Meg Woodman: Candidate profile
Name: Meg Woodman
Office sought: School Board Member, KCSD 96
Family: Married to my husband, Bill, for 21 years. We have a 16-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son who attend Stevenson High School and a 10-year-old daughter in 5th grade at Prairie Elementary
Occupation: I am currently a stay-at-home Mom, as my husband travels extensively in his job. Formerly, I worked in pharmaceutical sales and for the administration of a behavioral health care agency.
Education: Bachelor of Arts -- Psychology and Health and Human Services, State University of New York at Buffalo; Master of Science- Health Care Administration, D'Youville College
Previous elected offices held: current member of the Kildeer Countryside School District 96
Incumbent? Yes. If yes, when were you first elected? I was appointed after former Board Member Lauren Gordon passed away in 2016 and then I was elected in 2017 to finish the remainder of that term for 2017-2019.
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
One important issue that we are facing in District 96 is recognizing and dealing with the changing demographics in our district. We have seen a shift in certain key elements that have had the potential to influence academic performance (i.e. low income, limited English proficiency) and yet these trends have not had any negative effect. In fact, District 96 is among the state's elite when it comes to exceeding expectations! As a district we are effectively addressing these ever changing demographics and I personally think the way we have embraced and celebrated our diversity is a testament to our success.
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?
As a school board, we have a very high level of confidence in our ability to prepare our students for high school and beyond. The District 96 PARCC results, which measures readiness for college and careers, show that our performance in literacy and math remains significantly higher (30-40%) than the state averages. As part of the consortium of schools that feed into Adlai Stevenson High School, KCSD 96 is closely aligned with Stevenson and we pride ourselves on our successful partnership. As a result, 74% of our 8th graders place in accelerated or honors courses at SHS and 80% of D96 high school 9th graders earn A's and B's in core courses. In addition to our academic performance, our increased focus on social/emotional learning is also a key component to ensuring our students are prepared and well equipped to handle the rigor and expectations of high school.
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? Be specific.
Thankfully, KCSD 96 is currently in a very healthy financial position. As a board, we are committed to protecting our financial resources so that programs and services do not have to be impacted when federal and state finances become unpredictable. We pride ourselves on being responsible stewards of our district's tax dollars and making smart decisions on when and where we should spend our dollars. As a result, our debt service has demonstrated a strong reduction over the last decade, our revenue per pupil is well below the benchmark average and our expenditures per pupil is at the lowest end of our bench marks. This translates into KCSD96 being one of the leading districts in providing our constituents a high value for their tax dollar.
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?
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 board, we have a very healthy relationship with our superintendent, the KCSD administration and our faculty and staff. In an era where many districts are having difficulty coming to terms with their teacher unions and strikes are occurring, we just entered into long term contracts with both of our unions and we pride ourselves on the strong relationships we have with both our certified staff and our educational support personnel. Currently our bargaining agreement with the KEA is a 6 year contract that doesn't end until 2023.
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 do not think that an arbitrary increase to boost pension benefits is a practice that should be supported. In District 96, we make sure to follow TRS and state of Illinois guidelines when dealing with retirements of superintendents, administrators and teachers, as we do not want to incur any financial penalties due to unregulated increases in compensation. That being said, I think compensation discussions should take into consideration many different factors, including an individual's performance, the impact that person has had on the district's performance, how the compensation and benefits compares to others in the same position, etc ...