Steven Spurling: Candidate Profile
St. Charles Unit District 303 School Board (4-year Terms)
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: St. Charles
Office sought: St. Charles Unit District 303 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married to wife Diane, 3 kids (2 East HS, 1 Wredling)
Occupation: Columbia Management, Regional Vice President, Institutional Retirement Investments
Education: B.S. Illinois State University, '87. Major - Economics
Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.
Elected offices held: President, CUSD 303 Board of Education, 2009-present.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Ensuring that the education that District 303 students receive consistently exceeds expectations. This means constantly reviewing curriculum and development programs and having a viable process for measuring success. In addition, it is critical that the district and administration truly listen to parents and students.
Key Issue 2
To slow the rate of spending growth in District 303. This is always a challenge because we already have a fairly lean budget yet many of our biggest costs increase every year (salaries, fuel, food, etc).
Key Issue 3
Maintaining best use of facilities and resources in financially challenging times. While the main focus should always be money spent in the classroom, we still need to make sure that our students and teachers spend their day in a safe, clean, learning-conducive environment.
Do you believe St. Charles Unit District 303 taxpayers should shoulder more of the responsibility to fund local teacher pensions? Why or why not?
Absolutely not. This is a system that has been fully funded for years. Unfortunately, our state leaders have spent the money elsewhere. I could only agree to consider this if the district is given the freedom to run the pension as they see fit (without state governement string attached).
What is your opinion of transition to grade level centers for the former Davis and Richmond Elementary schools? Should that approach be used with any ther district schools?
The changes that were made at Davis and Richmond have been very successful. Although I originally voted against the proposal, I have been very impressed with the results. That success is very much the result of great support from parents and students at the schools. Going forward, it is a very viable option as we put more emphasis on STEM at the elementary level and as we face declining enrollment across the district.
Do you support the current financial plan to increase the overall tax levy for the school district by 2.5 percent every year for the next five years? Why or why not?
I don't like anything that is going to raise my already too high property taxes. However, this is a smart way to keep the increases consistent through periods of high debt payment rather than having spikes in the levy.
Do you support the results of the Summit 303 process, which called for more foreign language classes, a wider range or electives and a computer for every student in the district? How would you pay for them?
There are currently a number of changes being proposed at the middle school level that address foreign languages and electives. I am in full support of these as long as they don't distract from the primary, core subjects. Having a computer for every student would certainly be nice. We have seen that students with access to computers or iPads embrace the technology and thereby embrace learning. Unfortunately, that will probably come down to a cost issue.
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?
Common Core Standards should be viewed as just that, standards or minimums. I would hope that our curriculum always includes the core standards but also much more.
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