On March 4, Patch published its , a complete guide to the April 5 consolidated election in Lemont. There you'll find voter information, recent election news and complete candidate biographies.
Before Lemont voters head to the polls, Patch wants to give readers an opportunity to compare where candidates for the School Board stand on key issues. We will publish the questions in separate posts, along with responses from all nine candidates.
How would you work to improve the public’s perception of the District 113A School Board?
I am a proven leader, trust-worthy, responsible, financially astute and very
involved in the schools. I can use these traits to make sure the administration,
board and citizens of the district are headed in the same direction. I plan on
opening lines of communication so that the board knows the feedback and can
make educated decisions based on the responses of the parents, teachers and
I would not participate in a cover-up of the district's financial situation because it is convenient to do so and then put the burden of a $20 million referendum on the ballot, which is vastly more than the district needs and can afford, with only about five minutes of deliberation.
I would encourage theboard to be more accountable to the public by being more transparent with its operations. I would work to put the check book(s) online and make them easily accessible. I would also encourage the public to be more involved with the schools at all times rather than just in times of crisis. I would invite the public to come to the board meetings and watch the new board reform the way it operates. Only a new board will give the public a better chance of a new perception.
I will reverse the stonewalling and the arrogance toward civic-minded residents by being open, honest and transparent. I will be accountable for the board's decisions and will not offload responsibility to unaccountable administrators. I will take all alternatives into consideration, and I will work to offer smarter solutions to meet our district's challenges.
The board has been openly divided and board members have been hostile. The first step would be to show mutual respect for one another.
The board needs to take responsibility for past mistakes, fully explain them and implement procedures to prevent future reoccurrences. Claiming that a board member is simply an unpaid volunteer is insufficient. Board members are elected officials and should be held to that standard.
Moving forward, the board should accommodate community members with two-way communications and should respect and address their concerns.
The financial problems of this district have garnered international attention. To counter that, I would personally work to provide all the financial information in simple terms and in an easy to locate place.
There is a wealth of information available on the district’s website, but I think it could be much more accessible. Better organization and navigation would improve the community’s ability to clearly understand the issues facing our school district and what is being done about them.
While I encourage the public to attend board meetings, the rigid format of those meetings is not conducive to a healthy dialogue. We have lots more work to do, and community input is vital to the process. I would like to see a continuation of the community forums, with representatives of the board and administration engaging with the public in a true discussion of topics of interest. The board has recently taken community input into consideration, crafting financial policies for the budget and the referendum. As the need arises, other policies can be created to address community concerns.
Finally, I will continue to work with the board to demonstrate our dedication to having the district on solid financial footing. That involves maintaining a balanced budget, avoiding deficit spending, and following the state’s recommendations to improve our financial profile.
One could choose the easy way out and hire a public relations person. I never did like the easy way. Instead, I would do the following:
- Work within a budget, utilizing available funds to their fullest potential;
- Make sound decisions based on as much factual evidence possible;
- Educate. You educate the children you are responsible for at the highest levels your revenues can afford. You educate yourself to be a better board member. You educate the community on our responsibility to public education.
By doing the above, one could earn back the trust of this community, thereby improving the public's perception.
I would work to improve the public’s perception of District 113A by working as a team member who recognizes and respects the group decision-making process. I will never compromise my beliefs, but I would not work against the board when the group did not agree with my decisions. School board members are elected by communities to make decisions to benefit children. Diversity and different perspectives are highly valued but a board member must understand that they do not have any individual power. I would also encourage increased communication to all stakeholders.
We need a far more transparent and accountable Board of Education. I think some key steps to achieve this goal include putting the checkbook online, and seeking an in-depth audit and review of contracts and finances. Finally, board members need to take responsibility for the results of their decisions.
I believe we can improve the public’s perception by being transparent with taxpayer dollars. I will continue to push for the checkbook on-line and work to begin a community engagement process. The Board also needs to be respectful of each other even when we disagree.
Editor's Note: Each candidate was allowed a maximum 200 words for their response.