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: none
Previous community experience:
BNLL coach – 7 yrs
Boy Scout Leader 15 yrs
Bleeding Disorder Alliance – Board of Directors – 6 yrs
South Berwyn Education Foundation – Board of Directors – 2 years
BS in El Ed Illinois State University 1990
MEd in Curriculum and Instruction National Lewis University 1996
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?
The board needs to look at programs for students who are not planning on going to college. There is going to be a huge gap in jobs in the future.
The building was recently remodeled, the roof repaired, the football stadium and field upgraded and the parking issue addressed and on its way to being resolved with the Village of Brookfield. Hopefully moving forward the buildings and grounds issues will be minimal. Of course any Life Safety issues will need to be addressed.
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?
The state and national climate make it necessary to consider the fact that referendums may become the norm not the exception. If the state shifts the pension burden to local schools and freezes property taxes a referendum will become necessary. Before going to referendum possible cuts should be considered but only those things not close to the children.
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?
I have been very pleased at the education that my own children have received at RBHS. I would give it a B+. There is always room for improvement. Ms. Smentana has brought data informed decision making to the school. That is a plus. One thing that I disagree with is the staff’s readiness to push some students who many not be ready to take AP classes because it boosts their stats.
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?
Data informed decision making is helpful when addressing the needs of all sub groups. From what I have seen at recent board meetings the administration is working to address the needs of all learners.
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?
Buy in from all staff and continued staff development is key to keeping the program 1:1 relevant for both students and staff. I was surprised to see that the district recently purchased textbooks. Devices give teachers the ability to use data driven instruction to meet students where they are and personalize learning for each student in their classes. Creating a fail forward culture among students and staff is important in a 1:1 program.
Explain your views on the relative advantage of assessments and using them to measure proficiency or growth.
In this age of accountability, it is inevitable that we measure students based on testing. I think that measuring students’ growth is better than proficiency. Since all students come to us at different levels it is important that teachers meet them where there are help them grow in all academic areas. The PERA teacher evaluation system now used in the State of IL is all based on student growth.
What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
My passion lies with the 1:1 initiative and curriculum development. I also believe that any major changes should come from grass roots efforts. Some type of advisory board, made up of all stakeholder groups, could be important moving forward. I have seen it work in other districts. This is how you get buy in and support from your community.