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updated: 2/22/2013 6:21 PM

Michele Hawksworth: Candidate Profile

Lake Villa District 41 School Board (4-year Terms) (Democrat)

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  • Michele Hawksworth, running for Lake Villa District 41 School Board (4-year Terms)

      Michele Hawksworth, running for 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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Lake Villa

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Lake Villa District 41 School Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 47

Family: Married to husband, David for 20 years. 4 children, college freshman through 7th grade. All of my children are in or have gone through Lake Villa District 41 schools from kindergarten through 8th grade.

Occupation: Elementary School teacher - I taught for 12 years in Palatine, IL before leaving to raise my children. Most recently I taught First Grade for 2 years at Hooper School in District 41. I was let go due to workforce reduction.

Education: B.A. in education (Northern Illinois University, 1987) M.A. in education (Concordia College, May 1991, emphasis in Curriculum Writing)

Civic involvement: PTO President PTO Vice-president, Thompson School District 41 Fun Fair Co-Chair Thompson School Teacher Appreciation Week coordinator Hastings Lake YMCA swim team concessions director Scholastic Book Fair Chairperson, Thompson Elementary School, 2000-2010 - Chaired 16 Scholsatic Book Fairs. Responsible for all marketing, set up and execution of fairs.

Elected offices held: PTO President PTO Vice-president, Thompson School

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

My first priority would be to deal the district deficit by working cooperatively with the administrators, staff and other board members. I would like to see this done without raising taxes, but rather through facility contraction.

Key Issue 2

I am interested in learning more about the new teacher and administrator evaluation process which has recently been implemented by our district. A priority of mine is maintaining or finding the best possible educators for our district.

Key Issue 3

Communication with the community. It is imperative that the board and the district communicate with parents and district residents to keep them informed and school and district issues.

Questions & Answers

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 a close look at switching to grade level schools. There are a variety of scenarios as to which grades would be housed at which school. By having all classes of a grade housed in the same building you can more easily divide the children into evenly sized classes, thus saving money on staff. I would also anticipate a cost savings through the combining of curriculum materials. Finally, having all the teachers in the same building would allow for better collaboration.

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?

From my experience as a parent and teacher in the district, I have seen that our district does strive to maintain a high quality, current curriculum. I have experienced many curriculum programs during my children's time (13 years) in the district in my opinion some good and some not so good. I believe the quality of the curriculum is tied directly to the presence of a curriculum director. We have not always had a curriculum director in our district and I believe during those times the curriculum has suffered and has been diverse between the schools, rather than more uniform. I would strive to always maintain a curriculum director in our district, which we now have.

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?

The relationship needs to be one of respect and understanding on the part of board members and school staff. The current board does seem to communicate well with district administrators as far as I can tell from attending board meetings. The school board needs to be more hands on and visible to the staff. Having board members available to staff for feed back on programs and school issues is a very important issue for me.

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 only way to attract and maintain high quality teachers is through fair pay and benefits. This, however, needs to be balanced with the financial situation or district is in. I would seek to maintain employee benefits with fair pay increases. I would also like to investigate the possibility of setting up total tuition reimbursement for those staff members pursuing a master's degree. This would match the current program which pays for administrators working on their doctoral degree. I agree with the commitment whereby administrators need to stay in the district for 3-years after attaining there Ph.D. or repay most or all of their tuition and I would include this requirement for staff members attaining a masters using tuition reimbursement.

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 standards are set by the state of Illinois. The state seems to swing like a pendulum in education, with something new appearing every few years. I look to the administration to keep the school board current and informed. Setting curriculum is the job of the Curriculum Director. They have the training and education to make these decisions and the board needs to be able to trust that they will make the correct decision. Various committees which include administrators and staff contribute to this decision making process. As a former teacher in the district my main concern is how often new curriculum is introduced. The parent side of me shares this same concern as I saw my children go through several reading and writing curriculums. I would seek to improve the parent involvement at curriculum meetings.

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