Brett Clark: Candidate Profile
Itasca District 10 School Board
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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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Family: Jill Clark, wife; Jackson Clark, son and student at Lake Park High School; Rowan Clark, son and student at Peacock Middle School.
Occupation: Communications and Marketing
Education: University of Illinois, Bachelors of Science in Journalism; Accredited Public Relations, Universal Accreditation Board.
Civic involvement: Member of First United Methodist Church, Elmhurst, IL; Former Itasca Youth Baseball Coach; Former Itasca Youth Basketball Coach; Former Glenview Kiwanis Member.
Elected offices held: North Central Region Vice President on the National School Public Relations Association Board (2011-2014); Illinois Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association Board (2003-2007).
Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
I am interested in helping Itasca School District 10 continue to provide an excellent education for students. I am confident my nearly 20 years of experience as an administrator for school districts in both Missouri and Illinois will help me be a productive member of the board and assist the entire board to make sound decisions. My previous experience on both national and state boards also will allow me to be a productive school board member immediately. I believe one of the most important issues the school board will need to navigate is the potential influx of students from the new apartment complex currently being built in Itasca. It will take a collaborative effort of the entire board to continue to stay educated on the issue and make proactive decisions to ensure the high quality of education continues as new students begin to enter the school system.
What do you think about the process for measuring student success in your district? Is it adequate? What changes, if any, do you propose?
There are many ways to measure student success including: standardized test scores, formative and summative assessments in the classroom by teachers, surveys that measure the social-emotional supports available for students, civic involvement of students, and extra-curricular opportunities for students. By most of those measures, Itasca School District 10 is an excellent school district. My son, who is a freshman at Lake Park High School, was well prepared for the rigor of the curriculum at the high school based upon the quality of the education he received during his nine years in Itasca School District 10. In relation to any potential changes in how student success is measured, I would rely on the administration to provide recommendations related any improvements. The members of the administration are the educational experts in that area and should provide the board with sound recommendations for consideration.
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?
I believe the school board has several oversight roles. These include: setting and approving policy; evaluation of the superintendent and his/her progress toward the board approved stated goals; approving and ensuring the implementation of the strategic plan; and diligently managing the fiscal resources provided by the taxpayers to the school district. It is my opinion that the school district administrators and teachers should set the curriculum for the school district. I believe the curriculum should be reviewed on a regular basis with the entire board in order to ensure the learning in classrooms is in concert with the community values. The administration should also provide recommendations on changes to the curriculum to the board of education when they believe those are needed.
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 or fee increases?
Currently, Itasca School District 10 is in a strong financial position. The district recently made a decision to implement full-day kindergarten. That is a decision I support based upon the educational benefits for students. However, that decision will need to be closely monitored to ensure the estimated costs of implementation were accurate and that the overall budget is not being negatively impacted in ways that were not anticipated. The potential addition of more students from the new 297-unit apartment complex currently being built is another potential budget issue that will need to be closely monitored. That could result in increasing enrollment that might necessitate difficult decisions by the board of education. I would advocate for the board to be fiscally conservative when considering any new initiatives. The educational benefits of any new initiative would be my filter for decisions along with the anticipated return on investment of the initiative. I also strongly support providing teachers, support staff and administrators with a fair compensation package that is competitive in the area. This will help Itasca School District 10 attract and retain high quality educators, which is the single most important factor in the success of a school district in my opinion. There is currently no need for additional revenues for the school district. However, if that becomes the case in the future, I would initially want to hear recommendations from the administration for cuts or budget reductions prior to supporting a potential tax rate or fee increase.
What role can and should school choice play in your district? If Congress or the state approves a voucher system or other means giving students broader choices among public and private schools, how will that affect your district? What is the appropriate response for the board of education of a public school system?
I strongly support public education and believe that public schools are the foundation of our country. Public schools open their doors to all students, no matter their race, socio-economic status, religion or disability. I do not support efforts to pull funding from the public schools to fund charter schools. If Congress or the state approved a voucher system or other means of giving students broader choice among public and private schools, I believe the high quality of education provided in Itasca School District 10 would be an incentive for families to make the choice to send their children to Benson, Franzen or Peacock Middle School. In the event this does happen, I believe the appropriate response for the school board would be to ensure that parents understand the high-quality programs and services being provided in Itasca School District 10 so they can make an informed choice on where to send their children to school.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
One of the most important issues for me as a school board member is to ensure that the administration, union, and board of education are on the same page about how best to ensure all students are receiving a high-quality education. I would welcome collaborative discussions between those three entities on a regular basis to ensure each group is aware of each other's concerns and challenges. I would also encourage open and honest dialogue between the three groups in order to build trust so they can work together to solve problems collaboratively. I also feel strongly that parent and community voices need to be sought out and heard on a regular basis. Stakeholder feedback is the foundation of a high-quality school district, and I would want to ensure those conversations take place on a regular basis. These would be an opportunity for the school board and the district to learn from its constituents.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Tell the truth, work hard, and treat others with respect ... and good things will happen.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Being and even better father and husband.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
English. My teacher pushed me to do more than I thought I could accomplish and helped set me on a successful path in life.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Tell the truth, work hard, and treat others with respect ... and good things will happen. Also be sure to have some fun too!