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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.
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Big Hollow District 38 School Board (4-year Terms)
Age: Candidate did not respond.
Family: Married, 4 children, 2 grandchildren
Occupation: Produce clerk
Education: Candidate did not respond.
Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.
Elected offices held: Big Hollow Dist.38 Board of Education Member
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
School Security/Student safety. Big Hollow has had an ID scan system in place for many years to make sure no one with a criminal background enters the building. I believe there are a few more things that can be done in order to improve security such as, more cameras in the buildings, outside the buildings as well as on the buses and instituting a system that does not allow entry to the main offices until you are buzzed in.
Key Issue 2
Curriculum/ Common Core Standards. Implement a system to monitor the implementation of common core standards by receiving regular periodic reports (monthly, bi-monthly) from the professionals that are implementing the standards. These updates to the board should be presented in various forms, from the administration as well as classroom teachers. Ensure Big Hollow has the appropriate staff in place to implement the most effective programs. The successful implementation of common core standards will play a huge role in the state-required evaluation system on how successful teachers are teaching, students are learning and making teachers and administrators accountable on the results. Schedule updates on what is being done to achieve the district's goal that programs, services and curriculum will be challenging, comprehensive, and appropriate for all learners. Make it a priority for the board to monitor and keep informed on these programs.
Key Issue 3
School Finance At the last strategic planning session, attended by the board, staff and community members, one of the district goals was:?By 2014 Big Hollow School District will acquire sufficient funding to sustain and improve our educational process in order to maintainRecognitionstatus as measured by the state financial report.? Big Hollow will have a deficit of approximately $1.5 million at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. Reductions will need to be quickly investigated. I believe that the board needs to thoroughly review all items proposed and make reductions that will have the least affect on student learning. There are years of data available through the regional office of education that show that Big Hollow has consistently handled finances well while providing quality educational programs for all students. The next 6 months will be crucial in the financial future of the district while taking into consideration reductions that may need to be made while being affected by the tax cap, the decrease in state aid as well as numerous other funding cuts from the state.
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?
Illinois is one of more than forty states that has adopted Common Core Standards. I think the Board's role is to monitor the implementation by receiving regular periodic reports (monthly, bi-monthly) from the professionals that are implementing the standards. These updates to the board should be presented in various forms, from the administration as well as classroom teachers. Under the new PERA laws, teachers will now be held accountable through the state-required evaluation on how successful teachers are teaching and students are learning. It is not the role of a school board to change curriculum. It is the responsibility of the board to set policy and have the appropriate staff in place to implement the appropriate programs. It is then the board's responsibility to monitor and keep informed on these programs.
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?
Big Hollow offers a vigorous curriculum that makes accommodations to a large spectrum of students from special needs to enrichment programs taught by highly qualified teachers. Due to this combination of effective programs and personnel, I am satisfied with how Big Hollow prepares its students for high school. Big Hollow students attend Grant High School. Grant has 5 different schools that feed into it. A number of 8th grade Big Hollow students currently go to Grant to take regular or Honors high school math classes. If you look at the number of Big Hollow students that are in the top 10 of each grade level class at Grant, you will find that a large percentage of those students are Big Hollow graduates.
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?
Big Hollow will be facing numerous budget issues. At the end of last school year, the projected deficit (June 2012 PMA report) for the 2012-2013 school year was approximately $440,000 (without early tax money). Currently we are looking at TAW's ( Tax Anticipation Warrants, money borrowed against future taxes) at 1 million dollars in addition to a 1 million dollar line of credit ( may not all be used) to meet this school year's financial needs. It is the responsibility of the board to be good stewards of the taxpayers? money. The spending trend in the district has greatly increased in the last 6 months. The board needs to have the ability to and "The willingness to spend the time required to become informed and to do the homework needed to take part in effective school board meetings. A Good Board Member spends 10-20 hours a month in Board work.? (http://www.iasb.com/pdf/YourSchoolBoardandYou.pdf). Under the current board agreement, board members are not given the means or the support to do the job they have been elected to do. The district needs to revisit its spending now. The less we spend now, the fewer reductions we will need to make later. While we are just in the beginning stages of planning for the next school year, I believe that reductions in personnel or programs may need to be made. I also believe that everything needs to be reviewed to determine what reductions will have the least impact on student learning. I cannot give a definitive answer on what I think will have to be reduced until I have received all of the information, review recommendations, complete my own research to the best of my ability and determine the effects the proposed reductions will have on the students of Big Hollow. (The Daily Herald survey needs to be completed by noon on Feb. 4th and we are just beginning the process at Big Hollow.) The Big Hollow superintendent has proposed the possibility of full day kindergarten for the next school year. While these kinds of programs look attractive to the community, board members have an obligation to be fiscally responsible; the members need to review all documentation pertaining to the costs of all newly proposed programs. I would love to implement new programs but I also need to look at what is best for the entire community. For instance, would full day kindergarten lead to larger class sizes in other grades due to the need to make reductions? Will other grades receive less time in art, music, computer and physical education to accommodate full day kindergarten? How will lunch/recess be affected? I cannot answer this at this time because I do not have all of the information. While I do not support tax increases, I do believe that a school district should levy and receive all funding that is available to it due to the funding reductions in Illinois general state aid and program grants.
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?
I cannot comment on this at this time. The Big Hollow contract expires this year and it would be unfair for me as a current board member to comment when anything I say could be used against the board in future negotiations. The School Board and the Union have had a standing agreement to negotiate at the table and not in the press.
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?
Big Hollow had a superintendent that retired last year. No bonuses were given. The law does not allow for an increase greater than 6% in the last 4 years of service. The previous superintendent notified the board of his retirement 2 years prior to his retirement. The previous superintendent would have been entitled by law to be paid for 180 sick days and did not request payment for any. With the current economy and Big Hollow's current financial needs, I do not support any substantial increases in pay. I believe that as the CFO of a school district, a superintendent needs to be the example for the rest of the district and exhibit fiscal responsibility.