Dist. 300 Board Candidates Discuss Challenges Ahead

Article excerpt

Six candidates are vying for three, 4-year terms on the Community Unit District 300 board in the April 7 election. Candidates were asked to complete a questionnaire; some excerpts from their answers are given below. The candidates include incumbents Anne Miller and Karen Roeckner and challengers Dave Alessio, Dorota Jordan, Robert Lee and Tracey Perez. For more on the race, visit our "Election 2009" page at www.dailyherald.com.

Q. What is the greatest challenge faced by your district? Please explain your position on how to address it.

Alessio: The greatest challenge for District 300 will be the current economic conditions. We need to pay close attention to the fiscal health of our district in order to continue programs which are working to improve student learning. I will review expenditures to ensure they build toward the long-term stability of all the schools in our district. I have experience understanding school finance from service on the board finance committee for more than three years, continuing at the request of the current board. Along with District 300 financial experts, I have always examined the future cost of all large expenditures and have used five-year projections prepared for the district to make planning decisions. No single program should be enacted without considering the impact to the overall district budget.

Jordan: The greatest challenge facing the district is balancing the budget and keeping the district in the "black." The current economy, in conjunction with state legislators, will challenge the district to find cost-cutting measures that will not affect the education and well-being of the students in the district as well as their educators. A review of operations and expenditures would

be the first area to address; the second would be renegotiations and adjustments to long-term contracts.

Lee: District 300AEs size is an enormous challenge. The diverse nature of our school district means we must integrate numerous community settings (urban, suburban and rural) into an equitable and effective educational system. The large geographical footprint of our school district makes it inevitable that the size of our student population will grow. Finally, the residential nature of our district means a higher ratio of students to tax dollars collected. In other words, our districtAEs size and nature means we must learn to provide a better education with less money. The most effective way to improve our educational opportunities is to create and use processes that increase administrative efficiency. My proposals to use Financial Impact Statements will help the board and community to identify programs that are financially disastrous to the school district. My proposal to use data-driven quality objectives will help to effectively and reasonably allocate resources to programs that help students learn. Our goal should be to always find the best way to provide twice the educational value at half the cost to the families of District 300.

Miller: Our greatest current challenge is to be able to continue improving student academic achievement while maintaining financial stability and fiscal responsibility during economically challenging times. As a board member, I will continue to encourage the board and administration to continue to be current and involved with school funding issues, be vigilant in maintaining a balanced budget and utilize our EPRT to make additions or reductions in programs.

Perez: The biggest challenge will be allocating financial resources in a responsible and equitable manner to ensure the boardAEs focus remains on providing high-quality education. Resource allocation must be transparent and prioritized to support the achievement of academic goals.

Roeckner: 1. Schools not making adequate yearly progress, which is part of No Child Left Behind. As the AYP percentage increases each year, more of our schools will be challenged to make the goal of every student meeting standards. …