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: This election represents my first run for public office.
Previous community experience:
2009 – 2010: Member and then Chair, Riverside Economic Development Commission (during my tenure the EDC helped to start and develop Riverside Arts Weekend and the Farmers Market, and published the Wright in Riverside brochure)
2013 – 2019: Board Member and Treasurer, Riverside Little League
2016 – present: Volunteer, Housing Forward (formerly West Suburban PADS)
Occupation: Director, Cook County Government Risk Management Department (includes Employee Benefits, Workers Compensation and General Liability divisions)
1994 B.A. Illinois Wesleyan University
2003 M.A. University of Illinois at Springfield
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 current Board and administration have worked diligently to stabilize the fiscal outlook for District 208. However, there are numerous uncertainties that cannot be strictly forecast, including the state of the economy, the impact of local property tax assessments and state legislation related to pension requirements. For these reasons and to insure the future stability of District 208, new revenues may be required in order to continue the quality approach to education that we have come to expect from District 208. No referendum should be pursued, however, without extensive planning and communication to the impacted communities. If elected to the Board I would support a strategic planning effort to review and communicate the full financial outlook of the District to all stakeholders and work together with residents of the District 208 communities both Brookfield and Riverside to make decisions that will ensure the future success of our school.
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 am a strong supporter of the educational opportunities in our community and my children are either currently attending or will attend RBHS. District 208 is not immune to the challenges inherent to public education, and balancing demands such as Advanced Placement offerings and Special Education requirements within a constrained budget often results in some displeasure. However, RBHS’ small size, dedicated teachers and parental engagement ultimately prevail and provide a quality high school experience for our students.
I look forward to being part of a Board that prioritizes the hiring of strong educators, dedicated administrators and qualified support staff in support of the shared goal of allowing all students to fulfill their potential.
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?
The goal of the District 208 Board and administration should be to reflect the communities served and promote a variety of perspectives. RBHS has, unfortunately, fallen behind on this goal. Actively recruiting and attracting diverse applicants to instruction and support positions should be a priority of the Board and administration. As a member of this Board, I will ensure that the resources allocated will be aligned with this priority. I would also encourage diversity among those seeking to fill other Board positions.
Explain your views on the relative advantage of assessments and using them to measure proficiency or growth.
As a public sector manager, I fully support the need to measure and report out performance not just as a management tool but also as an indicator of taxpayer value. However, parents of students recognize that the pendulum has swung towards too many hours spent testing on content not broadly applicable. I would support the Board working with the State Board of Education to minimize the required testing hours and to realign testing policies, similar to the changes currently being made around Illinois PARCC testing.
What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
RBHS is a very good school and the elected Board needs to ensure a focus on both continuous improvement and the smart use of resources. In addition to charting a course for fiscal health, the Board is entrusted to lead public policy efforts, from the advocacy of sound policies at the State level to the more localized support of the arts, music and athletics.
Residents of Brookfield and Riverside should be proud of the school in our community, and actively engaged in making decisions around its future success. I would support a strategic planning effort to provide guidance to the Board and administration. A robust strategic plan should address operational and capital priorities and allow for an informed discussion between students, parents, residents, educators and staff.