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: I have been happily married to my wife for two and a half years and we are expecting our first child, a little boy, in July.
Occupation: High School Mathematics Teacher and owner of the small business, "Elite Chess".
Education: Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2008. Masters of Arts in Educational Administration, Concordia University Chicago, 2011. Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Administration, Concordia University Chicago, 2014.
Civic involvement: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
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
My number 1 campaign issue is increasing the quality of the already reputable education that is offered in Geneva schools. With my background in education from one of the top districts in the state I understand the steps it will take and the support for our schools that is necessary to take the district to a new level. Geneva does well compared to the surrounding communities, but I believe we can do well compared to all communities. Through the integration of technology, incorporation of 21st century skills, and transition to the common core curriculum our district can become more than a county leader, but a state leader. This can be accomplished as long as we understand that education is the single greatest investment a person or community can ever make for their children.
Key Issue 2
My number 2 campaign issue is fiscal responsibility that does not come at a cost to the quality of education that is offered in Geneva Schools. The cost of education is constantly on the rise due to increases in insurance costs, energy costs, and the need to compensate employees in a manner that will attract top talent to the district. This can be accomplished by using the funds that we already have.
Key Issue 3
The 3rd campaign issue that I am passionate about is to ensure the possible redistricting taking place in our district is done in a fair and equitable manner. Redistricting was attempted in Naperville Community School District 203 last year and the results negatively impacted the community. I would like to ensure that lines were drawn in such a manner that families would not be forced to send children to different schools than their siblings had attended, that grace periods were implemented to allow current students to remain where they are, and that direct neighbors would not be attending different schools.
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 shift to the common core is a good thing. It allows for consistency in curriculum throughout the state. It is important for districts to know that the curriculum they are offering is going to be of the same magnitude of other districts. This ensures that our students will be adequately prepared when they go to college or enter the workplace. As a member of Naperville Community Unit School District 203's common core curriculum team I understand the support that this requires and the steps to make the transition take place seamlessly.
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?
I am satisfied with the quality of education that is being offered to the students in our district compared to the surrounding communities. The scores clearly show that Geneva students are competitive often with a lower instructional expenditure per pupil. However, I would like to see an increase in the quality of the 21st century skills offered to our students through programs that incorporate technology in the classroom. The face of society and education is shifting towards a more globally connected, technological environment. We are educating many of our kids for careers that have not even been created yet. They need the technological and collaborative skills to be relevant in this changing world and we can prepare them for it now.
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 district is facing some budgetary issues in regards to its debt and debt services. I believe that with responsible use of the tax abatements and possible debt restructuring we could avoid tax increases unless absolutely necessary.
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?
A school district, its employees, and the community should have a very close relationship with one another. Anytime this type of relationship exists there needs to be compromise on all sides. As contract talks come up I believe that all sides should expect to make some concessions as they work to give the other side what they desire. An example of this would be the Geneva school teachers taking a salary freeze a few years back and agreeing to a half-year salary freeze this year.
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?
If our district had an administrator nearing retirement I would not support an increase solely for the purpose of boosting pension benefits. However, often those increases are put into place to ensure that administrators announce their retirement in such a way that allows the district ample time to work on a quality replacement. I believe that ensuring a quality replacement to often be well worth the increases that exist. The cost of lost years and replacing an administrator who was hired under time pressure would be far greater than the increase in pay.