Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Riverside-Brookield Landmark sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
Previous political experience: None
Previous community involvement: Jaycees Board Member, PeopleCare Volunteer, Riverside youth sports coach, RBHS Graduation Requirements Committee Member.
Education: Prospect High School; Columbia University, BA; Northwestern University, Kellogg Business School, MBA
RBHS has made cuts to its budget in recent years, which have increased class sizes and decreased the number of teachers. What effect have these cuts had on the educational product at the high school?
I believe there is a correlation between class size and quality of education. Class size is not the only factor, but holding other factors constant, it seems obvious that a student in a class of 15 would have a better educational experience than one in a class of 50. I also believe we should be strategic in how we look at class size. As a board member, I would support a comprehensive study of class size to see where we can allow increased size without affecting the overall learning experience and where we should keep classes small, all with a goal of maximizing our limited financial resources.
RBHS, despite its recent cuts, is still running a budget deficit. Do more cuts need to be made? Where?
Long term budget deficits are unsustainable. Revenues and expenses fluctuate for many reasons outside our direct control, so it is possible the deficit will correct itself. To better answer whether more cuts are needed, we need to review the financial projection trajectories and understand the margins for error. If cuts are needed, I would advocate to make those cuts in areas that would have the least impact on the quality of education at RBHS.
Is there a need for RBHS to seek a property tax referendum to increase revenues? Why or why not?
I believe tax revenue to the school should remain constant over time, on a proportional basis. This requires an occasional referendum because the current taxing structure has a embedded dilution mechanism. The question is really a matter of timing and at some point the school district will need a tax referendum. Whether one is required now to resolve the current fiscal difficulties is unclear. The budget is running a deficit and long term budget deficits are unsustainable. If regular revenue and expense fluctuations don’t correct the deficit, some combination of expense cutting and revenue boosting will be needed. I am not opposed to a tax increase, but would not recommend one lightly. I would champion the increase only if the district needs it in order to maintain financial health and quality education.
What would you like to see in the next teachers’ contract? What would you change, if anything?
I would like to see a fair teacher’s contract. I would like to see a contract that provides competitive salary levels so our school administrators can attract and retain excellent teachers. At the same time, I would like to see a contract that the district’s taxpayers can afford.
Do you think the district should continue its pay-to-participate policy, or should that policy be changed? If so, how? Should athletic programs be cut?
The policy was installed to help close the funding gap. If financially viable, I would like to see this policy rescinded as it discourages participation. Either way, I believe that athletic programs should be continued as they are an integral part of the high school educational experience.
Do you think there should be a limit on the number of classes students can take in a given grading period? Should there be changes to the school’s graduation requirements? Why or why not?
Currently, there is a limit on the number of classes a student can take in a given grading period. I believe lowering that limit would have a direct and negative impact on the quality of education at RBHS. As such, I would oppose any additional limits unless there is a compelling reason to make the change.
Having served on the Graduation Requirements Committee, I believe that the graduation requirements should not be altered. The requirements are solid, they underpin quality education and they reflect the school’s mission.
What other issues do you believe are important for the next school board to address?
I believe the school board should strive to achieve excellence in education and strive to maintain financial stability. The board should ensure voices are heard from all district “stakeholders” including students, teachers, administrators, parents, taxpayers, vendors and anyone with a vested interest in seeing the school succeed. The board also has the responsibility to work collaboratively and to communicate all decisions and deliberations effectively.