Kathleen Hirsman: Candidate Profile

  • Kathleen Hirsman, running for

    Kathleen Hirsman, running for

Updated 3/10/2015 5:28 PM

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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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City: Clarendon Hills

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Candidate did not respond.

Age: Candidate did not respond.

Family: Husband: James Hirsman, Hinsdale Central alumnus. We are 30-year residents of Clarendon Hills.

Occupation: Loyola University Chicago School of Law Faculty

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Education: B.A. Kalamazoo College M.A. University of Illinois-Chicago J.D. Loyola University Chicago

Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.

Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.

Questions & Answers

How satisfied are you that your school district is adequately 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?

Hinsdale District 86 has a history of excellence in preparing students for post-secondary education and fulfilling employment opportunities. It is imperative that we maintain that tradition through effective and efficient board governance. For 25 years, as a school attorney, I counseled school boards in board governance and best practices in school administration. For the District 86 Board to govern effectively, it must restore a positive climate that fosters trust, respect and collaboration between all stakeholders -- the Board, its administration, its educators and staff, and the community.

What budgetary issues will your district have to confront during the next four years and what measures do you support to address them? If you believe cuts are necessary, be specific about programs and expenses that should be considered for reduction or elimination. On the income side, do you support any tax increases for local schools? Again, be specific.

As to expenditures, it is critical that the District 86 Board spend its financial resources efficiently, effectively, and in a manner that most directly supports the District's excellent educational programs. There should be no need to cut professional staff, essential support staff and educational programs and resources that directly benefit students. Instead, the Board should eliminate wasteful spending in outsourcing of services that can be competently performed by its administration and staff. As to revenue, I support generating revenue that is essential to sustain and grow the excellent programs of District 86.

Are you currently employed by or retired from a school district, if so, which one? Is any member of your direct family - spouse, child or child-in-law - employed by the school district where you are seeking a school board seat?

I have not been employed by a school district. No family members are employed by Hinsdale District 86.

As contract talks come up with various school employee groups -- teachers, support staff, etc. -- what posture should the school board take? 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?

As a school attorney for 25 years, I negotiated a number of collective bargaining agreements between boards of education and professional and support personnel. Realistic expectations on both sides are important, and in this time of uncertain educational funding, respectful, informed discussion and a practical give-and-take approach is essential to reaching a deal that the parties can live with. What is critical to successful contract negotiations is reaching compromise, protecting the public finances while maintaining productive, positive relationships between the Board, its administration, its teachers and and support staff. There is no room in any negotiations for taking an approach, by any party, that says it's 'my way or the highway.' Cordiality and civility are essential to productive negotiations that lead to a positive result.


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?

I would not support significant salary raises in the final years of employment to increase pension benefits. Such an approach, while currently legally permissible, is simply unsustainable in today's economy.

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

The issues of trust, respect and collaboration are imperatives that I want to further cultivate among all groups both within our schools and throughout the District 86 community. I have a passionate commitment to public education. I teach education law and policy and labor and employment law to law students, teachers, school administrators and doctoral candidates in educational leadership programs. I guided school boards and their administrations in tackling complex legal issues and resolving disputes in the areas of labor negotiations and employment issues, civil rights, teacher performance and evaluation, special education, and student discipline. I want to give back to my school community and be a positive contributing force in effective Board leadership to maintain the excellence of our District 86 schools.

Please name one current leader who most inspires you.

Pope Francis leads with humility, sincerity and compassion. He reaches across diverse interests and ideologies, inspiring others to see the good in mankind.

What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?

Growing up in a family of six children, I learned the importance of consideration of others, putting aside differences, and focusing on positives.

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

In addition to attaining my law degree, I would have pursued a doctorate in educational leadership.

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

As an avid reader, my favorite subject in school was English. Among many things, it helped me to become an effective, persuasive communicator.

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

Be kind, be compassionate, be tolerant.