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updated: 2/22/2013 6:22 PM

Gregory Smith: Candidate Profile

Kildeer Countryside District 96 School Board (4-year Terms)

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  • Gregory Smith, running for Kildeer Countryside District 96 School Board (4-year Terms)

    Gregory Smith, running for Kildeer Countryside District 96 School Board (4-year Terms)




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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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Long Grove

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Kildeer Countryside District 96 School Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 48

Family: Married 25 years, 2 children (11 & 9)

Occupation: Investment Manager

Education: B.S in Finance, University of Akron, 1987 Chartered Financial Analyst (2000) Certified Financial Planner (2011)

Civic involvement: Various Running Organizations

Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Improve transparency. Our schools do a great job communicating to the parents. However, the Board of Education can improve their communication. I would propose to webcast all board meetings so everyone can view them at THEIR availability. I would also initiate an annual "State of the District" to all residents. I also think we need to be clearer in any current budget or policy issues facing the district. We all have a stake in our district, either as a tax-payer, or a tax-payer and parent.

Key Issue 2

Improve representation and eliminate potential complacency. After this school year, if the current board is re-elected, 6 out of 7 members will NOT have any children in District 96. Also, 3 of the 4 incumbent candidates, would be serving either their 3rd or 4th term. Board members should represent all community members, both parents and tax-payers. Members without children in the district don't have first hand experience in some of the issues facing our kids. I will not serve more than 2 terms, allowing fresh ideas to come from the community.

Key Issue 3

Strong fiscal oversight. Our District is blessed with a strong residential tax base that does not rely on state funding. However, we also do not have much business within the district, which puts a greater burden on homeowners. Plus, with home values dropping, tax revenue has been curtailed. Many districts like ours have a 10 - 12 year tax cycle, meaning a referendum is most likely going to occur within the next few years. Having a financial background, I understand the challenges of financial planning and would work to reduce as much spending as possible without reducing the great education our children receive.

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?

The Core Standards is a federally mandated program designed to raise the educational standards to worldwide standards. It is designed to improve exactly what should be mastered and where the child stands within that mastery. District 96 already does a fine job in preparing our students to certain standards, and I will support the implementation of these standards. However, it is important that our students not only be taught to "standards", but be given the flexibilty to learn what is required on the next level. I do not like "teaching to a test", but rather teach life skills to ensure our kids are successful on the next level and beyond.

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 96 does a good job preparing students for the rigors of District 125. However, I believe we fall short in foreign language. Currently, only Spanish is taught on the middle school level. I would like to see additional options (not mandates) be available, such as French, Latin, and possibly Chinese. I also believe options should be available at a younger age. Foreign language improves diversity and is a stepping stone for future success.

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?

State budget issues are always a concern for local school districts. A cut in any funds from the state, as well as the Pension issue that dogs Illinois certainly will put the district in a financial crunch. We, as the district need to continue to work with our government to reduce the financial impact the state financial crisis may cause. Cutting programs without discussion with administration and other board members would be irresponsible. I have no plans on cutting any specific program. However, we must continue to tighten our belts to reduce the financial impact to the taxpayer. Partnering with neighboring school districts to leverage our financial position for operational contracts can be one way to reduce costs. Our district already has high taxes. I would look elsewhere first and work to reduce expenses before I would support any tax increase.

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 teachers are our school's most important resource -- without them, our children would not learn. Fair pay is critical to retain the very best teachers. District 96 does a good job in fair pay and has worked well with the teachers union to ensure pay increases are tied to the CPI index/cap -- so not to overburden the taxpayer and to ensure teachers are fairly paid.

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. Our superindenent is competitively paid and boosting pay to any state employee just for a bigger pension would not benefit the district and would only burden Illinois tax payers more.