Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.

Previous political experience: N/A

Previous community experience: 

  • Little League Coach
  • Project N.I.C.E.
  • 2006 Brook Park Referendum Advocate

Education: B.A. in International Business with a second degree in Spanish, Illinois State University – 1995

What should the district do to improve access to technology for students?

As Daniel Burnham said “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood”. We need to put a comprehensive, formal plan in place that identifies our ultimate technology goals and provides a roadmap on how to achieve them. There is obviously far more involved than simply distributing laptops or tablets to every student. Not only do we need to identify the infrastructure needs, integrate the curriculum, and implement the system and train our Educators, we have to understand the costs involved and fund the program. Every aspect is a considerable challenge in and of itself, however this is not going away, and the evolution of cloud based systems and the declining costs of hardware make such goals attainable – but we need to start with a comprehensive master plan.

What are your thoughts on implementing a K through 8 foreign language program in District 95?

Having learned Spanish in school, I feel very strongly about this as I have experienced first hand the benefits of being able to speak a foreign language. Spanish is the practical choice given the opportunities to use it outside of the classroom, and the fact that it is the native language of more people on the planet than any other language outside of Mandarin Chinese. However there are far more benefits than just being able to speak another language. Opening our children’s eyes to other cultures teaches them to embrace diversity, appreciate people from different backgrounds, and understand that there is so much more out there beyond our borders.

How should District 95 address and fund its ongoing infrastructure needs?

I am a fiscal conservative. I believe in living within my means, avoiding debt no matter how low the interest rate, and not financing home improvements with credit. I would bring the same philosophy with me to the board, and would never advocate going to the bond market to finance renovations and expansion. Ideally our needs can be met with long term planning and continued funding of an emergency fund for unforeseen setbacks.

What would you like to see in the next teachers’ contract? What would you change, if anything?

Our teachers are the backbone of our educational system, and in my opinion they proved their commitment to our schools in their previous contract. I would not be asking anything more of them in this upcoming renewal.

What are your thoughts on District 95 possibly changing its grade-reporting system to one that’s standards-based?

I am slightly disappointed in how this initiative has been communicated to the public. This is a massive change affecting all students that I think the District needs to explain more thoroughly and justify its position / reasoning., but I could not find anything about this in Insights or the District website, and it was only slightly referenced in the Superintendent’s mid-year report. I may be missing something, but the only information I have seen on this is what was presented in The Landmark, and honestly I was concerned. The methodology, as explained in the paper, seemed largely subjective in nature, and I felt the examples cited by Dr. Kuzniewski were not realistic. If an A student fails a test in elementary school, I think most teachers would recognize something was wrong and give the student the opportunity to re-take it. Same thing for a missed homework assignment. On the face it appears more along the lines of the E/M/N grades used in Kindergarten through 2nd grade. However I do not want to base my opinion on a news paper article would withhold judgment until I have a better understanding of the initiative, what the results were at schools that have adopted the methodology in the past, and why it has not been implemented on a wider scale if it has been around for 20+ years.

What other important issues do you think the next school board will face, and how would you like to see those addressed?

As our cash-strapped state continues to slash funding and programs, it is increasingly clear that the success of our schools will be more reliant upon our community, and we will have to make better use of those resources. Brook Park’s science fair was a perfect example of what can be achieved when a proactive member of the community (kudos to Barb Garvey) has an idea and works with administrators to make it happen. The fair was an overwhelming success and the projects the kids took on were very impressive, even more so given the fact that no additional credit was given for their participation. The degree to which the event was embraced by the community was inspiring, by both the participants and the visitors that came out to walk the fair and show their support. I look forward to more of these types of events, and tapping the enthusiasm of our students and parents to make our schools and our community a better place.