Heena Agrawal: Candidate profile
Name: Heena Agrawal
City: Lake Forest
Office sought: D125 Board of Education
Family: Married, two children
Occupation: Finance and Business Executive
Education: MBA Finance & Accounting, CPA and CFA charterholder.
Previous elected offices held: NA
Incumbent? Yes. If yes, when were you first elected? June 2018
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
Key Issue 1: Providing excellent academic and extracurricular opportunities to every student in a safe, and inclusive environment is our highest priority at Stevenson. Preparing students for the next phase in their life socially, emotionally, and academically as they graduate into a global, competitive world is important to realize the mission of "Success for Every Student"
Key Issue 2: The Board should be good financial stewards for taxpayers. The Board monitors spending, drives savings by eliminating waste and engages in long term planning to effectively meet the growth and investment needs of the School without raising taxes.
Key Issue 3: A culture of transparency, inclusiveness and open communication is essential to maintaining a healthy environment for students, parents, members of the community, faculty and administration. The Board helps set the tone and is there to challenge and continuously raise the bar.
* 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?
Stevenson High School is doing an excellent job as a top college prep school in the nation in preparing kids academically, socially and emotionally for the next stage of their lives. Student and Alumni surveys provide ongoing feedback to support this view and ideas for further improvements. Student Achievement Data like test scores, college admission rates, and high rankings in nationals surveys of high schools reiterate this view. Social emotional learning, and diversity and inclusion initiatives create a healthy and safe learning environment for our students. Extracurricular activities like sports and 100+ clubs provide opportunities for service, leadership, and well balanced growth. The board is focused on driving the mission of "Success for Every Student" and providing the opportunity to every student to realize their full potential.
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.
For schools, there continues to be pressure on finances from transfer of pension obligation to the local level, and funding reductions. Stevenson is doing a great job of managing its finances. The district has a AAA bond rating, and has not asked for a tax rate increase through a referendum in 15+ years. It is important to continue to find cost savings while maintaining the highest quality of education. A recent example is the construction of the East Building Addition as a net zero structure for which we will receive one million dollars from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation. In the medium to long term, the enrollment at Stevenson High School continues to increase as families are attracted to the district due to the quality of education and community environment. It will be important to plan for future growth while continually raising the bar on the quality of education in a fiscally responsible way without increasing taxes.
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?
None of the above.
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?
Stevenson employees are exceptional and they create a nurturing and best in class learning environment for our students. The employee groups have a reputation of being fair, reasonable, realistic, and respectful in negotiating labor agreements. The school board will continue to be focused on fair and equitable compensation, career development and in return set the expectation of continued high-performance and realization of the district vision of Success for Every Student.
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?
Absolutely not. That would be against the principles of good stewardship.