Bill Wilson: Candidate Profile
Geneva Unit District 304 School Board (4-year Terms)
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.
Office sought: Geneva Unit District 304 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Connie Wilson -- Wife
Lindsay Wilson -- Daughter, 21
Elizabeth Wilson -- Daughter, 13
Evan Anast -- Son, 10
Sophia Anast -- Daughter, 6
Occupation: Senior Project Manager, Shales McNutt Construction
Education: Geneva Community High School -- 1978
University of Iowa, BS Civil Engineering -- 1982
University of Illinois, Urbana, MS Structural Engineering -- 1984
Civic involvement: Committee Member Elgin Community College Foundation
Adjunct Professor Waubonsee Community College
Previously coached Geneva Park District Girls Softball
Previous member St. Peter Church building committee during school expansion
Elected offices held: Geneva school board since 2011;
Previous Plan Commission member, Winfield IL 1993 - 1998
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: no
Key Issue 1
Continue to see growth in student achievement in a cost affordable and sustainable manner.
Key Issue 2
Sustainability in the following three areas; taxes, spending, academics. District spending must be kept to a sustainable level so current residents can afford annual tax payments but, at the same time, we must be able to maintain a quality education for our students to adequately prepare them for a future in an ever changing world.
Key Issue 3
Continue to find ways to improve communication with all stakeholders in the school district (taxpayers, parents, etc.) and be transparent in all actions of the Board. I believe that transparency is always something that any public body can improve upon. Over the last 12 years, I believe that the School District communication has improved greatly. However, I do believe we can continue to find ways to improve.
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 standards are raising the bar and will help make our children better prepared for their future. Whereas Geneva School's already have highly qualified personnel in place to teach the new common core requirements, we in Geneva will be able to continue to do what we have always done and that is to prepare our children to be lifelong learners, good problem solvers, and to be prepared for any and all challenges that may come their way in the future. Further, as we do not teach to a test, but rather prepare our students to succeed, I believe that we will continue to see growth on the new evaluation methods that are created to measure our children's common core progress in the years to come.
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?
At this time, we have one of the top performing high schools in the State, and our middle schools and each of our elementary schools are consistently mentioned in the top schools in our area by local media. That alone does not mean that there is no room for improvement. I believe that the district is doing many great things to improve; we use data from a variety of assessments to target areas of need for students, subject area, grade level, etc., we are looking to add professional learning communities at the high school to promote educational improvement, we continually look at curriculum K-12 to find ways to push rigor and learning opportunities down to lower grade levels, and we are always working with each student to make sure that all of their needs are consistently met on a daily basis.
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?
Debt: Research has indicated that the most cost effective manner of controlling the tax burden on the resident of School District #304 is through tax abatement, the crediting back of dollars that have accumulated in other District accounts in lieu of collecting new tax dollars. Abatement should be coupled with periodic refinancing when new bonding rates are advantageous and will not add additional years of repayment. I am a proponent of using these methods to keep debt assessment at levels as close as possible to current levels.
Taxes: Keep district spending in check through prudent review of annual budgets.
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?
By far the biggest accomplishment during the last year was the new teachers' contract. The Board and the teachers reached an agreement forming the basis for a contract that is sustainable from a current and future salary basis, and has curtailed/eliminated portions of the contract that are obsolete in today's world. This new contract agreement was reached without allowing the threat of a strike to weaken the Board's resolve to achieve these goals. The steps initiated this year must be continued into the future.
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?
In Geneva, we have worked very hard over the last several teachers' contracts to keep pension spiking salaries to a minimum, and have been successful in keeping them at levels substantially below those of neighboring school districts. As a result of the last teachers' contract, we in Geneva will be eliminating the pension spike permanently at the conclusion of the current contract. As our administrators have traditionally received the same salary spike at the conclusion of their career as our teachers, the salary spike will now be a thing of the past. As for our superintendent, I would also not support any salary spike to inflate future pension payments.
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