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:
Vice President, Lyons Township School Board. Served on the Board since 2009
Previous community experience:
Manager, La Grange Little League, since 2005/06 Coach, basketball (Celtics and Park District), since 2011 Legacy Guild, Advisory Board Member from inception
Current occupation: Lawyer
B.A. Economics, Swarthmore College, 1982
Law Northwestern School of Law, 1987
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 financial outlook for LT is excellent. When I got on the Board eight years ago, teacher and administrator salaries and related expenses were consuming over 75% of our revenues. Salaries were growing at unsustainable rates and preventing the school from making needed capital improvements. We had spent little in capital improvements the year before I took office. Roofs needed to be replaced, the cafeteria was dismal and the Reber Center needed major renovation. I helped to change expectations about where and how money should be spent by negotiating contracts that linked salaries to the CPI, our revenue base. Salary increases are now under control allowing us to make needed capital improvements. We have replaced infrastructure, built a new dining hall, and revamped the Reber Center. Despite these improvements, I do not see a need for a referendum, absent some unforeseen event would not support one, and guarantee that if we were ever to seek a referendum, the community will be fully informed of the possibility and be given an opportunity to express its views.
Are there programs or areas of the curriculum on which LTHS needs to focus more attention or less attention? How would you rate the education being provided to students of all abilities at LTHS?
As the head of the curriculum committee, I continue to drive changes to ensure that LT is student centered and focused so that each student is given every opportunity to excel to the best of that student’s ability. These changes include full implementation of support rooms and drop in centers, programs of which I am very proud. These resources provide students with one on one learning help, including, in the case of the first, a certified teacher. We have changed expectations at every level such that we are making sure that each student understands essential concepts as he or she moves through a course. Doing so means that each student has an adequate foundation to understand the next part of the course. I am very proud of this change in philosophy.
LTHS is a diverse place, and test scores show there’s an achievement gap between white students and students of color. What is LTHS doing to address those achievement gaps? What more can be done?
See above comments. When I got on the Board, people would say that we were limited in what we could do to help certain students because of factors outside of school. That attitude is no longer accepted and we are offering opportunities for all students to excel, regardless of other impediments that may exist. More minorities are taking AP exams than ever before and we have implemented, in addition to other things, an equity achievement program to further support our minority students. This is an area of focus for me, and the Board in general, and I will continue our efforts in this area during my next term.
Explain your views on the relative advantage of assessments and using them to measure proficiency or growth.
Assessments are valuable when used to make sure that students have learned essential parts of the curriculum and that the curriculum is understandable to students. If an assessment shows that most students are not learning what is needed, one may want to reexamine the way the information is being conveyed. We do not however teach to the assessment. Our philosophy is to instill critical thinking skills in our students, a philosophy that I support and in which I strongly believe.
How does LTHS integrate technology into its curriculum? How is it working? Do you feel there other ways technology can be integrated into the curriculum?
We have worked hard to implement technology into the curriculum in a sensible and cost efficient manner. We are currently upgrading the infrastructure for student use of computers. We have purchased computers for students to use in areas of the curriculum where computer use is important and for testing whether computers in particular areas improve outcomes and learning. We have not adopted a requirement that a student purchase a computer from the school. Such an undertaking imposes high start-up costs on the school, and large costs on taxpayers and families who have children in the school. It also seems unnecessary in that many students in our district have computers. Instead, we are adopting a format that will allow students to link their own devices to our systems. For students who cannot afford a computer, I would support the school purchasing a computer for them. We will continue to identify areas where computers can improve learning and make corresponding changes to how we teach.
What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
Quality public education is critical to our community. I am a product of public schools and believe in it. Eight years ago, I ran on a platform of making LT more student focused, improving the critical thinking skills of students, and not teaching to the test. I also promised to make LT more efficient in how it spent taxpayer money while at the same time tackling some major capital improvement projects. We have made great strides in many of these areas. I would like to complete this work during my next term should the voters decide to re-elect me. Our current board functions well and I support each incumbent who is seeking election.