Dina Manka: Candidate profile
Name: Dina Manka
Office sought: D96 School Board Member
Family: Married since 2001, two sons ages 12 and 14
Occupation: Director of Legal Business Process Management at AbbVie
Education: BS Accountancy from Northern Illinois University and MBA from DePaul University.
Civic involvement: Aside from serving on the Board of Education, I volunteer
in activities associated with my employer, my children's schools and my church.
Previous elected offices held: None
Incumbent? Yes. If yes, when were you first elected? Appointed 2018
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
The school district is already progressive and active in the areas of facilities, programs and transparency, however improvements are a constant. In my brief time on the board, I have participated in not only short-term approvals of the budget but have also completed longer range planning for areas such as capital improvements, resource planning and curriculum programming. The board has actively solicited feedback from the community at large for additional improvements. We are working on tools that enable us to gain wider and faster input going forward.
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?
Working five years in population health management has made me very passionate about our youth. Teaching and embracing all four pillars of wellness -- physical, social, emotional and financial starts early on in life. We have the opportunity to truly impact how kids infuse wellness and become strong adults capable of amazing things.
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.
The fiduciary responsibilities of each board member is to balance the precious resources provided and allocate them accordingly based on the needs of the communities we serve. We must do this while looking externally at the changing landscape of the student base, legislative requirements, resource/labor pool and the peer comparables to other school districts. As a member of the KCSD96 finance committee, we take spending, both active and reductions, very seriously.
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, not employed by or retired from a school district. No, no family members are employed by KCSD96.
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 contract talks come up, the posture of the school board is to conduct a fair and reasonable negotiation process, factoring in anticipated changes in economics, student population, teacher/staff composition and other environmental considerations. For the good of the students, teachers, staff and community at large, it is our responsibility arrive at a decision that is benefits all parties, even if compromises are necessary.
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?
If we were to be in this scenario, the priority of the school board should be to attract top talent who will carry out our district's vision and support our values. If the current market conditions warrant changes to pay and benefits, it is certainly a factor that will be carefully considered.