Lisa Kiener-Barnett: Candidate profile
Name: Lisa Kiener-Barnett
Office sought: School Board Member
Family: Husband Patrick, one daughter, Sophie who attended Lisle Schools K-12
Education: Bachelor of Arts, DePaul University
Civic involvement: Participated annually in the Lights of Lisle, Veteran's Day Program and many other community events with my students.
Previous elected offices held: President, IL Grade School Music Assoc. (2014-present); Board Member, IL Grade School Music Assoc. (1989-2014)
Incumbent? Yes, Appointed October 2018
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
-The significantly binding referendum on the April ballot which, if passed, could reduce the budget by almost 2 million dollars each year. This will negatively impact the students of Lisle #202 in terms of a profound decrease in services and programs that we are currently able to provide.
-The new Lisle Elementary School will provide a safe, exciting and student-centered learning environment addressing all components that make up the whole child. It is important that the school is completed on time and on budget so that students and staff can begin the 2019-2020 school year in this facility as planned.
-The Board should strive to seek a delicate balance where fiscal responsibility and meeting student needs are achieved.
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 think that District #202 does an excellent job of preparing students for their future, whether college or a career is their destination. The facts and data speak for themselves in terms of test scores and high rankings among other schools in DuPage County. The curriculum is rigorous, and students have many opportunities for growth and success in a wide range of subjects. Speaking from personal experience, my daughter, who is a college freshman, is thriving because of such opportunities. She has referenced several classes that she took in high school which have prepared her for college. I also feel that collaboration among staff at all levels helps students transition from Elementary to Jr. High to High School. The small class sizes, strong fine arts programs and wide variety of extra curricular activities and athletics are crucial to developing well rounded citizens that colleges, universities and future employers seek out.
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.
In April we will be confronted with a detrimental referendum in which the organizers do not understand the profound and negative impact that the proposed tax reduction will have on the students of Lisle #202. It is imperative that the residents of Lisle have a thorough understanding of what program and staff reductions will mean. An annual decrease of almost $2 million may result in reductions in AP classes, math and reading interventions, fine arts, PE, technology, administration, world language, career and technical education, special education, secretarial, clerical and paraprofessionals. To be clear, these reductions are not something that I, as a board member, would be in favor of. This referendum is the deciding factor on whether or not the Board would be forced into making these decisions. I also do not support a tax increase beyond what we can legally levy as a school board.
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 proud to say that I was the Band Director at Lisle Jr. High School for 27 years. I recently retired in May 2018. Prior to my employment in Lisle #202, I taught band in District #103 for 8 years. This gives me a unique perspective as a community member, parent and former teacher in Lisle. I understand the needs of all students as well as the concerns and desires of parents and community members.
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?
Employees deserve and fair and reasonable wage. In my experience in Lisle I have observed the art of compromise and collaboration between the board and staff many times. I would expect that to continue. The interests of all sides will be heard, and the Board will balance the needs of students, staff and taxpayers.
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, and I do not believe that the Superintendent supports this.