Jolene Lee: Candidate Profile
Lake Villa District 41 School Board (4-year Terms)
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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: Lake Villa
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Lake Villa District 41 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, six children
Occupation: currently a full-time mom, taught art previously at Old Orchard Junior High in Skokie District 68
Education: Bachelor or Science-Art Education, University of WI-Madison Master of Education-Interdisciplinary Studies in Curriculum and Instruction-National Louis University
Civic involvement: 2011 Citizen Recognition Award in School District 41 for volunteer contributions Painted a bear for the 'Bears on the Chain' community art event in Antioch for charity
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: Candidate did not respond.
Key Issue 1
Accountability of top leaders and board with the use of tax dollars needing to be spent in ways which directly benefit our children.
Key Issue 2
Putting new leadership in place when the contract expires for the District 41 Superintendent.
Key Issue 3
Making the priorities of the board be those of the parents/community members. Getting proper input from the community as well as principals and teachers when important decisions need to be made.
District 41 faces a large deficit and tough financial choices. Name one step you would push on the board to address the situation. Please explain your idea.
I would push for administrative cuts. We cannot afford to have an assistant superintendent. In addition, we need an administrative pay freeze. Our administrators are paid well above the state average with our teachers paid well below the state average. There is skewed spending toward administrative costs above and beyond salary including high cell phone bills, grad. school tuition paid in full, insurance benefits paid at 100% to administrators while our teachers get a fraction of that, etc. Large amounts of money have also been spent on furniture for the district office and on travel by school board members to conferences. This needs to stop.
How satisfied are you that your district is adequately preparing students for the next stage in their lives, whether it be high school, college or full-time employment? What changes, if any, do you think need to be made?
I am dissatisfied with the preparation, given how much our oldest son struggled with his transition to high school this past fall. Better study skills need to be taught along with maintaining a well-rounded education. District 41 has reduced programs for children in art, music, P.E., and computers (specials) and has instead poured big money into instructional coaches and administrative costs. Our classroom teachers lost planning minutes this year due to the specials program not being fully staffed, which in turn cut into the delivery of the core curriculum subjects. In addition, our kindergartners lost 30 hours of instruction this year. Staff development along with questionable administrative costs have trumped our children getting a balanced education.
How would you define the ideal working relationship between a school board and its administrators and teachers? To what degree does your school district represent this relationship now?
There should be input from all areas to have a successful dynamic within a school system. This has glaringly not been done in District 41. Our principals have not been asked about what programs in their buildings are successful and the teachers have never been polled regarding the value of a million dollar literacy coaching program. The parents have never been collectively asked if this is a priority for the education of their children. As a result, our arts program is now diminished, classroom teachers have lost planning minutes and as a district we are deeply in debt. Large amounts of tax payer money have been spent on a 'coaching program' without proper evaluation or input.
As contract talks come up with various employee groups what position should the school board take? Should the district seek concessions, expect employee costs to stay about the same now or provide increases in pay or benefits?
The district needs to put an administrative pay freeze in place until we get to the point where the teachers are receiving adequate and proportionate compensation.
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 believe the idea to create a national standard is a good one in theory, but it puts yet another burden on our teachers. Guidelines and standards need to be in place. However, leaving adequate room for creativity in the classroom is key. I believe with proper leadership, the board's role is only one of overseeing that curriculum is updated when necessary and implemented properly. Our teachers, principals and top administrators should mainly handle curriculum issues. In District 41, there have been many changes in curriculum in recent years. This has made the job of teaching harder and has incurred much expense to the tax payers. We need to settle in with the things we have in place.
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