Kurt Buchholz: Candidate profile
Name: Kurt Buchholz
City: Glen Ellyn
Office sought: Board Member District 41
Family: Married to Lisa, D41 first grade teacher …. daughter Kaila Kindergarten teacher Wheaton district 200 … … daughter Kassie senior at University Wisconsin Platteville … … son Kent 8th grader at Hadley Junior High
Occupation: Agency Owner Allstate Insurance
Education: BA North Central College Business Marketing
Civic involvement: Glen Ellyn Park Commissioner, past president Glen Ellyn Rotary; past president Glen Ellyn Rotary Foundation; co-founder Glen Ellyn Children's Resource Center; past president Faith Lutheran Church; 21-year youth soccer and basketball coach.
Previous elected offices held: Glen Ellyn Park Commissioner, Current District 41 board Vice President
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? 2015
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
I am running on a slate with Stephanie Clark for re-election for District 41 Board of Education. We both have strong backgrounds, experience, and involvement in D41. Over the last 4 years, we have provided strong leadership with proven results. In the short term, the hiring of a new superintendent is an important issue facing the District. In the short and long term, the continued growth of our students is always an important issue. Finally, managing the budget over the long term is vital to the fiscal health of the district.
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?
Ms. Clark and I were instrumental in the creation of a long-range plan that includes specific goals assigned to each of our programs. It is very important for our school district to hold each of its programs accountable for the continued growth of our students. District 41 has a long history of being a high performing district, but I feel we need to focus on growth for all students. There are some groups of students whose growth has been concerning for quite some time. The KPIs (program accountability) that Stephanie Clark and I worked to develop have resulted in increased accountability for our programs, but more attention is needed in this area. In a town such as Glen Ellyn, where so many of our students come to us prepared and ready, we need to be doing everything we can to both challenge those learners and to help struggling learners succeed. Dropping from top 6 percent to top 10 percent of districts in Illinois was concerning and I think a continued focus on strong programs and accountability for those programs can help get us back to where we were. Additionally, our new superintendent will need to truly evaluate our curriculum and instructional practices to ensure that we have the very best in place for each learner.
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.
Four years ago, Stephanie Clark and I promised transparency to the stakeholders. One of the many areas where we have improved transparency is the budget. Today, our budget is clearer and easier for the taxpayer to read. In the past, even board members had trouble reading our budget. Stephanie Clark and I have been extremely aggressive in watching tax dollars, which has led to a $5 million surplus two years ago and a $4.5 million surplus this year. In keeping with the commitment we made to the community to be good fiscal stewards, we have been able to control expenses and align revenue growth moving forward by zeroing the tax levy two years ago and asking for .25 percent of the total maximum levy this year. We have implemented the new practice of completing five-year revenue/expense projections. This year's projection shows sound financial footing five years into the future as we continue to manage the budget. All this work has been done while keeping our current programming in place. Stephanie Clark and I also helped to get our recent referendum passed by listening to the community and being pragmatic.
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, I am not employed by the school district. Yes, my wife is a first-grade teacher in the 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?
Stephanie Clark and I successfully negotiated the AFSME (support staff) contract, which resulted in a fair deal to both the taxpayers and the District's valued employees. I abstained from the teacher contract negotiations because my wife is a teacher in the District.
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?