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: None

Previous community involvement: St. Mary of Riverside Catechist; Volunteer for Riverside Historical Commission

Education: B. A., University of Illinois, Chicago ; M.B.A., M.I.S., Benedictine University, Lisle Illinois – 2005 (MIS is Management Information Systems)

What do you think of the district’s 1-to-1 laptop initiative?

The students need exposure to technology. Parents I’ve talked to like the availability, but are not clear on the initiative’s goals.

The December 18, 2012 Board Meeting featured a presentation on the program. Most of the slides from this presentation focus on the implementation of the program – training the staff, hiring a Project Manager – internally focused activities.

Less clear is how the program is supporting learning in core curriculum. Has the program improved test scores in core subjects? What outcomes and benchmarks have been established to assess the results of the initiative?

Should it be changed? Probably, because educational progress cannot remain static.

If so, how?

The following things should be reviewed and the program should be changed to:

  1. Refocus the efforts on improving learning and test scores in core curriculum. 
  2. Establish and communicate the strategy for students to fully utilize the laptops at home. 
  3. Monitor/Audit the home use of the computers according to the strategy. 
  4. Reevaluate the costs. The costs of laptops have dropped significantly. Is it necessary for students to have identical equipment to access the Cloud?

D96 has amassed a large budget surplus since its successful referendum in 2004. Do you think the district should continue to ask for the maximum annual levy it is allowed?

No, the District should not levy the maximum annual tax levy.

Why or why not?

The District has a significant and well publicized surplus. Other taxing bodies are struggling. The taxpayers’ have not hired the District to be a money manager on our behalf.

How quickly, if at all, do you think the D96 administrative offices should move back into the district? Why?

The District should move its offices within the District boundaries soon. Many residents have indicated that they would prefer easier access to the administration staff and resources.

How could the district’s gifted and special education programs be improved or changed, or are changes even necessary?

I note that the January 8, 2013 Education Meeting included the results of a survey of parents whose children receive Special Education services. That seems the obvious place to start addressing areas for improvement for the special education services.

Both special needs and gifted programs are complex areas of education and of critical importance. I will need help in getting the specialized training and better working knowledge but am eager to work with D-96 staff and parents to hear their views.

What are your thoughts on implementing a world language program at D96 elementary schools?

In a global economy, we should expand our horizons in foreign languages. I am interested in learning more about the how the program will be implemented into an already rigorous schedule.

Do you think the district needs to hire additional administrative staff, such as a business manager?

I think we need to consider hiring a business manager because financial management and reporting, facilities management and management of non-teaching staff require skills that are different from teaching. This will allow the teaching staff to focus on the primary function of a school, excellence in learning.

Do you favor a centralized kindergarten location? Why or why not?

I prefer to keep the location of our kindergartens with the neighborhood schools. I understand that we may need to centralize the classes due to space constraints and also if we offer an option for longer hours. I will work with professionals and parents to evaluate our choices.

What other issues do you believe will be important for the next school board to address?

  • Transparency and communication regarding District finances. I note that District Audited Financials are not on our web site. I would like to know more about our surplus and if we have any outstanding loans. I would like to address the investment return on our surplus and the interest rates on any loans. 
  • Broader communication with the community – to include taxpayers, as well as parents.

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