Jennifer Kobus: Candidate profile
Name: Jennifer Kobus
City: Mount Prospect
Office sought: School District 57 Board Member
Age (on election day): 45
Family: 3 children: Danny (19), Mike (16), Sarah (10)
Occupation: Director Transportation at Ulta Beauty
Education: BA in Education from DePaul University, MBA in Business Management from Roosevelt University
Civic involvement: Appointed to D57 Board of Education in 2014 and elected in 2015. In addition, I am on the governing board of St. Mark Preschool in Mount Prospect.
Previous elected offices held: D57 Board Member
Incumbent? 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?
One of the most important issues facing our district is increased enrollment and our current school capacity. In the past several years and prior to the referendum, we have utilized mobile units when needed to address enrollment constraints. Since the referendum passed in 2018, we are now evaluating what current school buildings could be expanded in order to meet the community needs. For example, the board has recently voted to expand Fairview within the next 12-18 months. I support this decision as well as balancing creative solutions such as mobile units, mobile curriculum, etc.
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 extremely proud of our school district and the academic accomplishments our community achieves. We have amazing teachers and staff that are constantly evaluating our curriculum and determining ways to prepare our student for the future. For example, our Technology Director, Trevor Hope, has done an excellent job updating our infrastructure, rolling out multiple 1:1 programs which allows students direct access to various technology platforms. By the district expanding our technology curriculum, we were able to repurpose the old computer classroom model. Thus mobile technology not only prepares the students for their future but allows our school flexibility in designing our classrooms to achieve all our student needs.
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.
District 57 passed a referendum in 2018. The school district needed the referendum to provide additional revenue to support our current curriculum programs, to address deferred maintenance projects needed for our 4 schools, and to maintain classroom sizes. The district believes that due to the referendum passing, we will continue to operate within our guidelines for the next 5-10 years.
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?
I think the school board should always be financially responsible when addressing any contract negotiations. However, I also believe that if the economy is growing, if your teachers are making less than surrounding districts, then you need to evaluate your budget and determine what concessions and/or pay increases could be accomplished to retain your teachers and support staff. School districts are not effective when dealing with high turnover. Thus, they must do what they can to protect their school continuity and ultimately the education of their students.
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?
No, I would not support a substantial increase to help boost pension benefits. However, I do support having a retirement conversation with your superintendent and to discuss their plans. There are times when it is critical to maintain the existing superintendent/administrator such as when a district is going to referendum, administration continuity, and contract negotiations.