Andrew Williams: Candidate Profile
Grass Lake District 36 School Board
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.
Twitter: Candidate did not respond.
Facebook: Candidate did not respond.
Family: Wife - Lori Williams
Daughter - Kathleen (Katie) Williams
Son - Lucas Williams
Occupation: Director, Building Codes and Standards
Education: Marquette University - Civil Engineering (BS)
Civic involvement: Grass Lake School Board - Community advocate on several committees (Building, Strategic Planning)
St Raphael Church - Knights of Columbus
Former Eagles and Rotary Club Member (Paul Harris Fellow)
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
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?
This would be my first office in Antioch. I started attending the School Board meetings over a year ago. My involvement began with concern over the high taxation levels. Since that time I have learned more about the students and the low test scores in this district. As one of the highest taxed areas in the state, you would expect that our overall scores would also be among the highest. The fact is that scores are among the lowest and showing little sign of improvement. While test scores may not be the best measure of academic success, they are the measure by which the students and the teachers are judged.
What do you think about the process for measuring student success in your district? Is it adequate? What changes, if any, do you propose?
Measuring student success solely based on test scores is not the best method either, but it is the method currently used. Our students must have solid knowledge in the fundamentals of math, reading, and science to successfully advance in their education and in life. There are many very bright students in this district, however we must find a means to raise the average ability so that all students can be successful as they proceed to high school and beyond. Technology is one means to accomplish this education and Grass Lake is utilizing many of these services, however we must do better at preparing the children for life beyond elementary school.
The changes that I would support would be a better accounting of the finances to make sure that our tax dollars are focused on education and that education is focused on a solid knowledge and understanding of the principles that will allow the students to grow.
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 that the school board can help to set direction, but that it is ultimately the administrators and teachers that help the students grow in knowledge. The job of the school board is to provide direction and funding decisions as well as having a voice in a quality teaching program within the limits of the labor agreements.
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?
The most visible issue is the additions and modifications to the school building. There is a significant fund in place for this project and the spending of 6 million dollars has already been approved. That is a lot of money however changes in school security, ADA mandated modifications, hazardous material removal, and providing classrooms for all grades (PreK through 8th grade) will be accomplished.
That leaves approximately 6 million dollars yet to be allocated. This is far more than a "rainy day fund" and I believe these funds should be used to make the tax base and the district spending more in line with similar districts in Illinois.
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?
Grass Lake School is the only school in District 36. If there were a voucher system, the reasons a student would chose Grass Lake are limited. First of course would be distance from home to school. Those students are mostly currently enrolled in Grass Lake. I feel a second benefit is the use of technology within the school to aid the students. Exposure to tablet and laptop computers is key to the students moving forward. Another area of growth in recent time is in student attitude. The number of activities available to and used by the students beyond classroom learning is commendable.
The final "draw" to Grass Lake would be the education level achieved as shown through testing. Sadly, this area is lacking and would be more of a barrier to parents wanting to chose this school to provide the basic education that is so important for their children.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Grass Lake is a one school district. This itself appears to be an inefficient means to run a school. Added administrative costs and limited exposure for students and faculty to share ideas and innovation hurts the school. There have been preliminary efforts to merge the district, however these seem to have been not fully thought out or supported on either side. A merger would not be simple, but it could provide financial relief and a better education.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Tough question. Too many elected leaders run on a platform of change only to become part of the current system.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Be honest, be fair, and don't be afraid to recognize that there are good ideas beyond the ones that you come up with.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I probably would have done more teaching. Most people focus on "how much" instead of "how best" to accomplish a goal.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Science - I learned that even the most complex problem can be broken into smaller solvable issues with time and concentration.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
I have advised my children to be honest, fair, and that no problem is presented that we cannot address with honest effort and determination.