Kelly Rokosz: Candidate profile
Name: Kelly Rokosz
City: Buffalo Grove
Office sought: Kildeer-Countryside School District 96 School Board Member
Family: Son- James, 5, Daughter- Violet- 2.5
Occupation: Site Coordinator with the Center for Talent Development
Education: Bachelor of Arts from Santa Clara University- 2007, Master of Science in Education from Northwestern University- 2010
Previous elected offices held: None
Incumbent: No If yes, when were first elected?
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
My son is starting kindergarten in District 96 this fall. Currently, the kindergarten program is divided into half day and full day offerings. If you choose to send your child for a full day, you have to pay for that. If you choose not to pay for the full day, then all your child will receive is math and reading instruction. They do not have physical education, music, STEM, or recess. I believe this is not only developmentally inappropriate, but also unfair and unequal. District 96 is a public school district, and we pay extremely high property taxes. We should not have to pay for full day kindergarten. Additionally, if a half day of kindergarten is an option for families, then the students in that program should receive all the same programs and classes that the full day students receive, albeit not as often. I would like to make the full day kindergarten program fee free for families, and to make the half day option more developmentally appropriate for those students.
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?
My children are not yet students in district 96, but based on my observations of the students in my neighborhood and my interactions with students at Stevenson High School during my time as a substitute teacher, I think the school district is adequately preparing the students. However, I think there are always things that can be done to improve the programs offered, and I believe that modifying the kindergarten program to make it more developmentally appropriate and equal is good place to start.
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.
In order to make the full day kindergarten offering free to all families, the budget will need to be examined and reworked. Ideally, given how high our property taxes are already, I would like to do this without any tax increases. I am looking forward to examining the budget with the other board member to come up with creative solutions to budgetary constraints.
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 I nor any of my family members are retired from any Illinois school districts. However, I was a classroom teacher with the Archdiocese of Chicago for four years, and with two charter school organizations for three years.
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?
I think that all contract negotiations with school employees should be approached with respect for the important work the employees do with the students in the district. Budgetary constraints must be taken into account, but overall the quality of education the students receive is most important factor.
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 would not support a substantial pay increase for a superintendent nearing retirement. While we are incredibly thankful for the years of service from the superintendent, I don't believe it is fiscally responsible to raise a salary to increase pension benefits given the overburdened teacher pension system in Illinois.