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updated: 3/20/2017 3:36 PM

Michael Raczak: Candidate Profile

Indian Prairie Unit District 204 School Board

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  • Michael Raczak, running for Indian Prairie Unit District 204 School Board

    Michael Raczak, running for Indian Prairie Unit District 204 School Board


Back to Indian Prairie Unit District 204 School Board


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.

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City: Naperville


Twitter: @RaczakRaczak

Facebook: Raczak204

Office sought:

Indian Prairie Unit District 204 School Board

Age: 64

Family: My wife, Mimi, and I have two adult daughters, Kristin and Anne.

Occupation: Retired Educator

Education: M.S. Ed - Special Education

B.S. Ed - Elementary and Special Education

Civic involvement: I currently sit on the Indian Prairie 204 Board of Education as vice president. As a Board of Education member, I represent the Board on the Naperville Collaborative Youth Team.

Elected offices held: Board of Education - 2013-2017

Questions & Answers

With growing concern around mental health and addiction, what should the district do to build mentally healthy students, support the mental health of students who have mental illnesses and help students avoid addiction?

Indian Prairie schools have recognized that students can not reach their full potential unless their physiological and psychological needs are being met. As a result, our schools continue to build a social emotional curriculum strand into school day instruction. Students need to feel safe to share their concerns in a welcoming non-judgemental environment.

In addition, the school system needs to continue to reach out to our parents, community agencies, police and hospitals in order to disarm the stigma of mental health and addiction issues. With collaborative and coordinated community efforts, serious inroads can be achieved.

As teachers use more and more technology in the classroom, how much should the district continue to support the eLo online learning consortium and the STEM Partnership school at Aurora University? How should spending on these technology-related learning experiences be balanced with other educational and financial priorities?

The very best school systems need to create and facilitate innovative learning environments to prepare students for college and careers. As a sitting board member, I have supported and continue to support the eLo consortium and and the STEM partnership school.

I support the eLo program since it a collaborative effort among three school districts to provide high quality on-line learning in a a locally supported and and controlled environment. Also, virtual learning opportunities abound in post-secondary institutions, it appears these are critical skills for future success. Finally, I am hoping that online classes will allow for additional educational options for our students in their high school career.

Not only is the STEM Partnership school a cooperative effort among several school districts, but is also a collaborative undertaking by the Dunham fund, the state legislature, the city of Aurora, Aurora University and business partners. The STEM Partnership school is not a charter or magnet school, but it is its own unique entity governed by the school districts. Clearly, this model deserves investigation.

Although there are additional financial costs for the employment of three teachers and student transportation for participation in the STEM school, both the consortium and the school are governed by Memorandums of Understanding that allow boards to review accountability data for on-going effectiveness.

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?

It is important to note that writing and recommending curriculum is the responsibility of the school superintendent and staff. Boards of education approve the recommendations of the administration. When considering approval, it is important for a Board member to consider the curriculum writing process, the age appropriateness of the content and materials, and the finances necessary to support the curriculum.

I have been excited by the efforts of our staff to build a future ready curriculum. Future ready schools combine high quality teaching and technological advances in order to make more personalized and individualized learning possible.

This type of instruction will allow our students to be successful in college, careers and citizenship.

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 or fee increases?

Changes in the education funding formulas, potential property tax freezes, shifting pension responsibilities or legislative inaction could affect our school district operations. District 204 took a very aggressive role with the legislature in challenging a funding formula that would have been disastrous for our community. Together with our constituency, the bill was shelved for future consideration.

The Indian Prairie School Board has a long history of fiscal responsibility. If cost reduction is necessary, teaching and learning must become the first priority. Tax increases and large fee increases have always been considered last. I am confident that if future financial issues dictate cuts or tax increases, the Board would engage the community and administration in determining the education they would like to provide for their children in most financially responsible manner possible.

What role can and should school choice play in your district? If Congress or the state approves a voucher system or other means giving students broader choices among public and private schools, how will that affect your district? What is the appropriate response for the board of education of a public school system?

The state of Illinois has not funded the foundational level of education to any of its school districts suggested by its own Educational Funding Advisory Board since 2002. As a result, I feel that a board member from a public school system should reject the notion of a voucher system that would take away funds from districts who have not received adequate funds for over 10 years. Clearly, an already District 204 lean budget would be affected negatively.

If an eligible charter program approaches the district, it is necessary by statute for the Board to evaluate their proposal. Minimally, the Board would need to assess the purpose of the school, its enrollment procedures, and its prior accountability data. Given the breadth and the depth of the Indian Prairie curriculum options, a charter school would need be quite unique to be considered.

What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?

School boards know that they are in the business of providing superior education to its children. Careful monitoring of the academic achievement demonstrated by various student population groups continues to be a priority. Although District 204 is a wonderfully diverse school district, achievement gaps do exist. Active problem solving with our students, parents, staff and administrators must occur when any group does not achieve at the highest level of performance.

Please name one current leader who most inspires you.

My mother, who is the leader of our family. She sacrificed many of life's pleasures to guarantee that her children would experience success.

What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?

If you work hard and never give up, you can be successful.

If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?

Although I have experienced the joy and heart ache of life, I would not take a do-over. I have learned from each experience.

What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?

Social Studies. Social studies allowed me to understand the beautiful diversity of our world.

If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Treat others as you would like to be treated.