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 experience
PREVIOUS COMMUNITY EXPERIENCE:
Riverside Brookfield Young Life Volunteer/Committee Member
Owner of Property Management and Real Estate Services Company
Owner Real Estate Paralegal Clerical Services Company
First High School of Athens, Athens, Greece
Fenwick High School, Oak Park
Loyola University, Chicago
Lewis University, Romeoville, IL
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 a newcomer to the discussion my knowledge of specific numbers and statistics is somewhat limited. The question of using buildings as grade centers versus neighborhood schools is complex and we are faced with a tug of war between enrollment gains and space constraints. I believe that though the arguments for grade level centers are convincing since uniformity allows for specialization and cost savings, I do believe that configuration with an emphasis on neighborhood rather than grades, would better serve our community. It is the community with its activities and group programs and its close associations with other students and parents that bond. It is in my belief these close bonds are what make for a great community and better prepares our youth for the future.
With reference to the best use for new space at Ames, I take a more conservative approach
Should projected demographics move us closer to a need for additional classroom space, I subscribe to a “build as need” approach or a possibly a prefabricated modular classroom build-out as opposed to traditional brick and mortar construction. Assembly line processes are more cost effective and streamlined and offer flexibility to communities that may be facing an ongoing cash flow challenge or that need to fill current special needs that may change at some point in the future. Exterior and interior finishes, building layouts and classroom technologies can all be integrated into a custom modular structure.
Do you support full-day kindergarten? If so, how can the district implement such a program?
I do support the concept of full day kindergarten program and understand the value that it can provide to children in the form of increased academic potential and to their working parents in the form of decrease childcare expenses and increased opportunities to move into the workforce or further increase their annual household income. I am at the same time sympathetic to the voices of those in the community who may not directly be affected by these benefits. As part of the discussion, I would favor a tuition-based program.
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?
Cost is what drives change. And Chromebooks has done just that. Essentially offering students and users the like tools to do the job without sacrificing value or performance. Our technology devices unfortunately will become disposable paperweights. It’s not about what’s the best; it’s about what’s good enough.
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?
Having left the U.S. at 11 years of age, and having been educated during in Europe, I was immersed in what was unfamiliar to me. The language, the cultural barriers, all new. Maybe times were different then or maybe the thought was “he’ll be fine”.
I was fortunate that I had instructors who identified my weaknesses and who took the time to guide me and encourage me. Through after school tutoring and Saturday classroom instruction (yes school was 6 days a week) I soon assimilated into the program.
It is just that… allowing all children to assimilate and feel part of the American culture and experience. Nurturing their strengths and bolstering their weakness and turn them into successes. That’s the job of the school and of teachers.
Explain your views on the relative advantage of assessments and using them to measure proficiency or growth.
Assessments are an effective tool if used properly. I have heard that at times are overused. Leaning heavily on proficiency rates or average test scores can be unfair if overused. A more sustained approach over a long period of time will yield information that is more accurate and therefore more useful to educators and to their students
What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
Financial clarity– Taxpayers understand both the benefits and the responsibilities of what means to “being in a good school district” Trying to strike a responsible balance between wants and reality.
Communication and Involvement– I would encourage all those who truly want to see improvements and changes made to step up and speak-up. There are excellent ideas out there, but that go unexplored because people think that there voice isn’t important or that it can’t make a difference. It can.
Think outside of the box= Money…How can we raise money without running to the taxpayer. The long term outlook doesn’t look very bright. Though our district currently sits on what is considered a healthy reserve, things change. The State budget continues to erode at resources for education. Belt tightening is sure to be a topic of discussion in the near future. Quick fixes are not a good answer.
Maybe establishing a corporate grant or foundation grant. Look to individual and corporate sponsors for donations. We like to say that we live in a “wealthy” community.
Who orchestrates this? Well It comes from the top down. It is the school leaders that must be the driving force, who must be passionate and excited. They are the catalyst that champion the ideas and bring the community together.