Edwin Brown: Candidate profile
Name: Edwin Brown
Office sought: Board of Education District 127
Occupation: Insurance Industry
Education: BA -- Business Administration
Civic involvement: Previous elected offices held: I am in my 2nd term as member of Board of Education District 127
Incumbent? Yes. Elected in 2011
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
Property taxes are too high and while a major factor in D127 has been our debt bond which will be paid off during this next elected term; the board will have to manage needs vs wants. The administration has been floating the idea of a new debt initiative for a primarily a theater complex at Grayslake North. This is a want project and not a need project and I am not interested in added new debt for want projects at the expense of property owner in 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?
I am satisfied the high school provides learning and knowledge for students to move beyond high school. Both schools in the district are ranked very well as compared to Lake County and statewide HS. Administration works very hard to bring synergy of elementary to high school transition; however there are several feeder districts and each has their owner culture and process which contributes to challenges during transition to Grayslake HS which is different compared to a K-12 district.
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 state's pension fund draws a 1/3 from teachers, 1/3 from district and 1/3 from state; the state has failed to keep up their part of the funding. The proposed state bills to solve Illinois Pension Fund often look to shift their expense back to teachers and districts along with the many unfunded mandates the state passes every year. The administration will have to evaluate non-required course programs, teacher compensation, extracurricular activities and shifting from proactive building maintenance to reactive building maintenance. District fund balance liquidity, which ranges 23-27% of annual expenses, will be at risk which hurts credit standing. A tax increase to manage this would require a ballot referendum and voters already raise concerns about a levy increase of 1.19% or $590,000.
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?
Not employed by any school or government entity.
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 cannot speak to the specific posture I, as a current school board member, have which may jeopardize the current negotiation in progress. Any board posture would be managed as a board as the board speaks as one voice and you are asking me as an individual what my 1/7th voice is. I have heard employed persons and retired persons say they want their income to increase year-year and at least keep pace with inflation and that is consistent with community feedback during the property tax levy discussion.
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?
This is a lessor of two evils that board of education wrestles with and the district practice I support is to manage the least expensive impact to the district. What looks like a 6% year-year increase is what you see; what you do not see is the higher expense a district would have to pay under the law. We are put into a position which has inherent perception of supporting high percentage increases when in fact we are supporting the lesser expensive path.