Christopher Todd Erickson: 2023 candidate for Downers Grove High School District 99 board
Town: Downers Grove
Age on Election Day: 45
Occupation: Project executive
Employer: Power Construction Company, LLC
Previous offices held: None
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
A: This is my first election and my motivation for running for school board is the desire to provide every child with a world class education and improve the academic performance of our district. The foundational issue that I would like to see addressed in District 99 is academic performance.
There has been a decline in academic performance, while other districts are outperforming. We have great resources in our community that can be leveraged in order to return to growing performance of ALL students.
I care deeply for our community and have one shot to raise and prepare my children. To the extent that I can help further build my community and achieve greatness in our schools, I am willing to donate my time and energy to do so. The timing of my interest correlates with the progression of my own children through the districts, as my oldest will soon be transitioning into District 99.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: The school board is responsible for evaluating and adopting curriculum that is acceptable to the board in conformance with the board policy curriculum guidelines.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: Regarding my concern over the recent decline in academic performance metrics, the curriculum is part of the evaluation to determine its role in the decline. Greater research and teacher feedback will be necessary to determine root causes and appropriately focus our efforts to improve.
If found that curriculum is a factor, then my focus would be to pursue necessary changes or other improvements to return to growing academic performance.
Q: How do you view your role in confronting policy or curriculum controversies: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?
A: It is the responsibility of the school board to maximize the learning opportunities for our students, therefore, I would work to minimize the impact of any controversial issues that could distract from instruction. If there were a controversial topic that arose and did not imminently effect students, I would advocate to table the discussion and address over a summer session.
This would also have the benefit of a cool-down period and ensure that the entirety of the community has an opportunity to contribute to the discussion and find the best solution for ALL children.
Q: Concerns are growing regarding a new resurgence of the pandemic. If another massive outbreak of infectious disease occurs, what have we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that will guide your decision making?
A: As a building contractor, our construction continued through the pandemic. Having over 1,000 trades people on the job site was a challenge to provide safe work conditions, continue with construction and navigate supply change issues. We did so successfully and delivered a mega project on time and budget.
We continued our work through the pandemic, which necessitated strength, courage and creativity. I would leverage this experience and my problem-solving nature to provide a different perspective to whatever challenge that may lie ahead.
Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage school district policy? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your school board.
A: I am an engineer by study with an undergraduate and graduate degree. I work in commercial construction where I have had the opportunity to build numerous high-rise buildings in downtown Chicago along with many world class collegiate educational facilities.
As a builder, my career is a tangible business that is results oriented and requires a lot of planning and listening in order to find and achieve optimal solutions for all stakeholders. Commercial construction projects are uniquely restricted by schedule, budget constraints with exacting performance and quality standards.
Consequential decisions are made on a real-time basis that directly impact outcomes. Working in such an environment with these skills will bring tested management skills and an important perspective to a well-rounded board. I will bring my problem-solving perspective to the board with a focus accountability and results. It will be my obligation and mission to manage to the best interest of ALL students.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I believe that I am the best candidate for the job because I am the most qualified and have the most at stake. My career includes successfully managing $100M+ construction projects balancing a myriad of different interests and working in a high-pressure, high-stakes environment. I have the most at stake because my family represents the future.
With family already in the district, I also have two children of my own on their way into District 99. I have one shot to raise my children, lead by example and do what I can to ensure the success of my community.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: There was great concern over screen time before the pandemic, which is no longer a common discussion. I would like to evaluate phone policies within our district and also study other district policies/outcomes to understand if this may be a factor impacting our academic outcomes, in need of refinement.