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: no previous elected office
Previous community experience:
Riverside Swim Club:
Secretary 2012-2015, President 2015-present
Riverside Planning and Zoning: July 2016 -present
Occupation: Civil Engineer
BA Political Science –Univ. Illinois Urbana
BS Civil Engineering – Illinois Institute of Technology
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?
I do not believe the community would support the grade center concept, nor do I believe that the concept is preferable to the current system. While there may be some advantage to having all classes of the same grade in the same building, especially for teacher collaboration, the current system of neighborhood schools promotes the small town feel many people are looking for when they move to areas served by District 96. The elementary schools act as mini-communities with a strong sense of belonging as the children progress though K-5. Additionally, the K-5 schools better serve the families with children in those age groups as there is only one location to transport the kids to. Grade centers would probably require some kind of school provided transport or staggered schedules to accommodate families with children in multiple grades. The transition by all students to Hauser for 6 -8 seems to work well.
The Ames property can initially be used for green space until the study is completed and its conclusions assessed. (This also appears to be the current plan based on discussions at the most recent Board meeting.) Any plan for Ames should include more green space as unpaved ground is currently limited to only the area around the play equipment. Additional classroom space is always a possibility and has been a historical need at Ames, but this is dependent on projected demographics. Without the survey in hand, I cannot suggest a permanent use.
Do you support full-day kindergarten? If so, how can the district implement such a program?
I cannot commit to a full day program without understanding the financial implications: additional staff would be required and I would tend to believe that additional classroom space would be required as well. Also, while full day kindergarten would be helpful to many families, especially those dependent on day care, our community is such that the majority of children do not require a full day of kindergarten to be successful in first grade.
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?
While the Chromebooks may not have all of the features of the MacBooks, I do not believe that this was a significant change for the students. (My youngest daughter would probably disagree as she was not fond of the Chromebooks when they were initially presented.) The computers are merely a tool to help the students learn. Whether via screen or paper, the real question should be: are the kids learning? With the computers, I am more concerned that the students have an interactive experience rather than passive and that they learn how to evaluate and assess information made available electronically.
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?
Continue to support the ELL program while mainstreaming as much as possible to avoid a two-tiered educational experience and encouraging respect for other cultures than the majority.
Explain your views on the relative advantage of assessments and using them to measure proficiency or growth.
I believe that assessments do have a place, especially when trying to evaluate overall school or district performance and progress. They can also help to track individual students as well (MAP tests for example.) However, the tests do not happen in a vacuum and other factors that affect student life/performance have to be recognized, such as the effect of community wealth and standard of living, poverty and school resources. Tests have to be part of the evaluation process, but cannot be the only thing we look at.
‘Teaching to the test’ is a mistake if it distracts from, for lack of a better term, the three Rs.
What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
It is relatively common knowledge that the District is in excellent financial health, but that health is not guaranteed as time moves on. One of my challenges would be to balance the financial needs of the schools with the need (resources) of the taxpayers. Some of the tax rates for individual funds (education and building, for example) are at their legal maximums and increases are dependent on growth in assessed valuation. I believe that additional expenses (i.e. programs or improvements) need to be carefully considered and may not be supported if the benefit is too costly. With my children leaving the district in another year and a half, yet having a niece and nephew just starting their Hollywood school experience and with a cousin’s children in the middle of it, I think that I have a good perspective on this challenge.