Peter R. Dombrowski: Candidate profile
Name: Peter R. Dombrowski
Office sought: District 211 Board of Education Member
Family: Wife; Cindy -- Children; Jack, Ava, & Henry
Occupation: Licensed Structural Engineer
Education: BSCE Purdue University '97; MSCE University of Illinois at Chicago '03.
Civic involvement: Volunteer Committee Member for the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Assistant soccer coach with Schaumburg Athletic Association.
Previous elected offices held: District 211 Board of Education Member
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? Yes, 2015
What are the most important issues facing your district and how do you intend to address them?
The most important issues are Taxes, Transparency, and Ethics.
I intend to address these issues:
Reducing our property taxes, I will continue to identify and openly discuss cost-savings at the board table.
The board is empowered to reduce property taxes and MUST take action until revenue aligns with spending. Part of strategic planning is reducing reserves and utilizing those dollars for student benefits.
Improving transparency, I will continue to advocate for more open committee meetings the public can attend as desired. Leading by example, I will demonstrate ethics in the district. I will continue to refuse gifts. I will pay the same fees as my neighbors when attending any district event. I will also pay my own way when representing either the district or the community. Our members of the Board of Education MUST be free of the fog created by accepting contributions from parties with political and/or financial goals. It is equally important that I am NOT supported by a political party, a Super PAC, Teachers Union, or other individuals serving on this board. I am entirely independent and dedicated to my neighbors and our local issues.
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 the school district is adequately preparing students for college, but is falling short when it comes to students seeking employment in other professions that don't require advanced degrees. District 211 hosts a career expo with several career opportunities. This is an outstanding event, but of the 100 tables at the 2018 Expo, only 3 represented high skilled labor unions. The US Department of Labor is projecting a critical shortage of skilled labor. It is critical to expose students, who are not seeking a traditional degree, to trades which can lead to well-paid careers. Changes that could improve perceptions related to trades and other skilled labor should include district recognition. Currently, the board recognizes and awards students for athletics and academics. Many of the booster scholarships only support students moving onto college after high school. We should recognize the outstanding achievements in all the paths our students chose. The district needs a focused effort to expand recognition and reward for our students seeking success as a skilled worker.
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 largest budgetary issue confronting D211 in the next four years is the current revenue stream.
The last 4 years D211 has eliminated all bonded debt, and liability associated with the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). (IMRF fund supports pensions of employees outside the Teachers Retirement System; TRS). High taxes are not justified.
Board members must prepare to deviate from administration recommendations of capped entitlement. Rubber stamping budgets and levies must stop. The board must set a reasonable property tax levy respecting home-owners in our communities and directing the district to live within our means.
I CANNOT justify support of tax increases. Annual surpluses are ~3% of the budget, exceeding property tax increases. Budget projections for capital projects vary from $11 million -$13 million annually, with fund balances (reserves) over 40%. Administration is successful at coming in under budget, and should be commended for that work. Unfortunately, the budget savings are millions of dollars of unrealized assets unjustifiably removed from the community.
Specifically, a $20 million revenue associated with selling 62 acres in Schaumburg has no educational purpose. Investing $2-$3 million into the IMRF fund is moot, if it's holding $14 million in assets outside the classroom.
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?
As contract talks come up, a board should not posture.
A board must represent the community as elected, operating respectfully and professionally.
I believe our D211 board represents community goals. Goals inclusive of schools preparing our children for success while maintaining tax-payer affordability.
D211 requires no additional bonds to maintain day to day operations. Therefore, our position for negotiations is focused on student needs and advancement. Our resources are adequate to fund salary and benefits without significant concessions. That said, it's important to be frugal and prudent with these resources, as they are finite and have a larger impact on the community's fiscal health.
I prioritize student success in the classroom. This requires an open-mind and flexibility during negotiations. Combining Physical Education, Wellness, and Driver Education into a single comprehensive program is an example of flexibility leading to student success. Wellness would traditionally be a summer school course for many students. Now that material has been tied in with P.E. programs, so students can receive instruction during the school year with a wholistic approach to self-care. This also allows students the opportunity to explore new academic opportunities or experience a summer job.
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?
Pensions are part of a deferred wage compensation package. In our area superintendents are paid above a living wage. Superintendents receive a competitive wage with a pension. To provide a substantial increase in pay near retirement (pension spikes) while paying a competitive wage is abuse of tax-payer dollars.