Michael Papka: Candidate Profile
Batavia Unit District 101 School Board (4-year Terms)
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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: Batavia Unit District 101 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, two children (ages 9 and 11)
Occupation: Scientist and Professor
Education: BS in Physics, Northern Illinois University MS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Illinois at Chicago MS in Computer Science, University of Chicago PhD in Computer Science, University of Chicago
Civic involvement: PTO volunteer, kids soccer coach
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
I believe that our children's education is the most important investment we can make in our community and that we need to do everything possible to make it the best it can be while being fiscally responsible.
Key Issue 2
I believe that we need to reevaluate priorities and decisions on a regular basis; choices that were made at one point in time may no longer be valid or better opportunities might now be available. An example of this would be the decision to increase the number of students in the classroom or the elimination of foreign language in elementary education - when do we re-examine to understand the long-term costs of these decisions?
Key Issue 3
I believe a school board member is a resource to the community acting as a sounding board, an observer, a bringer of experience, and an interested community member who should do their best to help with the education of the children of the community.
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 think the common core standards set a baseline, they should not be where we stop in the education process. The superintendent is responsible for setting the curriculum that meets the district goals and state requirements. However, given the school board employs the superintendent, I believe the board plays a very active role. Am I an expert in curriculum development? No, but I think each board member either via experience or training, brings something to the table when evaluating the curriculum. Lastly, I think the curriculum needs to balance the encouragement of creativity and freethinking with the core standards. A student that learns how to learn with a solid core will be well positioned for the future.
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?
Our experience with Grace McWayne has been outstanding, the teachers and the administration have all been fantastic in the education of our children, responding to our questions, and allowing us to be part of the educational process. While I don't have experience beyond the elementary schools, I believe our experience to date is representative of the Batavia school system as a whole and I look forward to being involved in the future. More so than at any time in the past, the district needs to be able to adapt to an ever changing world both in the space of preparing students for higher education or full-time employment.
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?
Given the current/recent economic times, budgets are always a concern. The school board has done a good job shrinking the deficit while maintaining a high standard of education. Education is an essential investment we need to make in our community it's not a simple decision.
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?
Each group needs to be addressed individually, you can't ask for concessions every year. If we want the best education possible for our children, we need to pay for it, this means being able to pay the teachers a competitive salary and benefits. At the same time, the school employee groups need to adjust expectations based on the current state of the economy.
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. Pay, pay raises, and bonuses should be based on established rates, performance and years of service NOT upcoming retirement. We should do right by our superintendents and administrators over the life of their career, thus eliminating the need for a last minute fix as retirement approaches.
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