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: North Aurora
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Aurora West Unit District 129 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, four children, three grandchildren
Occupation: Corporate Purchasing Director
Education: Bachelor's of Science, Business Administration, University of Phoenix
Civic involvement: Veteran's of Foreign Wars, Batavia Post 1197 American Legion, Cantigny Post 556 Gold Star Father's of America
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
Student's First. Every employee of the school district is there to support the students. The education and well being of our students becomes secondary when individuals put their own agendas first and foremost. No issue in the district should be more important than the care and education of our students.
Key Issue 2
Safety for staff and students. We do not have the same safety standards throughout the district. Reflecting on current incidents in the news, we have a program used at West High that security uses to screen everyone coming in through the front door but that program is deemed too expensive to put in our grade schools or middle schools. If the program is working for the high school, the district should find a way to get that program, or one similar, in all the other sites. Anyone entering any of our schools should be screened. We also need to provide additional training and support to our bus drivers that carry our students every day.
Key Issue 3
Fiscal Responsibility. The district has done a good job identifying some high dollar savings through the past few years, but the day to day expenses continue to climb. We have teachers that cannot purchase new school books to replace ones that are no longer serviceable, yet new iphones are seen throughout administration. A knee jerk reaction by the district put a window in every solid door so the high school now has a fire proof room that is no longer fire proof. The schools send out mass mailings throughout the year using first class postage when they are eligible for bulk mailing postage. We need to take a very close look at our every day operations and identify waste and unnecessary spending.
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 an excellent way of ensuring all students receive the same education. The board is responsible for ensuring the standards are held, but should be open to ideas from teachers that may have an original, or better, way of teaching the standard subjects to the students. Our school district has been very focused on preparing students for college to the point they have removed almost all classes focused on the trades. We have many students that wish to learn the trades, but to do so they have to attend classes off campus, missing out on other classes, or must wait until they graduate to receive their training. We must begin to bring those classes back to West.
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 feel we are doing a fair job getting the students ready to move from one school to the next within the district. We do need to make sure we have 5th grade team teaching in place at all the middle schools to to ensure all students in the district are given the same opportunity to succeed in the middle school environment. We are also doing our high school students a disservice by not requiring them to take notes. Almost all notes students need are provided to them throughout their time at West adding to their first year struggles at college trying to learn how to take good notes. Referring back to the first question, we need to bring trades classes back to West for those students that do not want to go on to college but want to enter the trades.
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?
We have various budget issues within the district, from building upkeep to proper safety measures. Some of these may be very difficult to take care of given our financial outlook, but before we start cutting programs we should take a very close look at our everyday operations throughout the district and identify waste and unnecessary spending. We also need to take a look at the number of staff in the district office. The staff there has continued to grow as we continue to cut teachers and other support staff in the schools where they are needed most. When it comes to taxes each year, the district is always ready to ask for the maximum amount to stay ahead of the curve. Tax increases are a necessity each year, but a closer look needs to be taken at our day to day operations before we automatically ask for the maximum allowed.
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?
The district can always ask for concessions from its employees during contract negotiations, but they must look at concessions the administrators have made first. If the administrators, across the board, are not willing to make the same concessions, then it is difficult to expect the employees to make the concessions. The same can be said for keeping costs the same or increasing pay or benefits. What steps are our administrators taking to set the example?
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?
No, I would not support any sort of increase to boost their pension. Administrators should not be treated any differently than any other staff member when it comes time to retire. Unless the district is ready to provide the same option to all other staff, and get voters approval for this option, then no increase should be allowed.