Nine candidates are running for four seats on the Danville school board in the April 9 consolidated election. Here's a look at the candidates and the six questions The News-Gazette asked them.
Darlene Halloran, 59, Danville
Political experience: None
Occupation: Education liaison at Mervis Industries Inc.; retired Danville High School guidance counselor.
Family: Husband, Tom, and three children.
Other: Race to the Top education funding state advisory committee; Danville High School's STEM Education and School Improvement committees; Leadership Danville graduate; Past board member of Center for Children's Services, Danville Economic Development, Leadership Danville Alumni Board, Masonic Dyslexic Learning Center, Boys and Girls Club of Danville, State Farm Drop-Out Prevention Initiative and Danville High's restructuring committee; and former volunteer assistant coach for Danville High's girls soccer team.
Why are you running for school board, and what will you bring?
I would like to have a voice in the direction of the school district and its future leadership.
What actions should the district take to remain financially stable in light of unstable state funding and declining property tax revenues? Would you support raising taxes?
We should work hard to ensure that the state does not back out of its commitment to our school district. It is imperative that the state make education a No. 1 priority and reallocate funds to support education. There's no precedent for the state not honoring its commitment to education. If Illinois does not fund education at the current level, each community will have to decide at what level we fund education. We will have to have an organized community conversation.
What steps can be taken to ensure that more students meet/exceed learning standards and graduate?
Our current curriculum should include but not be limited to the Common Core Standards in education. A renewed effort should be made to include parents in the educational process and encourage them to accept ownership in the evaluation process of our schools and emphasize the importance of graduating to their children.
Superintendent Mark Denman is retiring in June 2015. What qualities should the next superintendent have, and what should his/her priorities be?
He/she should have a good business background with an understanding of the Illinois state budget, the implication of the new health-care legislation and the impact on the current budget and a knowledge of grant-based programs. He/she should demonstrate the ability to motivate educators with a sound knowledge of successful educational initiatives and create great morale in our buildings.
How can the district attract and retain top-notch staff?
The challenges of our student population, financial situation, health care costs and meeting state standards are no different than what most other districts are facing. I believe that the district has innovative programs such as Northeast Magnet School and the upper houses at Danville High School, which set us apart from many other districts. Encouraging new teachers and administrators to learn about us, visit us and engage in our unique efforts is essential. I believe that we must create a better relationship between administration, the board and the unions so this does not detract from attracting good people to our community.
If a parent or community member came to you with a concern, what should your role be in resolving the issue?
My strongest asset from my years as a counselor is to listen to their concern. My role as a board member is to guide them to the proper resource to address their concern and follow up to be sure that it has been addressed.