Conlon Wasik: Candidate profile
Name: Kathleen Conlon Wasik
Office sought: Grayslake District 127 Board of Education
Family: Kathleen and her husband, John, have lived in Lake County for 31 years and Grayslake for 19. They have two daughters: Sarah, a college senior at the University of Chicago, and Julia, a senior at Grayslake Central.
Occupation: Editor, JK Enterprises. Founder/President, GCG Information Systems, Inc.
Education: BA Philosophy -- University of Illinois Springfield (enrolled)
Civic involvement: League of Women Voters of Lake County -- Director; Lurie Children's Hospital: Illinois Violent Death Reporting System task force member; Development Committee 2025 Children's Health Data Collection Initiative; Woodland District 50: Child Health and Welfare Committee; Food Service Procurement Committee; established Woodland District 5K and 1-mile Family Fun Run; Girls on the Run Coach; PTA Vice President; Fundraising Coordinator Music Boosters; Sierra Club Member; Mano a Mano Host Committee
Previous elected offices held: none
Incumbent? Yes. Elected in 2015
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
There are two areas that I think the board needs to strengthen:
1. Goals developed during the strategic master planning process need to be carefully implemented and appropriately monitored for success. I say "appropriately monitored" because the district is moving beyond traditional measures of student success. New methods for monitoring will need to be developed that drive student attainment without driving teachers and students up-the-walls.
2. The board needs to do a better job explaining school funding to the community. We need to show what a tax freeze, or tax cap would mean to the district and municipal government. I held a community forum and lobbied Springfield for the evidence-based funding formula that was signed into law last year. It holds great promise for our community because it will help fund education and has a tax relief grant available for communities like ours. I think if we got behind the evidence-based funding formula as a community we could receive substantial tax relief without undermining our school or local government.
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?
I ran four years ago on real-world learning that prepares students for the modern economy, so this question is always on my mind. Our district's new strategic master plan and Portrait of a Graduate represents the best thinking we have around addressing the "future ready" question. So, the district has a plan but now we need to implement it. That requires the board developing new monitoring measures to access progress and allocate our recourses very carefully to derive the greatest impact for our dollars. Concerning whether I'm satisfied that the district is adequately preparing students, I'm satisfied that the administration and teachers are doing all they can with the resources they have. As a school board member, I'm always on the lookout for improvements.
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.
Grayslake North is entering a maintenance cycle, and Grayslake Central's duct work needs reconfiguring. Classrooms at both schools need to be modernized to handle the demands of a modern curriculum that emphasizes collaboration and project-based learning. Based on current funding, we'll need to stagger the physical plant upgrades as funds permit. We'll need to develop a strategy for modernizing the classrooms based on use. That said, the district is working to develop a facilities plan and there will be more to come on this issue.
Using property taxes to fund schools is stressing homeowners and local businesses. The problem is, structurally unsound and unsustainable remedies are being floated as quick fix solutions with no thought to impact. I think the board of education could do more to educate the community on how to best move the school funding issue forward in a manner that is structurally sound and sustainable. I have lobbied Springfield and worked on a community forum advocating on behalf of the evidence-based funding formula. Since the formula was signed into law last year, D127 has received additional funding and we hope to receive a grant of more than $2 million in property tax relief. I would advocate Springfield fund the evidence-based formula ASAP.
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?
The board's posture toward teachers and support staff should be one of transparency, respect and fairness. I would enter any negotiation with the understanding that our district's success falls squarely on the back of our teachers. That said, the board respects employees by working within our budget to provide a stable work environment.
f 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?
No. I don't see how that's a good idea.