District 300 Board Candidates Square off on Budget Cuts
Six candidates are running for four, 4-year seats on the Community Unit District 300 Board of Education.
Challengers Steve Fiorentino and Susie Kopacz face incumbents Joe Stevens, Monica Clark, Karen Plaza and Chris Stanton.
The Daily Herald asked the candidates a series of questions on district issues. Here are some of their responses.
Q. With significant budget cuts already made and more on the horizon, how do you propose the district maintain teaching standards? Please be specific.
Clark. That is a tough question and normally I would refer you back to the experts but to answer the question, I would establish standards and accountability for all building administrators, particularly principals. Without strong leadership and accountability at the top teaching standards and morale will continue to decline. To lead in this new technological arena we must continue to provide resources to the classroom teachers. I would like to institute pay for performance and some real competition among the different school levels.
Fiorentino. We cannot allow the performance of our educational system to mirror our state's financial crisis. The state of Illinois continues to not pay their bills. We must balance what we intend to accomplish at the state and the local levels. I look forward to utilizing my Government and Public Affairs experience to work with our state and local public servants. Performance based metrics and reward/ recognition are critical to ensure quality.
Kopacz. Good teachers have an underlying moral value of helping students achieve. Whether they have the resources or not, teachers will work to ensure a student's success, of that I have no doubt. But I also know the District 300 Administration, especially the curriculum department is committed to meeting state standards and more. I look forward to working with the administration to use creativity and manpower to meet goals of excellence. Education WILL take place, no matter what. Doing without gives teachers the opportunity to be creative with their time and talents and I have no doubt they will NOT let the students fail. With those values and the Administration's pursuit of a quality education, I believe the students in District 300 will still be provided academic excellence.
Plaza. Teaching and learning standards can be maintained if class sizes are maintained at current levels. This can be accomplished by negotiating concessions from the labor groups to avoid additional layoffs.
Stanton. With the budget cuts already made and the new ones proposed, we as a board and the administration have to find a way to reduce class sizes. If we allow our class sizes to continue to grow it will become increasingly more difficult to have high performing students. Our district needs to continue focus on college readiness, strengthening our core curriculum and possibly changing our block schedule in our high schools to allow more flexibility in scheduling classes and teachers.
Stevens. I would refer to a change that both Mrs. Clark and I proposed last year and were successful in achieving. We proposed to have the administration either improve the gifted learning program or scrap it. This caused quite an uproar but in the end, the cost of the program was cut in half and the quality measurably improved. Prior to the exchange, gifted students were pulled from the classroom for several hours a week and given "gifted" education. The change made instead trained all teachers on how to teach to the gifted child every day and it has the spillover effect of improving the other students education too.
Mr. Bregy's focus is on teaching and learning. With that, announced in a recent press release, there will be significant changes to our curriculum and instruction area within the central administration. I have worked closely with Mr. Bregy to support these changes.
I am strongly supportive of the group of employees known as the "Divisionals" who are subject matter experts who work with the teaching staff to assure best practices are carried out in the classroom. …