Dave Secrest: Candidate Profile
Crystal Lake High School District 155 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.
City: Crystal Lake
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Crystal Lake High School District 155 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married 39yrs 5 grown children-4 girls and 1 boy; 2 are married 5 grandchildren-3 boys, 2 girls
Education: M.S. Educational Administration Northern Illinois University 1972 B.S. in Education Northern Illinois University 1967
Civic involvement: Past Board Member Lake Region YMCA Past President homeowners group Past President of both the Crystal Lake Central and Prairie Ridge Booster Clubs
Elected offices held: Board Member Community High School District 155 for the past 12 years
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
As a member of a very cohesive Board I have and continue to be an advocate for providing the highest quality education to our students while maintaining a focus on holding cost in check. This position is evidenced by the abatement of some $4.5 million in property tax requests in the past two years. I will continue to push for reduced spending with the goal to hold taxes rates down. I further believe that a well administered,and progressive school system that continues to show steady growth and improvement in its students achievement helps to maintain the overall economic health of the community it serves.
Key Issue 2
With our varied and encompassing curriculum that includes pre-engineering and Chinese, Honors and Advanced Placement courses, and specially trained teachers and courses in Special Education we cannot lose sight of those students who do not fall within any of these areas. I have been and will continue to be a very strong advocate for providing all of the support and encouragement to those students that are enrolled in our mainstream curriculum. This is indeed a group of students that we have and will continue to provide that extra "boost" and support that is needed to help them achieve at their highest level.
Key Issue 3
With operating four high schools, two alternative school programs and an Administrative Center, serving nearly 7000 students and some 700 staff it is critically important that in addition to curriculum we provide secure, safe and well maintained facilities. In order to maximize the learning and teaching experience students, teachers and support staff must be feel and be safe from both outside and internal negative influences.
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 Standards (CCS) are indeed good and something that has been needed. First, they replace the Illinois Learning Standards that had not been revised or updated in some two decades. Second, since almost all states have adopted the CCS there is now a more universal way to measure how your school, district or state is achieving compared to the other states using the same measurement tool. Today the core standards only include English, Language Arts and Math. The Sciences, World Language and the Arts are in development. Even without these disciplines included there is an overriding emphasis on literacy in general across the education spectrum. With CCS we can now better determine readiness for advanced education in college/university, vocational/trade schools or at career levels. Common Core Standards, properly applied are a good measurent tool for school administrators, teachers, students and parents alike.
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?
I indeed believe that the students of District #155 are well prepared. District wide we have a 94+% graduation rate which is among the highest in the state. 92% of our graduating students go on to some form of further education (2 or 4 year colleges or a vocational/trade school). Major colleges and universities surveyed by our District tell us that our graduates come to them well prepared. Former students themselves tell us, via a survey three years after they graduate, that they too feel well prepared for the future. However, to remain vital it is important that the District not get complacent and rest on its past achievement. We do, and will continue to revise and update the curriculum and course offerings so that students will continue to have the most relevant and rigorous curriculum available to them.
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?
In these challenging economic times all sectors (for profit, non-profit and public)including District 155 face hard decisions when it comes to budgeting. As a District we have made those hard decisions with some $3.5 million million in budget cuts coupled with salary freezes at all employee levels. In additional, and most important to all of us as tax payers, we have over the past two years abated some 4.5 million in property tax revenue, that otherwise would have been imposed on the property tax paying public. As a responsible Board Member I will, along with my fellow Board Members, continue to explore cost saving opportunities and ways to hold the line on spending. I will continue to be a responsible steward of the public's money.
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?
Contract talks are always a challenge for both sides of the table. D155 is fortunate to have a terrific professional staff and responsible Association and Union representation. That said the process is a negotiation that requires give and take. The District has, in its recent negotiations been able to have staff contribute to their health insurance coverage, set limits to the District's retirement contributions and have a wage freeze. The administration, under the guidence of the Board will continue to be vigilant in obligating the public's money.
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?
In a word-NO! The District has formal contracts with all of its administrators including the Superintendent that includes a base salary and benefits and as importantly includes quantifiable annual performance goals. We are getting away from the past and longevity based compensation.
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