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: Arlington Heights
Office sought: Arlington Heights District 25 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: My wife of 22 years, Katie, and I were raised in this community. Our daughters, Amanda and Emily, are students in 8th and 5th grade in School District 25.
Occupation: I?m a Financial Advisor with more than 22 years of experience. In 1998, I established Page Financial Advisors.
Education: Bachelor's degree in Finance from Northern Illinois University, 1990. Also, I have earned the professional designations of CFP? (CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER) and ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant).
Civic involvement: I have enjoyed volunteer coaching 16 seasons of soccer for my daughters? teams.
Elected offices held: I was elected to the volunteer position of Arlington Heights District 25 School Board in 2005, and re-elected in 2009, and I currently serve as the President of the School Board. Also, I have earned the designation of Master Board Member from the Illinois Association of School Boards.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Top Quality Education for the Students of District 25
Key Issue 2
Fiscally Responsible Budgeting for District 25
Key Issue 3
Long-Term Financial Health for District 25
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?
This is something that District 25 has been planning for since 2010, which puts us ahead of the curve compared to many districts. I believe the common core standards will put children from across the country on a more level playing field in terms of what they are taught, how they are taught, and how we can evaluate a school in Illinois compared to a school in any of the other 46 states that have adopted these standards. The Board's job should be to ask relevant, essential questions during the curriculum planning and review process to ensure that it is the best curriculum for our students. The administration and staff are tasked with the job of designing and implementing the curriculum for students. District 25 regularly reviews and updates curriculum to increase rigor for our students and to help prepare them to reach the heights of their individual abilities. We are currently evaluating our math program to make sure it meets the common core standards, and helps all children achieve their highest potential. We want students to not only learn the mathematical concepts, but also to attain the lifelong mathematical practices that they will need.
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?
District 25 has done an excellent job in preparing our students for what they will need for success in high school and for a lifelong love of learning. A look at our EXPLORE test scores shows that District 25's students are very well prepared to enter High School Distinct 214 and succeed. Several of our schools have won the National Blue Ribbon Award, and most recently were awarded the Illinois Honor Roll Academic Excellence Award. Today's students need more than just curriculum standards, which is why District 25 prepares them with critical life skills such as problem-solving ability, persistence, resilience, creativity, and innovation. Preparing our students for the 21st century global economy they will be a part of when they grow up is one of our main objectives, which is why I will work to ensure that District 25 is student-focused and student-centered in planning for the future.
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?
As School Board President, I have been a part of ensuring that we are fiscally responsible when budgeting. Among other measures, we have implemented zero-based budgeting to control costs. As a result of this careful planning, we have healthy financial reserves of over 80% of our budget. The District will have all long-term debt paid off by the end of this year, and the debt levy on property tax bills will then go to zero. Also, we will not issue additional debt for operating expenses, like many other districts have done. Our 5-year financial projections show us to be on stable ground in the future as well. One of the biggest budget issues any school district in Illinois has to face is the lack of state funding and the uncertainty of future funding and mandates from the State. Illinois is consistently two quarters behind on paying what they owe to schools across the State, and it doesn't look to improve anytime soon. Additionally, the State is looking at shifting some of the its financial responsibilities onto the local school districts for employee pension contributions, so school districts have to be prepared for the possibility of that added expense. I will work to make sure that we are always analyzing the long-term impact of any financial changes to the school district, and making changes accordingly, to ensure that District 25 will not propose a tax-rate increase referendum like so many other school districts will in the coming years.
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?
To ensure our District remains financially stable, and is able to continue delivering a top quality education to our students, we have worked diligently with our various employee groups, and through joint agreement, have linked their salary increases to CPI (the cost of living index, reflecting inflation). So now our main source of revenue (property taxes) and our main source of expenditures (personnel) are both tied to CPI, and that will help to keep our District in healthy shape going forward. We regularly review our 5-year financial projections to reflect this financial stability.
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 that idea. It is not fiscally responsible, and does not help to improve the quality of education for our students (which are two major factors I consider when evaluating expenses). In fact, our Superintendent is retiring next year and, through joint agreement, we have not given her an increase in pay in the last 2 years. So, we did not give a substantial increase in pay to help boost her pension benefits nearing retirement. School Districts are stewards of the taxpayers? monies, and now more than ever, they need stretch those dollars as far as possible to educate the young minds that are the future of our community.