Amy Neault: Candidate profile
Name: Amy Neault
Office sought: Member, D125 School Board
Family: Married, 2 sons -- one Stevenson graduate and one current student
Occupation: Retired college admissions officer
Education: B.S. in Communication Studies from Northwestern University
Civic involvement: Held numerous offices in KCSD96 PTO including multiple terms as President
Previous elected offices held:
Incumbent? Yes, If yes, when were you first elected? Appointed in May 2018
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
We face similar, serious issues across the country right now in our schools and society as a whole -- security, mental health and cultural/ideological divides. At Stevenson, those issues are being dealt with through our Social and Emotional Learning initiatives. They are woven into our curriculum in all subject areas. Teaching students responsibility, decision making and relationship building skills is essential to solving the issues we face as a society. Stevenson has made a targeted effort to lead the field in Social and Emotional Learning, and our Board is fully committed to that endeavor. If elected, I will continue to support the effort as I feel it instills essential skills in our next generation.
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 college preparatory school, "Success for Every Student," is a mission that everyone at Stevenson, including the school board, takes very seriously. The academic rigor and college level experience opportunities provide our kids the tools necessary for college and beyond. One message I have heard for years from graduates is how well prepared they feel when they get to college. For those students who may need a bit of additional support, the Stevenson Foundation offers a program called Stevenson 2 College (S2C.) Their mission is to provide support, mentoring and guidance for students who are first generation and may have obstacles in their path to a college education. As a former college admissions professional, I am working as a board liaison to this program. Through S2C we can offer students who may be at risk an opportunity which may otherwise be difficult for them to pursue. I am excited to continue working to grow S2C in the future.
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.
Fluctuating enrollment presents our biggest challenge financially. Currently we are anticipating growth; with that comes the need for additional facilities. Also, as our student population grows we could need to add more teachers and staff. This is where additional spending would be necessary. Conversely, if our enrollment goes down, as it did a few years ago, that would require potential cuts. At this point, we expect growth in the coming years. Our board and administration has done an excellent job of anticipating these needs and proactively planning for them. We do not anticipate a need for tax increases in the foreseeable future.
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?
No to both questions
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 Professional Learning Community, Stevenson operates on a foundation of collaboration and teamwork. Any negotiations occur within that framework. Our school board is no exception, we must work cooperatively with all our groups to find ways to come together. Assuming a posture of opposition is unproductive. Ultimately, we all want what is best for our students and will find common ground in that knowledge.
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 feel it is important to compensate our top administrators fairly for the job they are doing right now. Our administrative team is excellent and their salaries reflect that as much as possible within our budgetary guidelines. That being the case, there would be no reason for a boost. Fair and adequate pension benefits should be expected from a fair and adequate salary structure without manipulation.