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: RB Board Member 2011-2019
Previous community experience: Volunteer youth coach
A.B. Economics, B.S. Chemical Engineering Stanford
MBA UC Berkeley
MD University of Illinois
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?
Although our fund balances now earn financial recognition from the state, our financial consultant suggests we will encounter deficit spending in the near future. Our revenue is mostly local property taxes, and new revenue is constrained by the property tax cap at under $500,000. The state increased contribution last year was only $70,000 and likely will not increase according to our auditor and given the state’s finances.
We face a potential shift in the state pension obligation. If this occurs, I believe we would have to ask the community for a rate increase to maintain our programs.
Budget forecasting is uncertain, and we have been fortunate to maintain close to a balanced budget given the limited success of tax appeals and greater tax collection. At this point our projections have little room for error.
My goal is to have sustainable spending so we do not dig a hole as in 2011 and ask the taxpayers to bail out the district. When the referendum failed, we had to cut costs which was disruptive to the school. The chance for a successful referendum has decreased given the SALT deduction limitations, as well as recent road construction bonds in Brookfield and District 95 construction.
Nevertheless, some costs continue to rise which we have no control such as special education. The teacher’s contract is the main driver of spending with which the Board has substantial input.
Before we would spend down our fund balances, I would support asking the community for a rate increase. If they said no, I would support cutting spending accordingly. At any referendum I would support asking the community to consider ways to save money such as consolidation of the school districts in our community. This would also potentially allow us to better coordinate curriculum and offer more courses. A referendum could also be timed to coincide with retirement of capital bonds as to lessen any tax increase.
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?
We have a strong college preparatory curriculum. However, college is not for everyone and can burden students with debt and no degree. I would support a Board goal to investigate strengthening the curriculum for those not wanting to attend college. I would also focus more attention on the computer science curriculum for all students.
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?
RB’s number one goal should be academic achievement for all who enter. We must maintain a welcoming environment for all students with a positive learning culture. We should continue to encourage participation in extracurricular activities so students of all backgrounds can interact outside the classroom.
Explain your views on the relative advantage of assessments and using them to measure proficiency or growth.
I support the state’s effort to measure student growth on the school report card. Part of the difficulty has been the assessments keep changing. I would support a Board goal of measuring student growth rather than just an ACT goal. One advantage is we could see where we need to focus. To keep community support, we need to measure educational output as well as consider inputs.
What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
I graduated from RB in 1979, and I settled in Brookfield so my family could attend RB. My extended family has been involved with or supported RB for nearly fifty years, and I know the community has generally supported our school. I would not support any initiative which would jeopardize community support. We have the advantage of being a relatively small high school that is still comprehensive in its courses and extracurricular activities. My role as a Board member is to help continue the tradition of excellence in a way that is sustainable for future students and families.