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: Buffalo Grove
Website: None, but you can find Graupe for D102 School Board on Facebook
Office sought: Aptakisic-Tripp District 102 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married to Betsy for 16 years. I have 3 children. One is currently at Meridian Middle School. One attends Tripp Elementary School. We recently registered our youngest for kindergarten next school year.
Occupation: I am a CPA, currently working as a Director of Financial Reporting
Education: BA, Biology from Cornell University; MBA with Honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Civic involvement: National School Boards Association Federal Relations Network member; Hacker Scouts
Elected offices held: Aptakisic-Tripp D102 School Board Member since 2009; Board Secretary since 2011. I also serve on the school board's personnel and policy committees.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
The focus of my concern is not that we are 1 point higher than a neighboring district on an ISAT test, but that we continue to educate and challenge our children. I believe that we can do better with our STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math). These areas will continue to be high priorities for our students. We will need to balance this with continued quality programs in language arts and social studies. We should continue to offer foreign languages (and gauge whether the community is interested in expanding our offerings). We should also not neglect programs that are often cut from schools across the state, such as music and art. We need to make sure that our children are educated with respect to their health and fitness as well. We need to improve our strong social emotional curriculum. I am proud of the programs we offer today in each of these areas, but I am not complacent; I believe that these and other programs can be improved.
Key Issue 2
The district recently entered into a 3-year agreement with our teachers, so over the next four years, we will need to repeat this process. Our superintendent's contract will also run its course during this term. We will be required to include a student-growth component in our teacher evaluations. All of these critical issues will be handled in the coming four years. The district needs a strong board of education to responsibly negotiate these contracts, ensuring that solid leadership, high quality staff, and fiscal responsibility remain some of D102's core strengths.
Key Issue 3
The district needs to continue to pursue its community engagement. Nearly two years ago we asked our stakeholders (students, teachers, administrators, parents and members of the community-at-large) to give us input into what they wanted to see in our district. Together we developed a long-range plan focusing on four areas. This year, our Life and Learning portion has included, among other things, a personal technology initiative and the transformation of the media centers at two of our schools. We also continue to integrate critical thinking, complex-problem solving, creativity, collaboration and communication into our education process. Under the Personalization and Academic Rigor umbrella, we are realigning our mathematics curriculum to the common core standards (we did this for language arts last year). We are also implementing a new gifted and talented education model to address the needs of our student body. For Communications, we are continuing to increase the writing opportunities for our students, and we are working to improve and increase the communication between our staff and the community. Finally, under the Human Capital heading, we are working to improve our teacher evaluation model. We are also improving our principal evaluation tool, including adding a student-achievement component. I am excited to continue along this path and to reengage the community as we set new long-term goals.
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 common core standards provide a map at every grade level as to what skills each student should master that year. The long-term goal is that by the end of high school, the student is ready for college or a career. Who doesn't think that this is the goal of education? So far standards have been released for English language arts and mathematics. The district has implemented the English language arts common core curriculum and is in the process of overhauling our math program. Developing and implementing the new curricula is time consuming and difficult, but since the goal is worthwhile, I support the activity. Members of the board of education are not experts in developing or implementing the common core standards. The board of education should make sure that the teachers and administrators have the right resources, skills and professional development available to them, so that they can make the transition a 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?
While my goal for the district is to always do better, students leaving District 102 are performing exceptionally as they enter Stevenson High School. Academically, our students are placing, in large numbers, in standard, advanced and honors classes at the high school. More importantly, at whichever level students place, they are finding success at the next level. Furthermore, the district's emphasis on social-emotional learning is preparing our children to handle issues that are not learned in a typical textbook.
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 district has been able to successfully navigate the current economic situation. In fact, the district received a Standard & Poor's AAA rating. While we have been successful to date, we are facing an economy that has been sluggish, pension reform that will likely increase our expenses and sequestration at the federal level which will impact federal funding. I have worked to control our costs by supporting sustainable contracts for our future. I continue to support district budgets that eliminate unnecessary costs. I hold our administrators responsible for sticking to these budgets. In fact, they typically come in below budget. As a district, we have been able to do all of this while maintaining great schools for our children.
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?
The district has had a wonderful relationship with our teachers. I supported a new 3-year contract with our teachers that allows us to continue to attract and retain high-quality educators and maintain reasonable expenditures. When the time comes to negotiate future contracts, we should evaluate the then-current economic situation and outlook and again balance these two factors.
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?
Our superintendent and administrators are fairly compensated with respect to their peers; therefore, I would be reluctant to support substantial increases in pay for administrators nearing retirement in order to boost their pension benefit.