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

Age: 64

Office Sought: School Board Member, Lyons Elementary School District 103

Previous Political Experience: None

Previous Community Involvement: 

  • Organizer of the Lyons Community Market
  • Treasurer of the Lyons Retirees
  • Member of the Village of Lyons Zoning Board of Appeals
  • Member of the Lyons-McCook Business Association
  • Member of InfraGard
  • Public Member of the Village of Lyons Tax Increment Financing Board
  • Volunteer City of Chicago Police Department Peer Program

Education:

  • High School Graduate with Additional College Credits Achieved
  • State of Illinois Licensed Security Contractor

Occupation: Retired, City of Chicago Police Officer

Why do you want to be a school board member:

I strongly believe the School Board should be an unbiased group of dedicated residents who act as a voice for the children of our community as well as the taxpayers.  My goal is to introduce that type of custodianship to Elementary School District 103 School Board.

How many meetings have you attended in the past year? 2


Candidates Jorge “Rene” Torres, Coleen “Dawn” Shipbaugh, Gregory “Greg” Ramirez, Catherine “Katie” Broderick and Michael “Mike” Bennett, who are running as the Parents for Student Excellence slate, provided collective answers to the following questions.

What is the most important issue facing the next school board, and what should the solution be?

There is not one single issue facing our school district. There are three issues that are inherently linked together.

They are safety, improved educational programs and instructions, and school leadership accountability.

We need to ensure that our children are placed in a safe and secure environment so that they can focus on learning. At the same time, our school leadership needs to be accountable to the public both to reinforce public confidence and parental and community engagement.

The new school board must be independent and accountable to the public, including to parents of school children and taxpayers who do not have children in the schools at this time or whose children have graduated.

Accountability means that the school district holds the administrative staff, the teachers and especially the superintendent to the highest standards of accountability for the performance of our children. We believe that the current board has failed to be accountable for the poor performance at our schools including dismal school ratings, poor test scores, and wasteful spending that has weakened our educational system.

If elected, what changes would you like to have accomplished by the end of your term?

The first thing we would do is reinforce community engagement by exploring ways to attract parental involvement in the school process. We need to educate the parents about the teaching processes and programs so they can help monitor the progress of their children. And the administration, teachers and superintendent need to work with the parents to identify areas of need.

We need to be mindful of the burden of education on our taxpayers in the sense of ensuring that every dollar that goes into the school system is maximized to improve educational performance of our students.

We have to end wasteful spending and one way to do that is to engage the parents and public to heighten community awareness of how money is spent. This ensures that the school leadership will remain accountable.

We should explore making parental engagement a part of every school child’s experience. We need to find a way to engage parents into the education of their children and in the school system itself.

If elected, what changes would you most strongly resist?

We would oppose increasing taxes simply to fill gaps in the poor performances of the school district. We need to evaluate each program and to carefully review spending to ensure that every dollar is maximized for the benefit of our student’s education.

What other issues facing the school district are of interest to you? Why?

Again, we believe that safety and security of our children coupled with accountability and education leadership within our schools should be our number one priority. Without security, no matter how strong our curriculum and teaching programs, our children will not be able to maximize their learning and education.

The main issue we need to highlight through this election is improving the school ratings and the test scores. We need to regain the confidence of our community and thereby have them become more involved. The ratings of our schools are at dismal levels and the current board must accept responsibility not only for the poor performances but also for their failure to reverse the education trends out our schools.

In order to achieve that, we must ensure our faculty members and staff are well equipped with the tools and resources they need to help the children succeed to their fullest capacity.