Shaw Media / NW Herald

Community involvement*

What community groups, if any, do. you belong to? And/or what volunteer work?

Community involvement is an important aspect of a strong, successful community and one of the primary reasons I am running for Huntley 158 School Board.  I am the Assistant Scoutmaster, Secretary, Communications Director and Fundraising Chairman for Huntley Scout Troop 200.  I was on the panel that developed the five-year strategic planning.  Additionally, I participated in the community advisory group for Huntley School District 158.  I have helped organize fundraisers, chaperoned field trips and spent time in the classroom, at my children’s schools at Mackeben, Conley and Heineman.  I am also very involved in some local educational organizations.  I am the Chairman of the Chicagoland Chapter of the Google Educator Groups (GEG).  I am on the Governing Board for Illinois Digital Educator Alliance (IDEA) and on the planning team for IDEAcon, the largest conference for educators in Illinois.  I am the Chairman of SAMRi Teacher Camp, an annual conference held for educators in the local area.  I am always seeking more opportunities to become involved and support the growth and development of our community for all residents.  

Marital status/Immediate family

Do you have a spouse, and how many children do you have?

My wife is a fellow educator.  We have two children who attend Huntley 158 schools. Our son is an 8th grader at Heineman and our daughter is a 3rd grader at Conley. We need the voice of active parents of current students with representation on the board of education.  

Why are you running for office?*

I have lived in the Huntley area since 1990 and am a parent of two children who attend Huntley 158.  I have a vested interest in achieving the highest possible standards of education for the children of our community. As a teacher, I know the importance of having community support for our school system.  I am a non-partisan candidate and want to keep divisive politics from interfering with our school system's ability to provide the highest quality education to each and every student who attends Huntley School District 158.  The goal for a school district is to educate and put students on a path for lifelong learning.  Students should choose their own path and not be indoctrinated with a particular idea or belief. I want each student to graduate with a strong foundation of the fundamentals that mark a well educated person in our society.  The focus has been and should always be on the students who make up our community.

What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?*

As a long time distinguished educator, devoted parent and active member of the community, I am qualified to become a member of the Huntley School District 158 Board of Education.  I have put in the work to learn and understand the roles and responsibilities for a board member.  I am connected to the local community and am prepared to be a voice for the community on the board of education.  

Have you sought and/or received any training to run for your local school board? If so, from whom?*

No, I have not received any formal training to run for local school board.  However, I do have two masters degrees in the field of education and a wealth of experience and am highly qualified for the position I am seeking. 

Would you propose any changes to the curriculum? If so, what?

It is not easy to design a curriculum that is going to meet the needs of our students while preparing them for an unknown future.  When I was in school I memorized facts.  Now with the abundance of technology there is no place I can go where I cannot find the same information.  As a school district, we need to think critically about the skills and ideals that we prepare our students with when they graduate.  The ability to be flexible, resilient, collaborative, think critically, communicate with the world around them, solve problems and more.  We need to prepare our students with the skills they will need to become well-rounded members of society.  We cannot ignore the mental health and well-being of our students who are subjected to so many influences outside our school system. The challenge we face is designing a curriculum that provides our students with the balance of information as well as the ability to distinguish that from mis-information, in the world around them.   

Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district? *

All students in our schools should be treated fairly and no student should be subject to bullying, shaming or a lack of inclusiveness.  If there are any instances where students are not being treated fairly, then these issues need to be immediately addressed.  

What is your assessment of how Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is handled in your school district? *

The work of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a long complicated process that involves the unraveling of years of systemic issues that put many of our student population in a difficult position.  I am proud of how Huntley 158 has approached the work of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, however, there will be more that we need to do.  This work will not resolve itself but rather need focused community, teacher, administrator and school board involvement to ensure that we are providing the best, most equitable programs for our students to thrive.  

Do you believe the district needs to make any changes to improve DEI in your district?*

There will need to be a continued focus on DEI in Huntley 158 to ensure that this work remains a priority and focus.  One area is increasing the awareness of the work that is happening with DEI in the district.  I also think that there needs to be a purposeful integration of DEI at all levels.  Huntley High School is excelling with their RAD (Recognizing American Diversity) events but what does DEI look like at the elementary and middle school levels and how can we increase all students' awareness and understanding to reduce bullying and increase understanding and acceptance for all students across the district.  

Are teachers in your district paid adequately now and in retirement? *

Huntley 158 must focus on hiring and retaining a high quality staff.  We are seeing a disproportionate level of teachers leaving Huntley 158 to take new positions in other school districts.  We need to establish salaries that are competitive with surrounding school districts to attract and retain the highest quality teachers for our students.  

Would you support changes to teacher pay scales? If so, how?*

I definitely support changes to the teacher pay scales.  I was glad to see that Governor Prtizer signed legislation in August 2021 that raised the base salary for teachers across the state.  This was welcome news for teachers across the state including Huntley 158.  We need to do more through merit based programs to make sure that we retain our best teachers.  

Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.*

Ultimately, yes, Huntley 158 has been very successful and continues to remain innovative and forward thinking.  As a member of the board of education, I will work to continue to ensure that the district performs at a high level.  Otherwise, the superintendent needs to be held accountable.

Would you make any changes to how the district superintendent is compensated?*

The compensation for the district superintendent is tied to goals and benchmarks set by the Board of Education.  

What is your assessment of the district superintendent’s compensation? 

Scott Rowe is one of highest paid Superintendents in the region, when compared against our comparable districts.  The previous board gave Scott Rowe a contract extension despite having 2 years on his contract remaining.  The compensation for the district superintendent is tied to goals and benchmarks set by the Board of Education.  

Should schools in your district adopt and teach sex education according to the National Sex Education Standards? Please explain.*

We cannot ignore sex education.  The National Sex Education Standards have been developed by the American School Health Association and other very smart groups.  I think that it is a reasonable program that provides resources for students to learn. I appreciate the format of these standards and the scaling of explanations by grade bands.  

What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?*

It is a waste of time to criticize school administrators for their ability to predict the unpredictable.  After 100 years, who ever imagined that our teachers would be called upon to pivot to remote learning.  No one can predict what another outbreak might be like or if there is another crisis that might befall our community.  I am an Instructional Technologist for a large successful school district.  I was impressed at how quickly school systems, including Huntley 158, pivoted to use digital resources to keep kids learning with no advanced warnings.  Strong school districts, including Huntley, didn’t stall, but instead acted swiftly in providing educational opportunities for kids to learn and grow.  The challenges were many at times. It was chaotic but we kept kids learning.  Whatever the next crisis may be, the important thing is that we look at the situation, what tools are available and design and develop a solution to keep our kids learning and supported despite the obstacles.

What did you learn from the pandemic?*

From the pandemic, we learned and saw the power of community support.  When communities came together to support one another, we were able to do great things.  We learned that the work that Huntley 158 and other local districts had done prepared our students to continue learning.  We need to continue to remain innovative and forward thinking. We learned that the teachers of Huntley 158 are amazing.  Despite the challenges, they kept kids learning and succeeding.  We learned about the importance of communication.  We saw the misinformation that was impacting so much of the world around us.  We learned the importance of media literacy and that this must be a skill that we are instilling in our students to prepare them for life.  

Are voters that support your district taxed at an appropriate level?*

A strong school district benefits all residents of a community, not only those with children who attend the schools.  We became a destination school district, we became a community where families want to live and this helps all of us develop and thrive in a positive environment.  The district has shown to be fiscally responsible, in the majority of their decisions.  When you look at the district’s operational spending per pupil versus benchmark districts Huntley 158 is $12,617 which is almost $3,500 below the state average and one of the lowest costs per pupil in the surrounding areas.  This is directly related to Huntley’s tax rate of 4.54 and EAV per student of $178,797 which are both some of the lowest.  Also, Huntley 158 has made efforts in sustainability to ensure that the district remains forward thinking and financially wise for years to come. 

Would you support any plans to raise taxes in the district? If so, what should the additional revenue be spent on?*

If there is a proposal to raise taxes on district residents, I would examine the proposal closely to ensure that the costs are appropriate and that the additional revenue is spent directly on increasing student learning outcomes.  

Would you support lowering taxes in the district? If so, what programs or services in the district would you cut?*

The budget of the district always needs to be reviewed and analyzed.  I would support the idea of lowering taxes for our community's residents.  However, this will not be at the expense of student programs that impact learning outcomes.  

Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?*

Yes, I will accept the voters’ decision on Election Day.  

What is your position on open, transparent government?

I believe that governments must work to be as open and transparent as possible!  It is only when the government is open that we can truly work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Government should be transparent.  Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.  Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government's effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Government should be collaborative.  Collaboration actively engages the citizens of a community in the work of their Government. 

Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?*

Yes, I support the Freedom of Information Act and I believe citizens’ should have the ability to freely access government records.