Rachael Rothrauff: Candidate profile
Name: Rachael Rothrauff
City: Mount Prospect
Office sought: District 57 School Board
Family: Married for 10 years; two daughters, ages 5 and 7
Occupation: High School Spanish Teacher; I hold an active Real Estate Broker License in Illinois
Education: B.A. in Spanish and Secondary Education, M.A. in Spanish Language and Culture
Civic involvement: PTO Committee Chair and active member, Mount Prospect Celebration of Cultures committee member, Deputy Voter Registrar, volunteer with various Mount Prospect Human Services events
Previous elected offices held: None
Incumbent: If yes, when were first elected? No
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
Mount Prospect is an ever-changing community that's attracting many families with young children. Our schools must continue to adapt to these changes while also advocating for the needs of our current students and families. Space within our schools is already strained, with several at or near capacity. Our schools will now receive some much needed attention and maintenance, but continued increases in student enrollment will necessitate a further discussion about expansion of facilities in the future. Downtown development within the TIF district could affect the number of students and funding levels in our schools. Because of these concerns, I'd like to see increased communication and collaboration between D57 and the Village board, who are also directly representing residents. I will also extend this idea of communication to the parent community, looking for further ways that the District can inform residents about what's happening, such as an improved broadcast of meetings or an upgrade of the emergency alert system.
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?
District 57 continues to see excellent educational outcomes as our students move on to high school. New additions to curriculum continue to be introduced in the early and middle grades, such as basic coding skills at Westbrook, a new approach to writing at Lions Park and Fairview, and technology upgrades at Lincoln. I believe these offerings should continue to be explored and introduced, based on both teacher recommendation and research of best practices within classrooms. Obviously, new additions to curriculum must take into account costs, space and staffing limitations, but I would be very interested in exploring the eventual possibility of full-day kindergarten, as well as a foreign language program that would begin in the earliest grades and lead to proficiency before entering high school.
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 passing of the referendum last year has helped stabilize what was once a dire financial situation for District 57. However, the challenge for the next four years will be to make prudent decisions that will allow us to maintain this situation. I'm not in favor of any additional tax increases. Additionally, I do not see the need for any major cuts. However, it's always our responsibility to look for redundancies and ways to streamline processes or programs. If additional dollars are to be spent, I believe they should be applied to lowering the current student fees for programs such as Kids Corner, transportation, and the curriculum fees or to maintain student-teacher ratios if enrollment increases.
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?
I am currently employed by Northfield High School District 225. Neither I, nor any of my family is or has been employed by Mount Prospect District 57.
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 ultimate goal of any contract negotiation should be to arrive at a compromise that allows both sides to feel their main priorities have been understood and addressed. Initially, I would approach the contract negotiations from the viewpoint of a listener, as much as a speaker. I believe it's important to understand the values and needs of the staff, while also clearly explaining the District's values and needs. I would prioritize open dialogue and transparency between parties. Given the current financial limitations of District 57, I would expect employee costs to remain relatively consistent with cost of living increases.
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 increase in pay in the few years leading up to retirement. I think it is a bad practice that leads to less stability in the pension system and causes loss of public trust.