Dave Long: Candidate profile
Name: Dave Long
Office sought: District 200 School Board Member
Family: Wife Jennifer, daughters Catie (Junior at Wheaton North) and Maddie (Freshman at Wheaton North)
Occupation: Director of Finance/Controller
Education: BS Accounting
Taught Junior Achievement for several years in Chicago and Robbins -- Early 90's
Tutored elementary school kids at Midtown Educational Foundation in Chicago Early to mid 90's
Religious Education teacher in Channahon, IL 2006-2007
Soccer coach with Winfield in Action from 2011 through 2016
Winfield in Action Board member from 2013 through 2016
Bikeways Planning Group for the Village of Winfield from 2014 through 2018
Citizen's Advisory Committee 2017 -- present
Business Incubator Coach -- Wheaton North last 2 years
Previous elected offices held: None
Incumbent? No. If yes, when were you first elected?
Facebook: Dave Long for D200 School Board
* What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
Financial discipline and board transparency. I will work with the administration and fellow board members to ensure a continued focus on wise financial decisions, including funding capital projects. The community has spoken loud and clear that they will not support additional taxes to fund infrastructure repair and maintenance needs. The District will need to continue to balance the funding of infrastructure needs with those of education, extracurricular and co-curricular activities. I will bring the perspective of a parent, community member and financial professional to help prioritize needs and make the best decisions for the students. Transparency in information sharing and communication is something the current board and administration has place increased emphasis on in the past few years. I can help the district improve in this area by leveraging relationships in the community, being open and available and ensuring the public is aware of the decision making process.
* 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 feel the district offers a wide variety of programs and services to help prepare students for the next steps in their lives. One of the benefits I see with a unified school district is the cooperation between the elementary, middle and high schools. There is an emphasis on preparing 5th graders for middle school, and the middle school process is very focused on preparing students for high school. The high schools have a wide range of educational programs, athletics, clubs, arts and other activities that prepare students for college and adulthood. One area that could be improved on is preparing those students who are not interested in attending a traditional college, community college or university. There is opportunity for those students in the trades, and helping those students pursue those opportunities should be made a bigger priority than it is today. While classes are offered at Technology Center of DuPage (TCD), increasing awareness and employment opportunities is an opportunity.
* 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 current board and administration has done a very good job of balancing the needs of the district against the funding received. The current projections over the next four years are fairly well balanced, contingent on revenue projections being accurate. Significant changes in funding, particularly from the state, could change that. I believe the board will dip into fund balance to fund needs over the next few years to help fund capital projects. There are sufficient reserves built over the past couple of years to allow this and I support this approach.
Current projections would not require significant cuts. Should cuts become necessary, I think they should be balanced between educational and activities. The only significant area that quick action can be taken is in salaries. I would rather see a small increase in class size before cutting programs. I would also look at the specialized, non essential course offerings and eliminate some of those, if necessary. When it comes to programs, I would look at a combination of participation and cost per student. I would also start with B level teams so we could continue to allow as many programs as possible.
I do not support any tax increases. The community has spoken on that issue with the past couple of referendums, and I respect and support that decision. I would support a potential referendum to coincide with expiring debt, if necessary. My first preference not be to go that route, as I would prefer to expand course offerings and other programs before paying for added debt. Having said that, that decision is several years off, and all of the facts would need to be reviewed at that time to come up with the best decision.
* 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 by a school district, and never have been. My wife, Jennifer is a Teacher's Assistant in the Special Education area in District 200 at Monroe Middle School.
* 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 school board should take a collaborative approach with the employee groups. I believe the relationship between the unions and the school district is a good one, and I would strive to build on and continue that relationship. I believe modest cost of living increases should be provided to district employees. The fact that District 200 is very highly rated in the state, with salaries lower than many nearby district is impressive. In order to continue that trend, the district must stay competitive with pay rates.
* 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?
Absolutely not. I believe the administrators are paid a competitive salary, and that should continue until they retire. The district and it's taxpayers should not be saddled with additional pension costs from these types of actions. I think that is unethical and unfair to taxpayers.