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:
Current RB District No. 208 Board member
Previous community experience:
Board member, Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind; former Board member Auxiliary Board, Art Institute of Chicago; former President of Board of Lutheran Social Services Metropolitan Chicago.
Education: J.D. Harvard Law School – 1980; BA Economics – Knox College – 1977
RBHS has completed or is completing a number of physical improvements to the school, particularly its athletic facilities. Now that the work is complete, on what other long-term projects – either physical, curricular or both — should the board focus its attention?
There are a number of long-term projects that need attention. First, the Board needs to stay focused on the Chromebook roll out to ensure that maximum benefit and utilization of technology is achieved in connection with curriculum integration and teaching efforts. The roll out is half way complete, and I look forward to the next two years to ensuring we have a fully functioning technology integration.
Second, the Board needs to focus on early intervention with respect to those students that are coming to the high school lagging in basic reading, writing and math skills. Efforts are currently being made to target those individuals, and data being provided by ECRA is being used to help focus on particular students with faculty and administration cooperation. A more robust academic support system would be welcome.
Third, the Board has made progress, but needs to continue to focus on district goals. In particular, the graduation rate, ACT scores and attendance need further attention. The new administrators that are in place have brought fresh ideas, such as the “HERO” program. The ECRA data also is being utilized with respect to pinpointing efforts to improve ACT scores, but further creative efforts are warranted.
Finally, there is a relatively new administration in place, and with that has come change. I would encourage and focus on frequent and candid communication with the faculty and instructional leaders to obtain input and buy into the changes that are being implemented.
What is the long-term financial outlook of the school district? Will there be a need to seek new revenues via a referendum, and would you support seeking such a referendum?
In a word, the long-term financial outlook for the school district is uncertain. With potential efforts to shift pension obligations, freeze property taxes and rework the calculation of state contribution to districts potentially in the future, fiscal responsibility will continue to be a focus. The district has operated on basically a balanced budget the last few years, and the projections are such that the next year or two can operate on a balanced basis. I would hope that a referendum would not be necessary during the next four years, as our taxpayers are already footing a hefty tax bill and the recent reassessments for the area provided for large increases. That said, we need to do what is right for the district, depending on the circumstances.
Are there programs or areas of the curriculum on which RBHS needs to focus more attention or less attention? How would you rate the education being provided to students of all abilities at RBHS?
Please see my answer to No. 1 above. As parents of a former RBHS student and a current one, both who are at different levels of ability, I believe that the current education being provided is quite good. Also, having experience with the special education department for a third child, I have been impressed with the efforts being made.
RBHS is becoming a more diverse place in terms of student demographics. What is RBHS doing to address those changes? What more can be done?
As mentioned in my response to No. 1 above, the district is experiencing an increase in those students who are coming to it lagging in some basic skills. Administration and faculty are working using ECRA data to develop personalized approaches to help those students close the gap. This focus needs to be increased, and I would hope become more uniform in the next year or two. Additionally, there was an issue of racial tension which I believe was addressed quickly and candidly. We need to ensure that faculty and administration are aware and sensitive to these issues and that our students have outlets and avenues which are appropriate to raise issues.
The district instituted a Chromebooks program a couple of years back. How do you feel that is working out and are there other ways technology can be integrated into the curriculum?
Please see response to No. 1 above. I would say “so far so good”, but the roll out is only half complete. To my knowledge, administration is aware of its responsibility to ensure as full and complete integration with curriculum and testing efforts as possible.
Explain your views on the relative advantage of assessments and using them to measure proficiency or growth.
No assessment in and of itself is perfect. Rather, I support the use of data provided by ECRA, as well as what we have tried to measure internally, to assist in academic proficiency or growth. The real key is determining those factors that lead to increased proficiency or growth, and developing ways to focus, encourage and develop them.
What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
First, I believe that high school is not just an academic experience, but that extracurricular participation is important to a student’s growth and maturity. RB has a robust sports program, but the arts and clubs for those not athletically minded need to be fully supported as well. I have voted for increased district support in these areas and will continue to do so.
Second, the district has had to operate on a very tight budget the last few years, and will likely need to continue to do so. Fiscal responsibility as a district is key to all of our constituencies: our students, faculty and the taxpaying community. I will continue to advocate for wise stewardship of our funds.