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Office sought: Libertyville District 70 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, 3 children
Occupation: Cook County Public Defender Chief, Multiple Defendant Division
Education: BA from Valparaiso University, 1985 JD from DePaul University, 1988
Civic involvement: Served as Little League Coach 10 years, Libertyville Girls Softball Association: Director of Umpires, Boys Scout Troop 72, Venture Crew 72, Cub Scouts Pack 71, Former 2nd Vice President and Secretary of Rockland Family Association, Former President of Highland Family Association.
Elected offices held: Vice President and Chief Steward of Public Defender Local 3315, 1993 to 2003
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: None
Key Issue 1
Fiscal responsibility. The District has an excellent track record of providing the highest quality education without the need to raise taxes. I would like to see this continue in this current economic environment.
Key Issue 2
Maintain the highest quality of district staff. District 70 has been ranked annually as a school district where students continue to exceed national averages and state averages. The district staff is key to this success. With the teacher evaluation framework legislatively changing in 2016, the need for highly qualified teachers that can demonstrate a student's growth is a direct result of their teaching methods will be key.
Key Issue 3
Having District 70 be a leader in Elementary School Districts in the State of Illinois and the country. Our Distict staff have been requested to make presentations to other districts on issues and implementation of programs.
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 the common core standards have not taken place without some reservations by many parents in the District. The shift is not a concept that was easily grasped by me and I had to have many conversations with our current Director of Curriculum. The shift began at the grass roots and has been adopted by 45 states. This shift to common core makes it easier to compare all students not only in Libertyville, Illinois but in the country. Common Core sets out what all students at a certain grade level in Language Arts or Mathematics are expected to know. It focuses on what is most essential. It provides a base for fundamental knowledge needed to be college and career ready. It does not tell the teacher how to teach so that the student obtains this knowledge but when and what concepts need to be taught at a particular time. The Board of Education are key in retaining or hiring the staff that can execute the common core standards so all of the students are ready for the next grade as well as transitioning into high school and eventually college. Since I am not a professional educator, I do not feel comfortable suggesting changes to current curriculum. As a parent in the district with three very different educational achiever, I have nothing but positive feelings about the cirruculum that District 70 is providing our students.
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?
I am very satisfied with how the district is preparing students for the next stage in their lives. The only area that I have ever had concerns is in the area of transitioning students with special needs from elementary to middle school and then to high school. This is an issue that is personal to me and at times it is a situation that can be overwhelming. I would suggest that caseworkers transitions with students from one school to the next in a cooperative effort. The caseworker would personally be familiar with the student and could assist the new school in understanding the student's strengths and weaknesses. The student's file cannot always capture the student's needs because the student must be observed.
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?
District 70 has over the 14 years I have resided in Libertyville maintained a very sound fiscal budget. The school board is always faced with changes in the student population which requires the shifting of staff and resources. There are no programs that should be reduced or eliminated at this time. Expenses always need to be addressed and expenses can be cut by contracting with vendors that give the best product at the best price. The District has cut expenses by sharing duties with Oak Grove School District. As for tax increases, I would oppose any tax increase unless this was the last resort. The idea of tax increases is the simpliest way to address funding but not the most creative way. The District has and I believe will continue to find creative ways to cut expenses and fund programs without raising taxes.
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?
During tough economic times, there should be concessions on both sides. We must make sure that the District continues to maintain a strong ficial base. Teachers, support staff and administers should have benefits and salary that demonstrates the District's commitment to employ the best teachers, support staff and administrators. Employees should contribute to pensions and health care at the same rate. Their salaries should not be diminished by having them contribute more to benefits. All employees should receive an increase in salary to assure that we keep the best staff. The raises should be in line with the current economic environment.
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 pay increase to boost pension benefits. As a member of the Cook County Employee Pension Fund, I have seen numerous abuses in other pension funds. The pension benefits should be based on the average salary over a period of time of your actual salary and not some artificial salary. The benefits should be earned but with that being said any reduction in benefits because of mismanagement or under funding by the State should not be held against the teachers and administraters that have contributed annually to their pensions. The state teacher pension is the only retirement fund available to the teachers and administrators. The public should know that public employees do not pay into nor do they receive Social Security. If an individual were to earn enough quarters to be eligible for Social Security, Social Security Benefits are reduce to almost zero based on a teachers/administrators school pension they receive.