Kevin Daniels: Candidate Profile
Round Lake Unit District 116 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.
City: Round Lake Beach
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Round Lake Unit District 116 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married for over 20 years, father of two boys in the District: 11-year-old at Beach Elementary, and 15-year-old freshman at RLHS
Occupation: Marketing and Product Management
Education: Bachelor of Science, Millikin University, 1990 Master of Business Administration, Keller Graduate School of Management, 2001, Concentrations in Finance and Marketing Level II, IASB Master Board Member Program
Civic involvement: Avon Township Youth Baseball, RLHS Fine Arts Boosters
Elected offices held: Appointed to RLAS District 116 Board of Education, June 2011
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Dramatic improvement in student achievement across the District
Key Issue 2
Efficient and responsible fiscal policy to maintain the District's financial independence
Key Issue 3
Increased community engagement through improved District communications
Do you believe the district needs to pursue a Round Lake High School expansion and other improvements? If so, how should this be financed? Please explain.
I believe expansion and renovation of the high school is second only to safety and security projects in terms of priority from the District's long-term facility master plan. The HS building is already over capacity with students split between two schedules, and some classes being taught in mobile units. Projections from multiple sources indicate that our school population will continue to grow over the coming years. Over the last year, we have evaluated renovation projects, as well as building a new HS. Unfortunately, the latter would require legislative approval to exceed the District's debt ceiling, and likely create too much burden on our community. However, we believe we could solve the most significant space issues in that building with a smaller bond referendum that could be paid back without increasing the District's annual budget for debt service beyond what is budgeted for the current school year. The renovation project could also save the District significant expense each year by bringing some of our special education students back to the District, rather than paying for tuition and transportation to send them to other facilities.
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?
This is precisely why I want to serve on this board. We are currently only preparing a small percentage of our students to be successful in the next stage of their lives. I understand that not all of our students will choose college as their path. However, we should make certain that they can succeed on that path if it is chosen. I?ve told District Administration repeatedly that ACT scores are more meaningful to me as a board member than other standardized test metrics because they represent a national standard. They are the standards our kids will be held to at every university they apply to. Their scores on that test will be compared to other kids from around the state, and around the country. The District's ACT results since I was appointed to the Board in June 2011 have not been good. According to ACT, only 9-10% of our juniors who took the test over the last two years were adequately prepared to be successful in college. The Schuler Scholar program in our District provides a tremendous advantage for those select students. I?d like to see the District do a better job of preparing ALL of our students to succeed at higher education. I believe one way to do that is to fully leveraging our K-12 district structure. We have the luxury of having our students all the way through their primary and secondary education. However, we have not yet established an articulated curriculum to adequately prepare elementary school kids for middle school, and middle school kids for high school. The implementation of common core standards in 2015 should help with that. We will also need to be certain that each of our teachers at all buildings of a given grade level have the materials and training necessary to teach the same content.
What budgetary issues will your district have to confront during the next four years and what measure do you support to address them? Be specific. On the income side, do you support any tax increases for local schools? Be specific.
After our experience with the School Finance Authority, the District and the finance committee I chair are committed to having a balanced budget each school year. There are several issues over the next four years that could make that more challenging for us. First, the revenue we receive from the State of Illinois has not been as reliable or predictable as we would like. Funding for public schools from the State continues to decline, and education has dropped to the second largest spend in the State's budget. Funding rates from the State appear to be at risk moving forward, particularly until there is a solution for unfunded public pensions. If even part of that obligation gets pushed to local school districts, it will cause significant budget issues for Districts throughout the state. On the expense side of the ledger, staffing is our largest annual budget line item, as it should be. The District will need to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement in 2014. The language of that contract will have a tremendous impact on District spending for the term of the CBA. Another factor that will impact budgeting, are our improvement plans for student achievement. Years of poor performance against annual yearly progress goals have forced the District to consider radical restructuring plans. In addition, implementation of the common core standards will also have costs associated with them. With so much uncertainty now regarding District revenues, as well as uncertainty regarding property values that impact local taxes, it is impossible to predict tax increases the District may need. I do believe public education is one of the most important investments we can make at the federal, state, and local level. As a board member I can help ensure that every dollar of revenue that comes to the District will be spent responsibly and effectively for the best interest of our students.
Do you support the health center proposed for Round Lake High School? Why or why not? Please elaborate.
The school based health center is not a District 116 initiative and will not use District funds for either construction or operations. As such, I have not been very involved in the discussions around this project. I do know there is strong opposition from some members of the community, and I understand the arguments both for and against the center. Personally, my wife and I have decided that our boys will not utilize the new facility, instead opting for our existing healthcare provider and insurance system. I expect other parents in the District will exercise their freedom to make decisions for their own children based on their individual situation and healthcare needs.
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?
The shift to common core standards will help eliminate the significant gap between current Illinois? state standards and national standards like ACT. It will take some time for our District to catch up with the new higher standards, but it is certain to help our students in the long term. As a board member, I do not see it as my role to set curriculum. Board members can, however, hold District Administration accountable for timely adoption of the new standards, implementing an articulated curriculum across the District consistent with those standards, and ultimately higher student achievement we all expect.
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