Courtney Lang: Candidate profile
Name: Courtney Lang
City: Arlington Heights
Office sought: Community Consolidated School District 59 Board of Education member
Family: Husband Alex Lang; children and District 59 students Elijah Lang (8) and Lucas Lang (5)
Education: Juris Doctor, Pepperdine University, summa cum laude; Bachelor of Arts (double major English & History), Rice University, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa
Civic involvement: Weekly volunteer in District 59 parent English language classes; Juliette Low Global Community Committee member; First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights member and children's ministry volunteer; participated in March for Our Lives, Chicago and Families Belong Together March, Arlington Heights
Previous elected offices held: None.
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? No.
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
There are four important issues I want to improve in District 59: 1) teacher support; 2) curriculum; 3) communication; and 4) student support through community partnerships. Our teachers and aides deserve strong backing in their daily work of educating students. Teachers need a rich curriculum, aides, reasonable class sizes, and training opportunities. District 59 must enhance and deepen its foundational curriculum, particularly in the areas of math and science, which are critical in our modern economy. Communication needs to improve at all levels, between the board, administration, teachers, parents and community. True listening and transparency are critical to the future of District 59. Finally, I want to see the district's community partnerships expanded, which would increase student opportunities through a fiscally responsible strategy. Approximately 50 percent of our students receive free/reduced lunch, a subset of which eat their only reliable meals at school. I hope to foster relationships with local nonprofits to meet students' basic needs, such as food on weekends and holidays, so students can arrive at school better prepared to learn. Expanded community partnerships could also open extracurricular opportunities that will engage and challenge all students, such as entrepreneurship and computer science.
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 choose to live and raise my kids in District 59. I value our community and our diversity. I believe the district has laid critical groundwork for preparing students for advancement, such as providing early learning opportunities for all students and teaching social emotional development skills that allow for success in school and life. Critical thinking, information analysis, civic responsibility and foreign language are crucial for a modern job market and the district teaches for these outcomes. District 59 must strive for excellence for every student and it is not there yet. It is imperative that the district continue to improve. District 59 must enhance its foundational curriculum to ensure that students have the building blocks to be successful at higher levels. While the early literacy curriculum is strong, District 59 must ensure students have a strong foundation in math and science. District 59 must also see to it that English language learners are not isolated and have every opportunity for success. I would love to see the continued expansion of the two-way dual language program throughout all schools to help more of our students become biliterate and bicultural.
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 59 should "live within its means", exercising diligent fiscal responsibility over the budget. With the completion of the Early Learning Center and the Professional Development & Administration Center over the past decade, District 59 has put significant funds toward capital projects. Now, it is critical that board members ensure that each dollar is spent wisely and where it matters most, supporting teachers and students in the classrooms.
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?
District 59 should always take a posture of listening and respect in negotiations. The district expects excellence from its teachers and support staff and needs to adequately compensate them for their hard work with competitive pay. At the same time, to be fiscally responsible, the district must balance personnel expenses with the significant costs of running a school district. I would strive to pay the teachers and support staff consistent with fair cost of living increases while also balancing the budget.
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. It doesn't make sense to approve a disproportionate increase for one person at the expense of other needs within the district. Furthermore, pay increases should be based on hard work and strong performance, not proximity to retirement.