Stephanie Clark: Candidate profile
Name: Stephanie Clark
City: Glen Ellyn
Office sought: Glen Ellyn District 41 Board of Education
Family: Married to Matt. Four children: John -- Junior at West; Patrick -- Freshman at West; Aidan -- 5th grade at Ben Franklin; Connor -- 3rd grade at Lincoln.
Occupation: Stay at home mom. Prior to that engineer for Saturn Division of General Motors.
Education: B.S. Industrial Engineering, Purdue University, 1994
Civic involvement: District 41 BOE 2015-2019, President 2017-2019; District Committees CIT (Continuous Improvement Team), Policy Committee, Scheduling Committee, Collective Bargaining Teams for GEEA (certified staff) and AFSCME (support staff); Co-Chair for D41 Special Education Parents' Support Group; Served on Hephzibah Children's Association Western Auxiliary Executive Board, current active member; Glen Ellyn D41 PTA -- active member at Lincoln and Ben Franklin; served on Glen Ellyn Newcomers Board.
Previous elected offices held: Glen Ellyn School District 41 Board
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? Yes. Elected in 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 Kurt Buchholz for re-election for a second term to the Glen Ellyn District 41 Board of Education (BOE). Our background, experience and involvement in D41 provide strong leadership with proven results. As President and Vice-President of the Board, we sometimes have differing opinions on how we should manage issues, but we've successfully worked together with our fellow board members toward positive outcomes over the past four years. We have and will continue to work to maintain accountability, fiscal responsibility and transparency on the BOE. We believe BOE decisions should be child-focused, data-driven and taxpayer accountable. Personally, I feel there is still more good work I can do on behalf of the stakeholders of D41. I have a vested interest in the District, as I currently have children at Franklin Elementary and Lincoln Elementary and two at Glenbard West (D41 grads). Under our leadership, the BOE has accomplished much during the last few years, but there is still more to be done. Space has always been an issue in the District. The Board worked together to pass a referendum to finally eliminate portables in our schools and make other facilities updates and improvements.
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?
As a board member, I will look to the administration to truly evaluate our progress and performance. We are a very high performing district, but have fallen academically from the top 6 percent of the state to the top 10 percent in the state. I'd like to know what areas we should be focusing on. I'd also like to ensure that all learners are growing and being challenged in the classroom. I believe we still have issues of continuity among our elementary schools that should be addressed. Finally, we need to ensure we have continuity transferring from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school. We should be making decisions that are in the best interest of the students while balancing the needs of our stakeholders.
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.
Mr. Buchholz and I have a demonstrated history of being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. While D41 is operating in the black, we need to continually evaluate our spending to be sure it is the best use of tax dollars. I'm proud of the work Mr. Buchholz and I have done on the Board for the past few years, as we've been able to project our spending out over five years while working with the administration to manage what we spend. Thus, we have been able to hold the line on taxes for D41. We've done this without any changes or cuts to our programming. From the continued surpluses, we have a fund balance above our recommended guidelines. We are exploring using these dollars toward a solution for preschool space. Moving forward, we should see surpluses that are more in line with what is budgeted because we've worked to balance the revenue (taxes) with our actual budget. I do not believe we should max the levy (take all available tax dollars) simply because we can. Instead, we should maintain our current process of making an annual decision about the levy after forecasting our spending long-term, managing projects and ensuring we have the revenue to operate all programs in D41 while adjusting for inflation and salary increases. Taxes continue to be a big issue for Illinois residents in general. Almost 40 percent of our property tax bill goes to D41. We have proved that we can have both high-quality schools and property taxes that we can afford. I would continue to advocate for this approach if re-elected.
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?
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 board should be comparing D41 pay and benefits with similar/surrounding districts. Negotiations of the teacher contract should be done within the boundaries of fiscal responsibility. This past year, Mr. Buchholz and I were the board representatives who successfully negotiated the AFSCME (support staff) contract. I also was involved in negotiating the GEEA (certified staff) contract in record time. I believe we negotiated fair contracts that satisfied the employees and addressed their concerns while being respectful of the taxpaying community.
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?