Daniel Helderle: Candidate profile
Name: Daniel Helderle
City: Lisle, IL
Office sought: School Board Member for Lisle CUSD 202
Family: Married, 1st and 3rd Grader in Lisle CUSD 202
Occupation: Software Architect
Education: Bachelor of Science, Northern Illinois University
Civic involvement: Treasurer of homeowners' association, 2003, President of homeowners' association, 2004, Eyes to the Sky Volunteer, Eagle Scout, Long time donor to Horizons For Youth
Previous elected offices held: None
Incumbent? Yes, Appointed in October 2017
Website: None at this time
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
The district is facing a referendum which will permanently remove approximately 1.9 million from our 2018 education fund levy which is approximately a reduction of $26 million for a new student entering in Kindergarten and leaving after 12th grade. The district is looking at options to handle budget reductions which can be evidenced by viewing Board material from January 28th onward. The Board is keeping in mind our Policy 4:20 that requires reserves not to go below 3 months and not to exceed 6 months. Even with this referendum looming, I am proud to have been on a Board that voted unanimously to abate about half the current debt levy and effectively not increase taxes for district's portion of our upcoming property tax bill. I think the abatement and the self-imposed 6-month limit on reserves demonstrate that the Board and administration are looking after the interests of all stakeholders in the district. We are building a $39 million elementary school that will allow us to retire 2 aging schools. The district is keeping a close eye on costs and schedule, so they fall in line with the budget and the building is ready to open for the 2019-2020 school year.
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 pleased with our district but like any organization, there is always room for improvement. Current and past administrations and Board of Education members have been building a foundation to lead Lisle CUSD 202 into the future. This has involved adding curriculum directors, interventionalists, new math curricula and building a new elementary school. I believe we are at a watershed. Based on community feedback, the CUSD 202 instituted full day kindergarten.
Last ACT ended at a 5 year high at 23.2. SAT improved from the first to second year. PARCC has been a challenging transition for our district; however, all schools improved between 2017 and 2018 school years. The challenge schools are facing with PARCC is evidenced in the following article: https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20171031/state-test-scores-drop-in-most-suburban-schools-but-changes-coming. Illinois School Board of Education ranked 2 schools Exemplary and 1 Commendable. AP Courses -- 12 AP course are now offered. This reflects what universities are seeking in future students. Remedial Collage Classes -- For class of 2015, D202 was ranked 3rd best school in terms of lowest percentage of student needing to take remedial classes in College. This saves parents/students real money!!!! https://dupagepolicyjournal.com/stories/511561635-report-29-percent-of-2015-lisle-high-school-graduates-in-illinois-community-colleges-had-to-take-remedial-classes. US News & World Report -- Ranked nationally in the top 7% for 6 years.
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.
We are facing a referendum which will permanently remove approximately $1.9 million from our education fund levy which translates to approximately 10 million over 5 years or 26 million for a new student entering in Kindergarten and leaving after 12th grade. The deepness of these cuts is NOT a preferred route but would be required in order to keep a balanced budget and keep within our school policy 4:20 which requires the board to reserves between 90 and 180 days. To support all tax payers, I was a strong advocate on the board to establish the 180-day upper limit to our reserves. The upper limit was enacted in June 2018. In order to maintain financial stability in the district, the Board of Education has begun developing options should the referendum pass which can be evidenced starting with the January 28th meeting material. Many increases to costs to our district exceed CPI annually and thus necessitate our district to levy to CPI, the maximum amount not requiring a referendum. This year, our district did increase our levy by CPI; however, offset those increases by abating 560K in debt levy thus keeping taxes level for our tax payers.
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?
Being a relatively new board member, I have not been through a negotiation period. I look forward to this challenge and will draw upon more seasoned board members and administration to negotiate a fair contract for all sides. In order to keep and attract highly skilled teachers in market where there is a teacher shortage, we must offer competitive wages but this must be balanced against budget limitations and limitations in budget growth like CPI. Much of the decisions regarding the new contracts will depend on the outcome of the referendum facing our district and a successful transition to our new elementary school. Should our education levy be reduced by 10%, it will be harder to attract and retain qualified and talented individuals.
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 am firmly against salary spiking. Spiking salaries is just a bad practice, financially questionable and at a minimum not being responsible to our tax payers. Fortunately, this seems the opinion of our district administration as well. Our superintendent has expressly asked not to increase his pay by more than CPI at each of his contract negotiations.