of the Executive Board Member 99-01; active in several other CLC campus activities.

Mallard Ridge Estates Homeowners Association President: 4/93 -- 4/97.

Adult leader: Boy Scout Troop 190, 95 - 00; Coach Youth Iceless Hockey Association, 4/94 -- 4/98; Coach, Lindenhurst Youth Soccer League 9/93 -- 6/98.

United States Navy 7/67 - 6/74; HONORABLY DISCHARGED

Elected offices held: District 41 School Board Member

Lake County Regional Board Of Education; 1/02 - Present; Re-elected to new 6 year term 4/07 -- 5/13

Lake Villa District Library; 5/91 - 2/03

Elected to a new term of 6 years 4/07 -- 6/13

Lake County Board Member 1/89 - 12/90

Lake County Forest Preserve District 1/89 - 12/90

Fort Sheridan Commission 4/89 - 12/90

Illinois Pre-White House Conference Delegate 4/90 - 12/90

Prepared statewide and national library goals for 21st century

Lake County Board Member 7/84 - 12/86

Lake County Forest Preserve District 7/84 - 12/86

Union Drainage District 2/80 - 9/87

President of a three member board 9/82-9/87

Highland Park Mosquito Abatement District 3/78 - 7/85

President of a three member board 3/81-7/85

West Deerfield Township Trustee 5/81 - 7/84

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Restore community confidence in the elected board; be transparent with all district finances and remove the necessity of FOIA requests for most information; hold at least one school site meeting at each grade school to identify key instructional and personnel issues for each building continuing this practice thru school cycle 2013 and 2014, at least.

Key Issue 2

Reign in unnessary expenditures and review existing privitization contracts for cost reduction or improvement of services and explore/implement cooperative agreements with other governmental entities for delivery of services to improve student education.

Key Issue 3

Work with the Village of Lake Villa for the creation of Special Service Areas in the downtown area to facilitate commercial revitilization and the sale of Pleviak School.

Questions & Answers

District 41 faces a large deficit and tough financial choices. Name one step you would push on the board to address the situation. Please explain your idea.

Intergovernmental agreement with Lake Villa Public Library District.

The purpose of this proposal is for LVDL to provide library services, collaborative support for teachers and school curriculum, electronic resources, curriculum research services, age/grade appropriate programming for large groups on/at each respective school campus to enhance student knowledge and achievement.

LVDL tax revenues would be allocated on a student per capita basis to finance this programming agreement.

Implementation could begin with the fall 2013 semester with ongoing review and modification to make it work and become a permanent program.

The Friends of LVDL and the respective parent teacher groups would be included for participation to build volunteer pools to help during school hours with subject like reading, writing, math, science; and, after school enrichment programming, tuition assistance to itemize a few possibilities.



School Districts in return for library services enumerated below shall provide at least the following to enhance student knowledge and achievement.

1. Provide suitable space for a library, building security plan, access between the hours of 7 am to 7 pm. utilities including internet and phone connections, parking, etc

LVDL would agree to follow the respective schools' requirements for security protocols and employee background checks.

Lake Villa Public Library District (LVDL) will provide to School District 41 which has educational buildings within Lake Villa Public Library District taxing authority, a qualified librarian, and two aids to facilitate each classroom in each school the opportunity to have at least one classroom period in the library per week for curriculum support.

LVDL would create a branch library concept at each of these facilities for the further utilization of LVDL electronic and tangible resources and miscellaneous contracts for interlibrary loan.

LVDL would work with other partners - before, during and after school - for any educational or enrichment programming and/or library resource utilization until 7 pm.

LVDL would provide resources on the same student per capita basis for the enumerated students from the LVDL tax revenue area attending those schools located outside of Lake Villa Township.


Every student in Lake Villa Public Library District is a patron of the library, a client for library services. The emergence of technology is changing teaching paradigms. Access to library and other digital resource materials can be accessed 24/7 with appropriate electronic devices. One resource person can electronically reach an unlimited number of students, parents or patrons. Tax revenues can be better utilized with the emerging technology rather than relying on traditional print material and new bricks and mortar which have by historical usage, limited daily access.

This idea and document is a starting point that is intended to be shared freely. With diligent, cooperative dialogue and refinement from the community and respective boards it can be advanced and implemented in the fall semester of 2013.

How satisfied are you that your district is adequately preparing students for the next stage in their lives, whether it be high school, college or full-time employment? What changes, if any, do you think need to be made?

I am not satisfied. When I look back at my son's struggles for achievement in school and where he is today at age 30, education delivery was seriously flawed back then, manifesting in his mediocre performance at best in high school in the 90's. He is finally digging out of the Lake Villa grade school and ACHS educational abyss.

We need a good educational plan that is: flexible for student needs, engages parents to participate in their child's education and personal growth: does not tolerate bad class room behavior or parental indeference

I have attended the first two Board Member Training sessions sponsored by District #41.They are illuminating the fact that there has been leadership chaos at the board level and in the administration ranks and at each of the educational sites for may years.

We will need to change the educational paradigm: to utilize the electronic delivery of educational content, return to reading and writing assignments, practice of math problem solving skills and reeducating some parents where necessary so they can understand what their child needs to achieve.

We need to create a work enviroment that is the best and not one that teachers and staff want to escape from after they have added to their education at taxpayer expense.

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?

The board has to demonstrate its openness and competence with: a financial plan that is sustainable; an adopted educational model supported by the community; and hire an administrative staff that will implement, support and work with teachers to deliver it effectively in the classroom and be reinforced daily at home. There may need to be an increase in classroom instruction time and or assistance time for struggling students that does not infringe on limited classroom time.

As contract talks come up with various employee groups what position should the school board take? Should the district seek concessions, expect employee costs to stay about the same now or provide increases in pay or benefits?

The district's financial condition needs to be opened up completely for ALL to see and be able to constructively comment. Cost reduction is necessary everywhere; revenue improvement from other than real estate taxes or fee increases must be considered and implemented first; outside services need to be evaluated - improved and/or expanded. Legislative relief may also be necessary.

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?

Adopt the Milburn curriculum plan which has not changed for almost 10 years because it is producing better prepared student with better test scores and a less expensive cost per pupil rate. Then make additional changes to improve upon it.