These are my responses to questions asked by the Park Ridge Herald. I was asked to keep my answers brief.
What do you believe you can you bring to the District 64 school board?
Reasonableness. I have a willingness to listen to all sides and perspectives and use my diverse background to vote based on what reflects the will of the district.
What are the biggest challenges currently facing District 64 and how can they best be addressed? Replacing the Superintendent and Principals, but given I am asked that later, I would say improving the relationship between the board and the community. I would help facilitate the community having more forums outside of board meetings to exchange ideas and get input from all citizens. Then the board meetings could be used more effectively to present solutions arrived at those meetings, rather than only criticism from the community.
What District 64 programs or practices do you believe are most in need of changes or improvements? Special Education is in the midst of a major overhaul. The new board will be tasked with ensuring progress is made there. We need more of the meetings to be held in the open, and honestly address the quality of our schools compared to our neighbors, prioritizing the educational needs of all students.
In addition to the superintendent, four principals are leaving the district at the end of the school year. Are you concerned about these departures? Do you believe there is something the school board can do to retain administrators for longer periods of time? Change can always be concerning, but I see it as an opportunity. We need to ensure we hire right, incentivize results and not time served, and make sure we promote an environment that supports our hires to do their job well.
Should the school board reconsider a school resource officer pilot program for Lincoln and Emerson Middle Schools? Why or why not? This is a loaded question as these programs can all look very different. If we bring in armed security, it would strictly be for protecting the students, not policing them. In talking to neighbors, most people are open to the idea of security if done with no intention of policing students. I would be excited to have that conversation in a productive way with the community and demonstrate the reasonableness I mention in question one.
The board of education typically approves a higher property tax levy each year. What are your thoughts on this practice? My view with money is always that we can do more with less. The taxes are in line with our peer districts, but the quality of the overall product does not seem to be. Throwing money at something is not a solution, it is the easy way out. In some cases, it may be necessary, but we must be respectful of all citizens in making these decisions.
Should District 64 implement all-day kindergarten for all students and, if so, how should it be funded? I look forward to engaging in a healthy debate on this. There is research showing it is beneficial, but we also need to consider the variables in these studies. If we decide to proceed, we need to look hard at our current budget to see why we cannot deliver a service other districts offer at comparable cost per student.