Mike Lanners: Candidate Profile
College Of DuPage School Board (6-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: College Of DuPage School Board (6-year Terms)
Family: Divorced, Two daughters
Occupation: Retired from College Of DuPage Part-time stage video/photographer Part-time Stage FX artist
Education: A.A. College of DuPage 1973, R.C.M.A.certification (Boston) State of Illinois Vocational instructor Certification
Civic involvement: Greenman Theatre (Elmhurst) Wheaton Drama (Wheaton) Performing Arts (College of DuPage) Prufrock Productions (Elgin)
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
Pension reform is a real hot issue. There are no less than 3 bills lined up that would severely effect the operation of the College of DuPage. All of them would require the college to pay an additional 1% of the yearly payroll to the state, in addition to the employees paying an increase of 2% over the next 2 years to their insurance and pensions. We can't change what the governor signs. We have to work with it. That would mean we would have to increase income and reduce costs, in order to control this challenge. I would do it by decreasing projects rather than reducing staff. Steps exist to save the College money, and forestall a future tax increase. I think we should simulate our thinking as would any homeowner who is on a tight budget. In this instance, we must reject amenities that inflate costs, and say?NO? to those who advocate such spending. As a father of two daughters, I learned how to sayNO? a long time ago. Some people can't remember how.
Key Issue 2
The board itself needs to be more responsive to the taxpaying public, even in a most basic fashion. I have attended board meetings and witnessed trustees failing to look up from their laptop computers and make eye contact with a speaking audience member. One recent board assembly saw a testy taxpayer chide members for not responding to email messages. A more troubling example involves a group of past student trustees who questioned why the death of a former student trustee had been ignored by the school. Only three board members offered the common courtesy of visual acknowledgement. Being on the College of DuPage Board of Trustees requires a six-year commitment, and also a precise understanding of the many facets of the school's functions. Current board members head their own businesses, and some have sought or will seek higher positions. Conflicted attention, or preoccupation with outside affairs, seems to pervade the sitting board. Due to these various commitments, trustees often lack the time necessary to understand certain issues that carry implications beyond what printed reports may reveal. As a College of DuPage retiree, I am able to walk the halls and speak to administrators, staff, instructors and students and listen carefully to their concerns. Every board member's chief goal should be to invite public input, listen to community input and act accordingly. I am willing to make that commitment.
Key Issue 3
College of DuPage needs to step up and help our returning veterans. We should expand the weekend and intensive study courses in order to help them train for jobs within an expedited time. Many vets will not have jobs to come home to, and some employment positions they previously held may have been with businesses that no longer exist. My ideas may mean an expansion of programs that already function well at COD. Not only should we concentrate on certificate-based course work such as HVAC maintenance or automotive transmission repairs, but also Associate's degree studies to which a returning veteran may seek. I believe we may need to perform research to learn what percentages of vets will be coming home and looking toward building new careers in their post-service lives.
The college last year engaged in a lengthy legal battle with the village of Glen Ellyn over local building codes and jurisdictional matters. As a board member, what would you do to avoid such lengthy conflicts in the future.
College of DuPage needs to be more sensitive to Glen Ellyn's needs. Also, the village should recognize COD's long-standing contribution to the community and the notoriety the institution generates. Each side brings money to the other, and as such, both entities need better mutual commitments to foster future growth. That said, I would be open and available to discuss any future concerns before they become a legal battle. That fight was long, and cost both sides money, tax dollars, that could have been better spent.
What steps should COD take to improve its relationship with the faculty?
I would provide more transparency and push to think more than two chess moves ahead. As a union steward for the Post Office, I found that real truth and success in negotiations result from being upfront. The board almost certainly knew of the implications of Senate Bill 1313 that Gov. Quinn signed into law last summer. I know I did. If the board did not bring up the bill during negotiations, that would not stand as good faith. Similarly, if the faculty representatives did not recognize the effects of 1313, then they need to better understand the news coming from their state government.
In tough economic times, many students (and working professionals) turn to a community college for its educational value. How do you ensure that a person's financial sacrifice results in an educational benefit?
The educational value is the actual teaching of courses and the learning derived by students. I think College of DuPage needs to increase its visibility in the community by illustrating what the college has to offer. It is frustrating when I see handouts emphasizing the look of the campus, of pretty pictures of students reading books outdoors. That is of some value, but not an educational one. COD has always been a commuter school. Its young students attend classes, engage in extracurricular school activities or employment, and return home for further studies. What should be driven home is that College of DuPage remains an economical option for students seeking an Associate's degree or certificate, and an opportunity to gain academic experience that can be used at a major university or institution. We must emphasize the college as an alternative scholastic route. What the college has done well is the development of its certificate program, notably the OTR truck driving courses and the hotel/food service hospitality courses. Private, online schools offer similar training curricula at inflated tuition charges. COD provides the benefits of lower semester hour rates and the chance to interact in real time with instructors and fellow students. Degree and certificate candidates also gain hands-on experience with equipment found in their chosen fields. Earning an Associate's degree or certificate from College of DuPage offers a finer, well rounded scholastic experience for students of any age. I support any program expansion that generates greater enrollment and community participation while enhancing the school's prestige.
Is a tax rate increase needed and, if so, how do you justify it?
A few weeks ago, I would have saidno? regarding a tax increase. As of now, this issue is in a state of flux with the state's approval of Land Banks. These institutions with foreclosed properties on their rolls may now merely dump said properties onto the state and not be required to pay taxes on them. This loss of revenue would be significant. I would say there is a future possibility of a tax increase. The land bank issue effects everyone in the County and state. With the county taking that much of a future loss, it is necessary for the College to tighten it's belt. It's the right thing to do. Our taxpayers support us, we should support them.
Community colleges provide many services to a diverse population. Is there a service your college should be providing that it is not, or reaching a segment of the population that it is not?
I think we should investigate locations within the district and rent space in downtown areas, preferably near railroad stations. Rented satellite locations, such as COD's Lombard facility, bring in revenue for the host towns. Also, in the long run, the college saves money by not being forced to erect new buildings on what is now becoming an overcrowded campus. People attend a community college such as COD not because of its neatly mowed lawns or shady trees. They come for an education. By working with the local municipalities, we can identify unused spaces in downtown areas and utilize them as satellite venues. I?ve been involved with the school in some fashion for roughly 36 years. I started as a student, and continued as a student employee in COD's original IT department. I was on a team to campaign for the first tax increase the college sought in the early 1970s; I met with business leaders, clubs and civic organizations on the needs for additional tax revenues. Later on, I volunteered time for the Performing Arts Department in the production of stage plays and other functions such as forensics. And in 1979, I began work as a night shift custodian, and eventually was promoted to the supervisory staff. I?ve walked the college's campus, and I know the school. I relate to students because I was one. I realize the difficulties of being a student employee because I was one. I know the anxieties of part-time employees because I was one. And I know the commitments made by full-time staff members because I was one. These experiences at College of DuPage allow me a unique perspective on the school's many services. Such knowledge, I feel, would prove beneficial as a Board of Trustees member.
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