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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.
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Office sought: DuPage District 45 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married - Donna Craft Cain Three Daughters - Theresa, Senior at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology; Rachel, Sophmore at Truman State University; Deborah, Junior at Willowbrook High School and Keystone Online Learning
Occupation: Milburn Cain & Co., CPA
Education: Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Illinois State University, 1982 Juris Doctor (Law Degree) - IIT Chicago Kent College of Law, 1988
Civic involvement: Board Member, Lombard Church of the Nazarene Past President, Rotary Club of Villa Park Member, Village of Lombard Finance Committee
Elected offices held: Board Member, DuPage School District 45, 2003 - Present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Maintain the fiscal stability of the school district.
Key Issue 2
Implement policies to coordinate instruction and curriculum so that all students are prepared to be successful at the next level, including the transition to District 88 and Willowbrook High School
Key Issue 3
Ensure that teachers and administrators have the professional development and support needed to prepare for the implementation of new instructional mandates and programs while continuing to provide quality instruction to our students.
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 is a requirement that we must implement. It is causing schools to begin teaching subjects to students earlier than before. For students to be successful, it is imperative that they grasp these subjects at younger ages before moving to the next level. In curriculum, the board should recognize that it hires professionals in this area and must provide them with the support needed to ensure that they are prepared to implement these new standards. While the board has a responsibility to reflect community standards when adopting new curriculum, the students benefit when boards allow the professionals to do their jobs.
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?
This has been one of my top priorities since about 2005 when I realized that the ISAT standards were not consistent with the expectations District 88 had for the incoming students. To address these concerns representatives from our district, along with the other districts sending students to District 88, have begun to meet regularly with representatives from District 88 to coordinate the curriculum in order to provide a smoother transition from District 45 to the high school. Additionally, annually we hold a joint meeting with the other boards to update us on the progress being made at each district and to further investigate how we can support each other.
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?
The main budget issue facing our district is the uncertainty at the state. It is difficult to properly plan when you do not know when the state will send the money it has promised. It is difficult to plan when you don't know what your costs will be, particularly how much, if any, of the pension cost will be shifted to our district. About 4 years ago, we went through a series of budget cuts and staff reductions. Through that, we took a scalpel to the budget, reducing, but in most cases not eliminating, programs. Since that time, as we have regained financial stability, we have brought back some of the activities that were cut. We continually look at long term financial projections, trying to adjust the budget earlier, making smaller reductions that, over time, add up to larger savings. Unfortunately, when it comes to tax increases the tax cap that was intended to be a maximum also serves as a minimum. If we do not levy the full amount allowed under the tax cap in any year, we are unable to make up for it in a future year. Therefore, good financial management requires that we levy the maximum each year. However, assuming the state does not substantially cut its aid and there is not a significant increase in the district's pension costs; I do not believe there would be a need to go to referendum for additional tax increases.
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?
We are in the first year of a 3 year contract for our teachers and custodians so our employee costs for the next 2 years can be projected fairly accurately. We believe the contracts we have entered into will keep the district on sound financial footing throughout the contract term while fairly compensating those who work in the district. Therefore, while I do not believe we are in a financial position to provide significant increases in salary and benefits, I also do not believe we will need to seek employee concessions.
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. In the years I have been on the board, retiring teachers and administrators have received the same raises as other staff. It has not been our practice to inflate salaries in anticipation of better retirement benefits. Our philosophy has been that we would rather take the money that would be used to fund those raises and invest those dollars in compensating the staff during their service to the district.