Lisa Griffin: Candidate profile
Name: Lisa Griffin
City: Arlington Heights
Office sought: School Board Member District 59
Family: Steve-husband Addie-daughter
Occupation: Business Development Consultant
Education: BS Elementary Education Certifications in ESL/Bilingual,
Biology, General Science, Language Arts and Social Studies
Civic involvement: former Board Member of Lake Briarwood HOA,
Currently Planning and Zoning Commissioner for Mount Prospect, Child Advocate for the Young Center, and volunteer throughout the community whenever needed
Previous elected offices
held: None. I am currently serving on the Planning and
Zoning Commission in Mount Prospect but it is not an elected position.
If yes, when
were you first elected? NA
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
First, curriculum needs to be addressed. We need a robust, standards-based curriculum that challenges students but flexible to meet all student needs. I'm well-versed in education standards and theories including NGSS Science, Common Core Language Arts, and RtI Interventions. I've been writing curriculum for 10 years using all of these standards and have written Curriculum for the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.
Testing is always based on standards. If the curriculum is standards-based, it will improve test scores. The Board must question the curriculum and push for changes. With my background, I can steer the board in the right direction.
Second, we also need better lines of Communication. Transparency and open communication are essential for trust and important to me and everyone I've spoken to in the community. Parents and teachers need to be notified of pending changes in the district in a timely manner. Their input is critical. They are advocates for their students. The Board and the Administration need to be proactive in their communication. This can be done through meetings, apps, emails, letters home, print and social media.
Next is meaningful teacher training. When changes are made to the curriculum, teachers need training to feel comfortable with what they are teaching. They need to be well versed in a new teaching strategy or teaching standard to help students succeed. According to the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 20% - 50% of new teachers leave the field of education within the first five years. One of the main reasons is because they don't have the needed training or a support system. Teacher training will also help with teacher retention and not just with new teachers but also with seasoned teachers.
And finally, I will make sure the District makes fiscally responsible decisions that directly benefit students. When money is spent, I want to ensure, it has a direct impact on students and enhances their education. This is my duty as a board member. This also how I will advocate for the education of our students.
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?
There are some positives in the curriculum like the Dual Language program and Readers Writers Workshop for Language Arts. These are proven programs with data to support them.
I would like to see improvements in the curriculum for math and science though. Students have to be prepared for the real world through 21st-century learning. Companies need a well-trained workforce. Currently, I work for a tech company so I understand the needs in the industry. All of my clients use tech. We need to prepare our kids for future positions like these.
STEAM and STEM can help with this need. They also incorporate multiple subject areas. In Science, students have to do real-world Math, read nonfiction, then put these skills into practice and work in groups -- just like in the workplace. This style of instruction also helps students who are not on a college track and gives them hands-on team experience. We need to prepare our kids for both tracks in life.
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.
I would not support any tax increases. I know the state has been talking about other ways to fund education. At one point, the state was behind in making payments to schools by almost 2 years. Many districts had to make cuts in programs. In my previous district, teachers and staff took a pay freeze for 5 years and they made cuts in programs. It was a very difficult time for the community.
As far as cuts in D59, I read an article in the Sun Times this week stating that the budget for education will be $375 million, with a $25 million increase being made to education in the coming year. I do not foresee any need for cuts being made to programs so I would not want to see any programs being eliminated in the district.
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 am not currently employed, nor am I retired and neither is anyone in my family. I worked as a substitute in the district for a brief time when I first moved here. I work in the private sector now but I was previously a teacher. My previous position provides me with the experience needed to identify the gaps in the current curriculum and many other school-related issues.
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?
It is my responsibility as a member of the Board to not prejudge before a negotiation. I must strive to advocate on behalf of children and what is best for their education. This is also a guideline from the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) and of the utmost importance to me. I do think it is important to retain and attract the best teachers and this is also something that would need to be considered as well.
Without knowing any circumstances of the situation, this is difficult to answer. I know that a board bargains in good faith and I plan to. I would imagine, with current circumstances, costs would remain relatively the same. Though, having no idea what is being asked on either side, I can't accurately answer this question based on the guidelines of being a board member.
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?
From my understanding, this is a thing of the past. In the State of Illinois, if you boost a pension as described above, the district would have to pay a penalty. I am not in favor of the district paying any penalty, especially for something like this. So my answer is no, I would not support this.