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:
Ran for District 96 school board in 2015
Previous community experience:
District 96 Technology Steering Committee, 2 years. Riverside resident since 2012
Occupation: Project Manager / Scrum Master
MBA concentrated in Management Information Systems and Economics from DePaul University, Bachelors degree in Finance from West Virginia University
The district has commissioned a comprehensive facilities survey as it looks to address 21st century classrooms and learning. The district has also purchased land next to Ames School. Is there a different way District 96 can provide services, for example, using buildings a grade centers versus neighborhood schools? What would be the best use for the new space at Ames?
As the facilities in D96 get older, addressing our basic infrastructure needs, such as the roof at Blythe Park and classroom space at Ames, take precedence. I am curious to see what the cost estimates will be for new classroom space at Ames and where the sweetspot is for rooms/$ expense. For elementary schools, especially earlier grades, I am a big believer in neighborhood schools. Although, it should be noted that my daughter went to Central although we live in the Blythe area. I am curious to see if a centralized location for a potential all-day kindergarten program would help reduce costs to make such a program self-sustaining.
Do you support full-day kindergarten? If so, how can the district implement such a program?
Coming from a family with two working parents, I understand the value and increased academic potential that all-day kindergarten can provide. As a taxpayer, I also understand that new shared expenses should not be taken on lightly. Many other area districts have struggled with the question of all-day kindergarten. I would like to see cost estimates for the district for all-day kindergarten and determine if a tuition-based program could be self-supporting in D96. Also, I would be interested to see if cost efficiencies would be gained by placing all-day kindergarten in a single location. Such new commitments must be satisfactory not just to affected parents, but to the community at large.
What’s been the impact for students from the district’s change in its 1-to-1 program, replacing MacBooks with Chromebooks? Are there other ways technology can be integrated into the curriculum?
There can be no argument that any Chromebook provides the same tools and features as a MacBook. However, there can also be no argument that no MacBook can provide the features and performance of a Chromebook at a price point of less than $500. While some features on a Chromebook are less advanced than a MacBook, the great difference in price along with each class receiving the latest technologies rather than potentially recycled MacBooks, I am quite happy with the overall benefits of this change.
In terms of utilizing the available technologies, the vast majority of educational content available from vendors is relatively simplistic, taking what is available in textbooks and merely adapting or augmenting it for a screen. I look to innovative teachers in the district who incorporate technologies into their lessons and application providers who create learning tools useful for students and teachers to show us the way.
District 96’s student body is becoming more diverse, as evidenced by ELL programs at both Central and Ames schools. How should the district address that growing diversity moving forward?
We owe it to all students in the district to provide them with an environment in which they can succeed. It is the responsibility of the district to understand student needs as well as have a strong grasp of best practices in meeting those needs. Through this understanding we can build a path to English proficiency and overall student growth.
Explain your views on the relative advantage of assessments and using them to measure proficiency or growth.
No assessment can be perfect or measure each individual’s true knowledge, however, in this day and age, assessments are mandated both at the State and Federal levels, provide valuable data back to parents and staff and cannot be ignored. In districts such as D96, our students are likely to present a high degree of proficiency before the first lesson is taught. I believe it makes sense to measure proficiency but also keep a strong watch on growth. By measuring student growth, one can look to insure that not only our our brightest students getting brighter, but also that our students in the middle are moving up and our students who are struggling are making progress up the ladder rather than being left behind.
What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
Although D96 schools offer a good deal of extracurricular activities and clubs to help keep students engaged at school, I would like to see more options in school athletics offered to students both at Hauser and at higher grade levels of elementary schools. As a parent, I was greatly disappointed to find the athletics options for sixth graders at Hauser were very limited. I was shocked when my child tried out for distance running in sixth grade and was cut. Since then, I have heard that many sports at Hauser have more participants than can be accommodated. Yes, Rec sports and Club leagues are available in the area, but our schools should not abdicate this part of a child’s overall education. I would like to see more additions of no-cut teams and sports and junior varsity options made available where possible.
I would advocate this by speaking with parents and other members of the community, asking questions of the administration and listening to their recommendations. Finally, talking with other board members to ask their opinion and providing evidence to help persuade them towards mine.