Article updated: 2/22/2013 6:22 PM

Gary Gorson: Candidate Profile

Stevenson High School District 125 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.

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Bio

City: Hawthorn Woods

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Stevenson High School District 125 School Board (4-year Terms)

Age: Candidate did not respond.

Family: Married, three children

Occupation: Information Technology Executive

Education: Master of Science in Computer Science

Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.

Elected offices held: Board of Education District 125 1999 - present Village of Hawthorn Woods Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals 1987 - 1999

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Providing the highest quality education in a safe, comfortable environment that leads to success for every student has been and will continue to be our highest priority at Stevenson. Increasing globalization and the changing economy makes it imperative that Stevenson stay on a path of continuous improvement in academic programs so students are prepared to compete in this changing environment.

Key Issue 2

The board must continue to be good stewards of taxpayer money by continued effective short and long term financial planning. By continuing to scrutinize district spending and effectively maintaining the facility infrastructure, the Board is taking measures to establish a stable tax structure and adequate financial reserves for the future.

Key Issue 3

Effective communication, transparency, and clarity of purpose are key elements contributing to continued success at Stevenson. Board and District policies and procedures are regularly reviewed, and comprehensive frameworks and specific mechanisms are enacted and revised as necessary to provide effective communication channels among students, teachers, administrators, the board, and members of the district community.

Questions & Answers

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 are being adopted not only across public schools in the United States but internationally. Common core helps insure that all students are receiving consistent instruction and being evaluated fairly and equitably. They also provide a basis for effective benchmarking of both student and teacher performance. The board's role in curriculum is strictly one of review and recommendation. The teachers and administrators are experts in this area and board's role is to evaluate their effectiveness, not to directly set curriculum.

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 am very satisfied that Stevenson is preparing students exceptionally well for life after high school. For years Stevenson has been conducting surveys and collecting information from its graduates that support this viewpoint. Additionally, by essentially all test measures PLAN, EXPLORE, ACT, PSAE, SAT, AP, etc Stevenson's students have performed at exceptionally high levels. The continued high percentage of Stevenson graduates entering college further reflects the strong preparation students receive.

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?

The most significant issues the district is likely to face will come from the failure of the state to provide funds it has previously committed to provide - specifically, transferring the burden of pension funding to the local school districts. Additional reductions in state funding and further unfunded mandates from the state or federal government would produce a financial challenge to the district. The good news is that the district very closely monitors financial performance and fund balances. Sophisticated and highly detailed computer models are used to project tax revenues and costs out several years into the future a great help in district financial planning. The use of these tools has enabled the district to establish reserve funds to help at least partially mitigate the effects of failed funding from the state and federal government, should that occur, without dramatic impact on existing programs. While tax increases can never be ruled out for some point in the future, the board has been able to abate all or a portion of the district tax levy back to taxpayers for the past several years.

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?

Stevenson and its employee groups have always been fair, reasonable, realistic, and respectful in negotiating labor agreements. Stevenson employees are just as exceptional as Stevenson students. The basis for these talks always has been and will continue be focused on fair and equitable compensation in exchange for continued high-performance and commitment to the district vision ofSuccess for Every Student?.

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 I would not support such action.

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