Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
Political Experience: volunteer campaign worker for U.S. Presidential Election 2012
Community Experience: RIVERSIDE, BROOKFIELD and N. RIVERSIDE
- advocate/plan for safe pedestrian/bike crossing of 1st Ave. and Ridgewood Ave.— solutions with a focus on a grade-separated crossing involving a ped/bike bridge or ped/bike underpass
- advocate/plan for ped./bike trail development in Riverside, Brookfield, N. Riverside and Lyons where trails are lacking and needed to reduce a dependency on vehicle use
- Promote greater opportunities for students and others to travel to schools and access parkland and village points of interest on foot or by bicycle—Safety First, reduce vehicle traffic and pollution, promote healthy lifestyles
IN NEW JERSEY: founded two non-profit community organizations:
- Friends of the Rockaway River to restore/protect river corridor natural and historic resources
- New Jersey Council of Farmers and Communities to create a network of 30 community farmers markets involving 100-plus farmers and food producers—Save Farmland, provide fresh locally-grown produce, and bring a weekly economic development event to suburbs, cities and towns in New Jersey
Education: attended public K-12 schools in Iowa, B.S. In Landscape Architecture, Iowa State University; M.L.A. Landscape Architecture, Texas A&M University
What do you think of the district’s 1-to-1 laptop initiative? Should it be changed? If so, how?
From limited parent feedback I hear it is not meeting the desired goals to improve learning in D 96, Yes, I believe changes are needed, It is very expensive and learning goals are questionable—-Survey parents/students to determine program effectiveness, One option is to keep computers at school and allow students to check them out for short-term home use.
D96 has amassed a large surplus since its successful referendum in 2004. Do you think the District should ask for the maximum annual levy it is allowed? Why or why not?
No more annual tax levy’s for now, D-96 is in an enviable position of school districts with a budget surplus, D-96 taxpayers are strapped by high local property taxes, D-96 recieves the lions share of property taxes from district taxpayers, We are losing residents that are being driven away due to very high school taxes.
How quickly, if at all, do you think the D96 administrative offices should move back into the district? Why?
D-96 Admin. offices should be moved to space within the District in the summer of 2013 to start new era of transparency, open communication and access to the community, A summer 2013 move coincides with the new Superintendant’s term of service. This is very important and should not be relegated to years of study by architects and committees. Possible vacant space includes two large vacant commercial/office spaces in downtown Riverside among others. We need our new superintendant to be easily accessible to D-96 taxpayers.
How could the district’s gifted and special education programs be improved or changed, or are changes even necessary?
Gifted Program needs to evaluated to assure that it is equally available to students of varied socio-economic backgrounds and free of parental influence. A perception exists that there are problems of fairness—let’s get to the bottom of this to see if any problems do exist.
Lets strive to educate all students within the buildings of D96, Comments from some parents of special education students indicate that D-96 may need to refocus our strategy to be more inclusive and to better meet the needs of students and their families.
What are your thoughts on implementing a world language program at D96 elementary schools?
Yes we need it—in an increasing global economy the ability of students to speak foreign languages is fundamentally important, The elementary school years are the time to start this instruction—students learn foreign lanquages quicker and with more retention when instruction begins early.
Do you think the district needs to hire additional administrative staff, such as a business manager? If so, where? If not, why not?
The Superintendent in D-96, a relatively small school district, should in my opinion wear the caps of Chief Executive, Chief Finance Officer, Head of Human Resources, as well as being the shining light that has the vision and ability to educate all students in the fast evolving world of education, economy, culture, conflicts and the environment. If a manager is needed to support the superintendent with business experience that person should be hired at a mid-management level at a reasonable salary.
Do you favor a centralized kindergarten location? Why or why or not?
No to central kindergarten location. A central location would work against the long standing and successful system of neighborhood schools. A central location would discourage walking to school and create a greater problem of pick-up and drop-off of students in the front of the school. The problem is bad as it is—let’s not make it worse.
1. I support more instruction of the biological sciences and natural history—both relevant to every student’s education and life. And greater use of hands-on and out-of-classroom learning. Students respond positively to learning that involves real exposure to the subject matter and not simply from books and electronic media. Let’s partner with The Chicago Zoological Society—a world-class institution that is doing important environmental research and implementing conservation programs around the globe. One 3-hour annual field trip to the Zoo for our students misses a great opportunity. Less electronics and more hands-on and out of classroom learning. The zoo is at our doorstep.
The Des Plaines River, local forest preserves and Riversides parks and open spaces—all within walking distance of schools— could be used as outdoor classrooms for nature education, art, writing and physical education. The balance between outdoor , hands-on learning and electronic media learning is badly out of wack.
2. I support greater safety and healthy lifestyles in getting our students to and from school—more walking and bike riding and less vehicle use. But, we have safety issues on the routes to schools that need to be addressed including drivers that speed, are wreckless, use electronic devices and park where they shouldn’t. Pedestrian accidents and near misses over the past few years are growing in frequency and are made worse when parents are involved in daily drop-off and pick-up of their children.
Hauser students using the First Ave at Ridgewood Ave. crosswalk are in danger due to the heavy volume of vehicle and large truck use there. Hauser students should not have to ride a Metra train to school as reported in a 2012 Landmark news article.
3. Re-implement a full day kindergarten, Add a modular classroom as needed at the schools to provide needed classroom space, When enrollment goes down the modular classrooms can be removed, If strong enrollment continues plans for building new permanent brick and mortar classrooms could be in order.