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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: Lake Villa
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Antioch-Lake Villa High School District 117 Board Member (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, 4 Wonderful Children
Occupation: Consultant, Business Development and Sales Management in the international medical device field.
Education: Bachelor of Science in Finance, University of Illinois at Chicago. Master of Science, International Business Administration, Roosevelt University. Certificate in Financial Planning, Boston University.
Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.
Elected offices held: Member Board of Education, Lake Villa C.C. District 41, 2003-2009. Board President, 2005-2009. Member Board of Education, Community HS District 117, 2009-present. Finance Committee.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
Maintaining a safe environment for our students and employees; building a continuously challenging and high quality education experience; and continue the approach that recognizes the individual efforts of all students.
Key Issue 2
We have a great school district that is vital to the health of our community. Maintaining the level of what has been built and taking it ever increasing levels of performance all in a fiscally responsible way.
Key Issue 3
By ensuring that our professional staff has the resources necessary to educate our children in the 21st century, we provide reasonable, competitive and fair compensation that includes performance expectations, goal setting and benchmarking that tracks this to ensure the community that its resources are being properly spent.
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 an integral part of our curriculum and on a micro-level, an internal goal of our district for some time. With two buildings, it is critically important that our curriculum is delivered consistently and with the highest quality standards possible in all classrooms across the district. We utilize a committee approach that draws from primarily from our teachers and administrators to select curriculum. The board's role is setting policy, approving the curriculum and providing the resources to the classroom and the teachers to implement the curriculum. Resource allocation for training and curriculum improvement is vital to this success.
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?
One of our overall district goals is to provide our students with the skills necessary to transition to adult responsibilities including preparation for careers. A focus effort we track is the enrollment in AP course work for the college bound. Enrollment over the past few years in the rigorous AP course work has dramatically increased, pointing to signs that our college bound seniors are better prepared for college. We track the programs that our students are enrolling in at the Tech-Campus with excellent feed-back regarding those involved in programs providing for skills necessary for employment immediately following graduation. An example of a change was trending data showing that the reading skills of our incoming freshmen has been decreasing. We responded by implementing a reading component to all curriculum (Math, Science, P/E, etc.) from the start of this school year. We've had very positive comment from our department chairs regarding the methods and techniques being implemented to address the issue.
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?
Declining funding from the state, a trend toward declining enrollment and the unknown costs that may (may) come from the state pension crisis fix have and will continue to stress our budget. In response to these trends and the pressures placed on property emphasis on maintaining our education programs, we've pro-actively taken steps over the past few years to stay ahead of these challenges to prepare for the future. Major initiatives taken include reducing head-counts while continuously optimizing class sizes, reducing administrative positions, some extra-curricular programs have been cut or reduced and a zero wage increase being implemented for the 2011-2012 year. We are a unique district in that we also have two private residential facilities with high school age students that we have a responsibility to provide an education. I personally believe that a tax increase should be reserved as a last resort and only to maintain basic program offerings and quality. Even then, the community makes the decision at referendum, not the board. As the state continues to reduce and withhold money historically earmarked for education, unfortunately many communities will be faced with this question.
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?
Our district is fortunate that we have a very dedicated group of teachers and administrators that share the community's passion toward the education of our children and the financial strain that our community is under. We have taken a collaborative approach to resolving employment costs that have allowed for a win-win approach to our overall employment cost structure. Concessions have been made and we will continue to collaborate with our employees to ensure the needs of all are reasonably met.
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?
I believe that that our state needs to move away from a defined benefits approach to pensions and toward a defined contribution approach as private industry began to undertake 30 years ago. Given the cost of a substantial increase in salary near retirement to boost a pension payout being borne by the district, I would not be in favor of authorizing this expense.