Laurie Christophersen: Candidate Profile
Emmons District 33 School Board (4-year Terms) (Independent)
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: Emmons District 33 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Single, two children, two grandchildren.
Occupation: Retired. Career- Medical Practice Administrator.
Education: ACHS Graduate 1967, Attended CLC, Medical Practice Administer with C.M.P.E. from accredited MGMA (Medical Group Management Association)
Civic involvement: Emmons School Volunteer and PTO
Elected offices held: Emmons School District #33 Board of Education
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Candidate's Key Issues
Key Issue 1
Students receiving the best possible individualized education.
Key Issue 2
At Emmons School, we have highly qualified teachers, who receive the support of the school board, parents and community. Teachers are the foundation builders of our elementary students.
Key Issue 3
Fiscal Accountability. At Emmons we have a fluid 3-5 year financial plan and work within the funds available to the school. We also have a +5/-5 tracking system we review each month from our Business Manager. Emmons School has been awarded financial recognition from the State of Illinois the past two years. We are fiscally sound, with a continual plan watching the legislative actions in Springfield and how it would impact Emmons.
Questions & Answers
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 concept of Common Core Standards will be good for all students. Once fully implemented students across the country will learn the same common core and be able to attend a different school and find the same set of core curriculum. The school board approves the curriculum for the district and the Superintendent implements the standards. As we do not yet have the full required common core curriculum, Emmons' staff will be given Common Core instruction for implementation. The ISAT this year will be based on Common Core standards, which I feel is a bit too soon as it takes time to instruct educators on the change of how the educational information will be delivered. As a board we support time allotment for teachers to learn the Common Core standards.
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?
Very well. Emmons School has a long standing accomplishment for sending students to high school. They enter a large student population and achieve a high success rate. They rank in the top of high school classes and go on to colleges and universities. After input from teachers, parents and the community involvement in strategic plan events, the Board of Education adopted a new mission statement this past year: "Working Together to Educate our Students for a Successful 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?
Emmons is a four square mile school district. The most important issue we face is a declining enrollment as there are no large housing developments and the slow housing market. We assess our revenues and at this time we are on a solid financial base. In the future, cuts would be made as needed, first by not replacing retiring teachers. We are determined to keep the high level of individualized education and have no plans to cut programs. For the school year 2012-2013 we expanded our Kindergarten program to a full day program and implemented a fee for that program. There is room for higher extra-curricular fees as needed. The only tax increase I support is the amount we are allowed by law, through the property tax valuation.
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?
I am currently part of the BOE negotiation team with our teacher union. These discussions are going very well as our staff is cognizant of the school finances. As this is an current ongoing process, I cannot comment further at this time, except to say that I believe that we will be able to ratify a three year contract starting with next school year.
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?
Last March our former superintendent resigned to take another post in a larger district. As a board we quickly took action for a search and in June hired an excellent candidate, who is now our superintendent. We did not substantially increase the salary for this position. Since we are a small K-8 district I do not believe our budget would allow giving a candidate a substantial increase in pay or pension benefits.