ASAD ("SID") AMAN: Candidate Profile

Palatine District 15 School Board

Updated 3/20/2017 3:34 PM
  • ASAD ("SID") AMAN, running for Palatine District 15 School Board

    ASAD ("SID") AMAN, running for Palatine District 15 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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Office sought:

Palatine District 15 School Board

Age: 41

Family: We have two children in District 15 and one in District 211

Occupation: Electrical Engineer





Civic involvement: I volunteer at various locations through the HandsOn Suburban Chicago volunteer matching organization.

Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.

Questions & Answers

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?

The simple answer to why I am running for school board member is that I want to serve the community. I have always been very interested in exploring how best to learn something, and by extension how best to teach something. I enjoy volunteering in community service projects, and I'm always looking to do more. With my involvement in spending a lot of time in informally analyzing from a numbers standpoint the school boundary plan in the recent referendum, I realized that serving in the school board would be a good way to serve the community as well as be involved in fostering the best environment for teaching/learning. Determining and implementing the fairest and most optimum way to realign the school boundaries in the district continues to be one of the issues that motivates me. I am also very interested in promoting and facilitating strategies that supplement each student's unique needs by using low-cost technology in the form of online learning.

What was your position on the district's proposal to build two new schools, which failed in the November election? Why? How should the district address its facilities needs over the next two years? Would you support another referendum, and if so, how do you think a plan can be developed that would pass?

I think the plan behind the referendum did not address all the boundary alignment issues (and in fact created new ones) and had too high of a price tag. It would have benefited many neighborhoods, but it would have not been a positive for just as many neighborhoods. Whenever the public is asked for money in a referendum, the plan behind that referendum must make things better for *everyone* so that the only question the public is asking is can we afford financially to do these great things. I have done a lot of analysis and I have found that you can fix all the boundary issues and implement full day kindergarten without having to build 2 new schools. There is some expansion needed, but the money for that (which is significantly lower) can come from the district's cash reserves. Please see for details. I have also identified 7 neighborhoods out of the many that have alignment issues {i.e. go to a school much farther away instead of going to school in the local neighborhood, going to different middle school than rest of elementary school (or different high school than rest of middle school)} that can be fixed by Fall 2017. Again please see my website for the data-driven methodology I used to determine these 7 neighborhoods.

As contract talks come up with other employee groups, do you believe the district should ask for concessions, expect costs to stay about the same, or provide increases in pay and benefits? If you are an incumbent, why did you support the 10-year teacher contract? If you are a newcomer, what's your view of the contract? Would you support similar length contracts for other employee groups? Why or why not.

My hunch is that the district should expect costs to stay about the same with respect to other (non-teacher) employee groups. But thorough financial and relevant data analysis should be performed for each employee group to answer this question; and then the district should take a position accordingly. As for the 10-year teacher contract, as a newcomer, I think a long contract is not good for teachers and it's not good for the district. It prevents all players from adjusting to market trends in a quick and efficient manner. It makes it easier for other school districts to compete for teachers since they can be more flexible due to their shorter-term contracts. Unless I get direction from the community otherwise, I would be hesitant to support similar length contracts for other employee groups. The discussion of teacher's union contract is one that stirs up a lot of emotions. And it's understandable "“ you're talking about someone's livelihood and at the same time you're talking about impact to everyone's expenses in the form of higher property taxes. So it is imperative that we compare the district's contract with many other similar districts, and make sure that the contract is comparable. Even now, the district should launch a public campaign that explains the teacher's union contract, addresses the critiques of it, and compares in detail to other districts. I suspect there is a lot about the details of the contract that is not understood and should be clarified.

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?

Unless directed otherwise by the community, I don't support any tax or fee increases. As the state legislature is formulating some form of property tax freeze, it will become more important for the district to rein in costs and look for alternate sources of income such as grants. I am sure there are areas in which the district can scale back costs. I think creating a culture of doing thorough analysis comes into play here. There should be an even more exhaustive annual review of every budget item to determine where costs can be cut "“ an unrelenting commitment to this is will make the district more fiscally responsible. Each category of the published 2016-2017 expenditures of $171M, consisting of: Instruction Certified Staff Salaries (39.7%), Other Instruction Salaries (13.7%), Employee Benefits (10.4%), Fire Prevention & Safety (8.5%), O&M (6.5%), Transportation (5.4%), Municipal Retirement / Social Security (3.2%), Debt Service (3.2%), the rest (9.4%) should be looked at to see if costs could be cut. Among other things, perhaps the debt can be paid down more aggressively to reduce the current annual $5.5M in debt service, and perhaps there can be more negotiation with providers of employee benefits to reduce provider administrative costs.

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 think the district should already act as if there is school choice in play. The district should do whatever is necessary to improve the quality of education so that going to a public school is seen as the better academic option. The district should evaluate what makes parents send their children to private school right now, and compete by offering whatever that is lacking in the district. Having a nationally or state mandated voucher system would affect the district by reducing its income "“ and so the district has to get creative and provide cost-effective programs through the use of technology and online learning that broaden the students' options and address their academic weaknesses. In addition to this, a further appropriate response for the board of education of a public school system is to promote the importance of a public school education so that public schools remain a vital piece in the hearts and minds of everyone since the education provided by this system is what makes our economy thrive in the long-run.

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

Since deciding to run for the school board, I have talked with many in the community, and I have learned a lot more about the district. One area that I have learned more about (and still need to learn more about) is the bilingual program in the district. I would like to have the district evaluate the reasons for integrating students from the bilingual program to the mainstream program in 3rd grade, and if it still makes sense to do so "“ or does it make sense to integrate much sooner.

Please name one current leader who most inspires you.

Warren Buffett for popularizing philanthropy as the final resting place for the wealth of other leaders.

What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?

Education and keeping an open mind are the keys to success.

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

I wouldn't do anything over again; but if I have to answer, probably listen to Warren Buffett's investing advice sooner!

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

History and math/logic. Loosely speaking, history helps with coming up with ideas, and math/logic helps evaluate those ideas.

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

Slow and steady wins the race. No matter how daunting a task is, be consistent by taking one step at a time until finished.