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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: Vernon Hills
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Diamond Lake District 76 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, 2 children
Occupation: Chief Financial Officer - Chalet, Wilmette, IL
Education: BSC - DePaul University MBA - Lake Forest Graduate School of Management
Civic involvement: Vernon Hills Finance Committee - 1994 to 1998 District 76 Strategic Planning Committee 2004 District 76 Board of Education 2005 - present
Elected offices held: District 76 Board of Education 2005 and 2009
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
Recently, the District had a consultant review the technology needs of the District. The report shows upgrades are needed to the infrastructure, hardware and software used by the district. We will be working on a 3-5 year technology plan to address these needs. We feel these upgrades will lead to a better educational environment for the students which will result in higher test scores.
Key Issue 2
The district has worked hard to maintain a solid financial condition over the past several years. We passed a referendum in 2008. Due to a subsequent drop in revenue, we needed to cut expenses by $1.3 million in 2011. The district has had a balanced budget in 7 of the past 10 years. In the other 3 years, the district spent reserves in order to purchase textbooks, update technology, etc. Our first priority is educating our children. We need to continue to find ways to maximze our revenue, update textbooks, curriculum, and technology. We need to continue to be prudent in managing our budget. Going forward, the focus needs to be on our children, not cutting costs.
Key Issue 3
Our superintendent started with the district on July 1. He has been very busy learning the strengths and weaknesses of the district. The district needs to work with Dr. Petrella and provide him the resources needed to implement his plans for the district moving forward.
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 am very much in favor of the new common core standards. The standards are more rigorous than what we are using currently. The board has a role in setting the direction for the district's curriculum but should rely on the administration's expertise to implement the curriculum. I have full faith in our administration to work on continuously improving our curriculum.
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?
My 2 children have gone thru the Diamond Lake schools from K-8. They are both currently at Stevenson High School. My experience is that our children are very well prepared for moving from elementary to high school, academically and emotionally. Our placement results and freshman grades show our students perform very well at both Stevenson and Mundelein High Schools. I would like to see more programs and classes aimed toward our higher achieving students so that they may take more advanced classes in high school.
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?
I supported increasing our tax levy by approximately 9% for the next school year. We had gone thru a 4 year period where our tax rate was frozen. Combined with a decreasing EAV, we saw our revenues drop. Increasing the levy will give us the additional funds needed to catch up on improvements we were not able to make over the last 4 years. As mentioned before, we need improvements to our technology. The district needs to upgrade our textbooks as we comply with the new common core standards. I'm very proud of our after school and extra curricular programs. We have been able to keep these programs even when our revenues were decreasing.
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?
We negotiated a new contract with our teachers last year. Our teachers are historically among the lowest paid in the area. Our new contract calls for increases of 2, 4, and 2% over the next 3 years. The funds are in our forecasts and we felt the increases would bring our teacher's pay more in line with other districts. We also avoided the costly and divisive strikes seen in other districts.
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 would not support a substantial increase in pay during the last years of a contract in order to increase pension benefits. When our superintendent retired June 30, we did not boost his pay to increase his pension benefits.