Tony DeMonte: Candidate Profile
Woodland District 50 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.
City: Gages Lake
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Woodland District 50 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, father of four children. One child went through Woodland schools, two are currently enrolled and one is a couple years away from entering Kindergarten.
Occupation: School District Administrator: Coordinator of Instructional Technology for Zion Elementary School District 6. Author: Interactive Whiteboards in the Elementary Classroom published by ISTE. Taught Kindergarten at Woodland between 1999 and 2006.
Education: B.S. Elementary Education, M.Ed. Technology in Education, Certificate in Administration and Supervision.
Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Protecting a strong instructional program that challenges all learners and meets the needs of individual students.
Key Issue 2
Making sure the District hires and retains the best instructional staff. Schools are about teaching and learning. If strong teachers are hired and retained, measurable student growth will be found in all classrooms. Every child in our community deserves a great teacher.
Key Issue 3
Fiscal stability of the District and accountability of how tax dollars are spent. The District must live within its means, prioritize funding to support instructional programs, factor sustainability in all decisions on programs and purchases and be accountable to the taxpayers.
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 State Standards will provide a laser focused, skill-based instructional framework that will strengthen the core instructional program. The rigorous and ambitious framework will raise the level of instruction at all grade levels. Expectations of students must also be raised. The Board should provide high-level guidance, support and resources, if needed, to support its implementation. Day to day implementation will be done by the teaching staff with Administrator guidance. Our role as Board is to develop policies that are reflective of legal mandates, hire the best staff, represent the needs of the community and promote a positive educational climate. Aside from legal mandates, specific adjustments curriculum should be developed by our staff after referencing strategic planning documents, Common Core State Standards and learning standards of other leading organizations.
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?
Woodland has a strong instructional program. This is partly due to the grade centered structure. By having many colleagues who specialize in different areas of the curriculum, there should always an in-house expert that can be sought for support. Our teaching staff is strong in part due to this organization. As the Common Core State Standards are rolled out, there will be better alignment with our high school counterparts as all Districts will be following a comprehensive framework. An open line of communication should be maintained especially as our respective curriculums are adjusted. Any opportunities for staff or resource sharing should be explored.
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?
Our District will need to continue confronting the uncertainty of State reimbursements. We need to work on stabilizing our funding and not rely upon funding that does not come in or comes in on time. Cuts should occur during a program review process. All programs should be evaluated regularly. Questions should be asked like is it instructional, how many students or staff are affected and how much money does it take to support the program. From that process with various stakeholders, programs should be ranked and adjusted if needed. If the community wishes to keep a high level of services, then all options for income must be explored.
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?
As negotiations take place, concessions are suggested as a last resort and should not be ruled out in its entirety. During uncertain economic times, it is fair to suggest to live within ones means. We as taxpayers do this personally and as a taxing body, we should do the same. The ideal situation is to always be competitive with neighboring Districts to attract and retain the best staff. Second best situation is adjust salary/benefits for cost of living increases. On the other side, costs should minimally remain the same. Concessions cannot automatically be ruled out but should be reserved for worst case scenario. There may be a time when substantial program cuts are explored. That may be a time where concessions are discussed. Again, this should be last resort.
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 do not support this practice. It is unfortunate that Districts have done this in the past. It has partly contributed to the pension problems we are facing. It does not make it equal if it was done for some historically and then not for others going forward. However, the line in the sand needs to be drawn and pay should be commensurate with experience and value added to the organization. Pay should not be increased solely to boost pension benefits.
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