Jeffrey Flary: Candidate profile
Name: Jeffrey Flary
Office sought: Member of Millburn Board of Education
Family: Wife: Kristin Flary; Son: Charles Flary; Son: Maxwell Flary; Daughter: Adeline Flary
Occupation: Business Analyst
Education: Bachelor of Arts from St. Norbert College
Civic involvement: Coach multiple youth sports; Participated in Chicago Care-a-Thon for two years; Organized a team for and participated in the March of Dimes walk for two years; Organized a team for and participated in the Autism Speaks walk for one year; Organized a team for the Fight for Air challenge; Member of my employers Disability Inclusion Network
Previous elected offices held: None
Website: Do not have one yet.
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
I believe the most important issue facing our district is high property taxes. When my wife and I go out for a walk around the neighborhood with our children and dog, we see a lot of For Sale signs. Our neighbors consistently say that they love our community and our schools, but they cannot afford to continue paying such high property taxes. As a result, many people with children stay until their children graduate from high school and then move to a place with lower taxes. This would be ok if we could get more young and diverse people to purchase these homes so that they can start their own families. I am proposing a two-pronged approach to address this issue: As a school board member I will make sure that we continue to identify areas of opportunity to become more efficient. Doing so will help us continue to stay below budget and still provide a high-quality education; I recommend that the school board works with the local village governments to help attract small businesses to the district. The more businesses we can attract to the area the less property tax burden will be put on families.
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 am moderately satisfied with our school district's ability to prepare students for adulthood. Our test scores are consistently well above the state average in all subjects. However, in order to be fully prepared for adulthood, a person also needs to develop social skills. I propose that we give children more self-directed projects to work on at school and more free time. Recent research has consistently shown that especially in the lower grades, homework actually hinders educational growth.
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.
Presently, the district is able to operate under budget, therefore I do not propose any cuts to programs or expenses at this time. In fact, I would like to increase the amount of programs that our district can offer to our students, like an expanded summer school program to support more students. I am concerned that if the state continues to underfund our schools, we will continue to see property taxes rise or we will start operating at a budget deficit. If this happens, we may not be able to attract more young, diverse teachers and families that enable our local schools to thrive. Illinois has one of the lowest income tax rates in the country. If we can support education and lower our local property tax burden on low- and middle-income families, I would support an increase in state income 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?
Neither my family or myself have ever worked for the Millburn School District
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 school board should make students the top priority, followed by offering a lucrative benefits package to recruit and support the most talented and innovative teachers we can find. Concessions should only be asked of teachers and staff if there is legitimate evidence that the current benefits and salary is a detriment to the students. Because a new contract was signed just a few months ago, pay and benefits should stay level in the immediate future. In the long term, I expect them to go up as we bring in additional quality teachers and staff.
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?
To me this issue depends on the circumstance. If the Superintendent was extremely high-performing but underpaid for the majority of their career, I would support an increase to their salary to even out the benefits when they are eligible to start collecting their pension. If they fulfilled their responsibility and they would receive the average pension benefit that others would receive, I would not support an increase.