Thomas Drake: Candidate profile
Name: Thomas Drake
Office sought: Warren Township High School District 121 School Board
Family: Married 24 years to Angie, two children
Occupation: Retired Engineer/Operations Director, Currently Owner of TD Supply Chain Solutions -- a SC consulting company
Education: Bs Manufacturing Engineering
Civic involvement: Gurnee resident since 03, Cub Scout Pack leader, community volunteer Food bank, Planning & Zoning board member
Previous elected offices held: Planning & Zoning review board, Currently WTHS Board President
Incumbent? Yes. 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?
Above everything, we want to provide a safe learning environment where our students can thrive free from hate and violence. All of the services we provide and programs we deliver require a foundation of financial stability. After a couple of years of very challenging times, we've balanced the budget and are building on strategies that will allow us to maintain that positive momentum. Not only did we address the short term, we're being creative in exploring green technologies like solar that will reduce our carbon footprint and pay for itself over time. Managing our financial health is part of our rolling 5 year strategy.
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'm very happy with our ongoing progress, but the work is never over and the goals are always being elevated. Our test scores continue to be above average and we provide a high degree of college prep classes (AP) and continue to see above average tests scores in AP tests. We have a strong partnership with CLC where kids can explore trade programs. We are also exploring the expansion of a "Schuler for non-Schuler" programs -- to provide assistance to those that need it.
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.
Mentioned above -- We've continued to map out budget projections for the next 5 years. Our school has a declining enrollment and managing the costs that go along with that is important. The stability we've seen at a state level has helped and payments and timing have improved. We're thinking long term -- like the solar project. We have to continue to explore not just cutting costs, but investing in technologies that reduce costs without losing services.
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 not employed or retired from the district and my last child graduated in 2016. I'm involved in the board because I'm part of the Gurnee community and feel drawn to help my community any way I can. I feel very fortunate that I was able to retire at 53 and it's time to give back.
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 am not going to comment on this questions as we are currently in contract negotiations.
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 endorse doing anything outside of the ongoing practice or guidelines currently being followed.