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Office sought: Aptakisic-Tripp District 102 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married to Marla for 29 years. I have two children--Brittany--age 27 and Bradley--age 23. I have lived in Deerfield since 1987. My daughter attended all District 102 schools and my son attended the SEDOL program. Both graduated from Stevenson High School.
Occupation: Attorney. I am the sole proprietor of the Law Office of Scott J. Linn. I have operated my own law office since 1984.
Education: A.B. in Political Science from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign campus--1974) and J.D. from Saint Louis University School of Law--1977.
Civic involvement: Member, District 102 Future Planning Committee. Member, District 102 21st Century Technology Committee. Assistant Coach, Buffalo Grove Park District Girls Softball--1997-1999 Member, Deerfield-Bannockburn Chamber of Commerce. Member, GMLV Chamber of Commerce. Former Member, Temple Jeremiah Men's Group. Former Vice-president and Education Committee Chairman--Association of Condominium, Townhouse and Homeowners Associations(ACTHA).
Elected offices held: Vernon Township Democratic Precinct Committeeman--1988--Present.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
Ensuring that District 102: (1) continues to be one of the top elementary school districts in all of Illinois. This means that educational standards and curriculum are continuously reviewed and improved upon;(2) maximizes the ability of every student to succeed at Stevenson HS, any other high school attended and at the university level; (3) successfully implements the new State of Illinois Common Core standards which should improve the educational development of District 102 students; (4) maintains the District's record of excellent standardized test score performances; (5)continues attracting and retaining superb teachers and administrators. Presently, District 102 is a place that teachers and adminstrators really want to work in because of its many strengths; and (6) continues its "out-of-the-box" thinking and emphasis on such things as "social-emotional" learning. This will continue to better prepare students for the post-Dist. 102 educational experience
Key Issue 2
Continuing Disrtrict 102's superb record of financial prudence and stability. The district's ability to remain a top elementary school district hinges on its financial situation. Successfully implementing an excellent curriculum and attracting top-flight faculty members all are based on having the financial resources to do so. The district has successfully implemented a long-range financial plan and avoided budget deficits. Consequently, it has been able to maintain a AAA bond rating. This must continue.
Key Issue 3
Continiuing to successfully implement the district's stated goal of "supporting learning powered by technology". Using classroom technology effectively has become a major part of a student's educational development. The new PTI program now allows each 5th and 7th grader to receive iPad's providing access to applications and digital textbooks. The use of interactive white boards has been a regular part of a student's learning experience.
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?
I feel that adopting the Common Core standards was a very positive development. School districts such as 102 that have created the necessary structure to implement the standards, will benefit most. For the last 2 years the district had in place the necessary structure to teach to the goals and benchmarks contained in the standards. The disrtrict has been fortunate in having faculty members expert in language arts, math and technology, who can properly train teachers regarding the new standards. This should defintely better prepare District 102 students for high school and college success. The board of education should take a major role in developing and implementing the district's curriculum. The board is the entity which must first develop a solid curriculum plan. This plan must be based on the input of district administators and teachers; and on researching the curriculums of other school districts in Illinois and even other states. In District 102 there has been a big improvement over the last 4 or 5 years in Board planning and monitoring of the curriculum. Decisions are now made beforehand that lead to better coordination of curriculums between grade levels at the various schools comprising the district.
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?
District 102's "student centered envirnment" is doing an excellent job of preparing students for high school, college and the work world. This is borne out by several factors, including the following: (1) Results from the 2011 ISAT and IAA tests showed that over 94% of all Distict 102 students met or exceeded state reading standards and over 96% met or exceeded state math standards; (2) as a member of the 21st Century Technology Committee I saw how state of the art technology was being properly incorporated into a student's everyday learning experience; (3) the district is placing greater emphasis on "social emotional" learning as opposed to simply teaching for standardized test taking purposes. This helps students better deal with their emotions in a classroom situation; and (4) the district is now concentrating more on providing gifted students with greater opportunities for their talents. The new GTE program will be focusing on giving top achievers more specialized instruction. I am presently advocating that these positive steps continue.
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 will have to confront the following issues: (1) balancing the allocation of funds to salaries, benefits,student services and materials/equipment purchases; (2) fluctuating property values and property foreclosures. These factors might result in property tax revenue declines;(3) unfunded State of Illinois mandates; (4) changing enrollment numbers; (5) the potential shifting from the State of Illinois to the district, of some pension costs; (6) a decrease in the amount of funding presently received from the State of Illinois. At present, the disrict is on very sound financial footing due to excellent planning. Consequently, I see no need to ask for expenditure cuts nor the elimination of programs or personnel. The newly completed teacher contract should pave the way for additional monies being set aside for items other than salaries and benefits. At present and for the foreseeable future, there is no need to request tax increases. Such requests should only be a last resort.
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 and its teachers recently approved a new 3 year contract containing specific salary increases over that same period. However, when the next contract comes up for renewal the entire situation must be re-evaluated. The district's then existing finacial situation would be a factor. The district must offer salaries and benefits which will continue attracting top-flight personnel. This must be balanced against the need for essential services and programs which will maintain the district's viability. However, if the district's financial situation were to deteriorate, requesting employee concessions regarding salaries and benefits might become necessary. At present, the board and district employees have an excellent working relationship. Maintaining that relationship would be essential to dealing with situations calling for potential employee salary/benefit concessions.
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 defintiely would not support such an increase merely to boost penion benefits for administrators, including the superintendent. This long-time practice in many Illinois school districts has severely inflated the pension costs being borne by Illinois taxpayers. It is a completely unjustifiable practice. The district must pay administrators, including its superintendent, in a manner that rewards their efforts. However, that pay must be kept reasonable in light of the district's and the State's financial situation. As a Board Member I will work to keep salary, benefit and pension amounts fair but reasonable. Properly structured contracts and long-term financial planning will allow the district to accomplish this.