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.
Office sought: Geneva Unit District 304 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married Two daughters who attend Geneva High School
Occupation: Substitute Teacher, Community Volunteer
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Language and Literature, Governor's State University, 1983
Civic involvement: Geneva Strategic Plan Advisory Committee, Secretary Geneva Beautification Committee, Volunteer Geneva Historic Homeowners Association, Member State of Illinois School Success Task Force, Member State of Illinois Best Practices Subcommittee, Chair Congregational United Church of Christ, Vacation Bible School Committee Former civic involvement: Member, Geneva CUSD 304 Board of Education Coultrap Elementary and Williamsburg Elementary PTOs Member, P.R.I.D.E. Building Coordinator, Girl Scouts of America Co-Leader, Girl Scouts of America Sunday School Teacher, Congregational United Church of Christ Member, Facilities Task Force, Coultrap Elementary School
Elected offices held: Member, Geneva CUSD304 Board of Education, 2007-2011
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: no
Key Issue 1
As a member of the Board of Education, my main concern for the district is to ensure that all students receive a well -balanced education that prepares them for their future success. The implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the accompanying new assessment (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) will provide the opportunity to strengthen and enrich the curriculum as student expectations are raised. Whether the student is college bound or pursuing another path, we need to make sure that our curriculum and methodologies have prepared them for the next stage in their lives.
Key Issue 2
Declining property values and a lack of new construction, or new properties on the tax rolls, coupled with approximately $300M debt from previous referenda, have strained the district's finances. In addition, the state continues to underfund its obligations and the potential pension cost shift could add 2.6 M to the district's pension contribution each year. The district must continue to reduce its debt, whether through restructuring or refinancing of bonds or making thoughtful budget consolidations, without compromising the quality of education.
Key Issue 3
Effective dialogue with the community, parents, teachers, staff, and administration is an important factor in the successful management of a school district. Many issues facing our district are very polarizing, as seen during the teacher contract negotiations. To engage all stakeholders in the common goal of student success, the district must provide information that is mission oriented and shows data driven outcomes. An ongoing, collaborative, not adversarial, engagement of all parties through meaningful, clear, and accurate information sharing will enable the common values and vision for student achievement to be embraced by all.
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 rationale for common core standards is sound; individual states should have shared goals and expectations to prepare all students to be successful in the 21st century global economy. By offering guidelines, the Common Core State Standards Initiative is recognizing the local control school districts have on choosing curriculum and delivery methods best suited to their individual student populations. Each Board of Education creates a mission statement and policies that direct their educational models and curriculum. The role that the Board plays should be to promote curriculum that supports state mandates while continuing to teach critical thinking and problem solving skills, encourage creativity and perseverance, and help students to develop real-life skills.
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?
The district does an excellent job of preparing students for each of their school transitions. Fifth grade is a pivotal year in fostering greater student responsibility and independence and acclimating students to the process of changing teachers and subjects, skills necessary for them to succeed in middle school. An end of the year visit to the middle school and ample opportunities before the fall school year begins to visit for locker set up allow the students to transition from an elementary school setting to a team center setting. Middle school students make high school campus visits, as well as attend orientation sessions to allow for a more seamless transition into high school. Geneva High School boasts a graduation rate of 96.9%, compared to state average of 82.3%, and an average ACT score of 23.9, compared to 20.6. Diverse coursework, including Advanced Placement, honors, and vocational classes, coupled with career shadowing, college and armed service representatives, and career counseling contribute to the continuing success of our students. It is important to continue to monitor and improve curriculum and instruction to guarantee continued success for the students of District 304.
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?
The continual decline in property values, the chronic inability of the state to fund its educational obligations, and the termination of many state and federal dollars make it necessary to re-evaluate and prioritize programs and expenditures for areas to consolidate, eliminate, or re-structure without adversely affecting our educational model. The long- term debt, incurred from various referenda, continues to be an area that should be monitored for restructuring and refinancing. Any tax increase should reflect a thorough examination of all expenditures and potential budget cuts that have been evaluated for their impact on student performance and success.
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?
Contract talks should reflect the current economic climate and the district's overall financial health. Before contracts expire, all stakeholders should be represented equally in the discussions. Each group should negotiate in good faith and understand that the process of negotiations includes compromise. When goals are clear and expectations are defined, the process will be rational and objective.
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?
Historically, salary bumps have been used to encourage employees at the top of the pay scale to retire. While this has oftentimes resulted in short term savings for the district, it has increased long term cost obligations. I do not support any substantial increases in pay to help boost pension benefits.