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 three of the six questions The News-Gazette asked them. More information about the candidates and their responses to all six questions are available at http://www.news-gazette.com.
Frank Young, 59, Danville
Political experience: Danville school board, 2009-present; Vermilion County state's attorney, 2000-2008; Danville Area Community College board, 1989-2000.
Family: Wife, Anne
Other: Member of the Prairie Center board, Danville YMCA board, Danville Noon Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Danville Chapter of AMBUCS, 33rd degree Mason and St. James United Methodist Church.
Why are you running for school board, and what will you bring?
I love the Danville community, and I want to try and make Danville a better place to live. I will bring to the board a broad base of experience. I have 32 years of the practice of law, including eight years as Vermilion County state's attorney. My financial background includes an accounting degree from the University of Illinois and eight years working the state's attorney's budget. My business experience includes running a small law office for over 20 years and negotiating contracts with five different unions while I was the state's attorney. Other experience includes 11 years as a DACC trustee and my last 3 years as a board member of District 118.
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?
There is no question that District 118 faces some daunting financial challenges. The district faces a "perfect storm": less state revenue, lower property values, less federal assistance, high unemployment and rising prices. Our current financial situation is not a short-term solution. It is the new reality. District 118 should position itself so that its current revenue covers its current expenses. We cannot increase our current expenditures thinking to cover them by simply using our reserves. This position would be fiscally irresponsible. Given our current situation, I cannot support voting for any property tax increases. What must happen is a fundamental change in how we finance our schools. We must get away from a property-tax-based system and go to an income-tax-based system.
What steps can be taken to ensure that more students meet/exceed learning standards and graduate?
We must first set standards for each grade level and for each subject. No student should move to the next level without first successfully having achieved and mastered that subject. If students have not achieved in a certain area, then we must provide either after-school or summer programs to address those deficiencies. Each child learns differently. We need to adapt our teaching methods to their learning methods and in this way, achieve the goals and standards we have set.
Superintendent Mark Denman is retiring in June 2015. What qualities should the next superintendent have, and what should his/her priorities be?
The Danville schools superintendent should have a vision which provides our students with the educational tools to compete against the world. This superintendent must not only have the vision but must be able to articulate it and implement such a program.
How can the district attract and retain top-notch staff?
We must first and foremost attract and retain the best teaching and administrative staff that we can afford. We must provide an environment conducive to learning. That includes building and grounds that are comfortable, well lit, quiet and equipped with current technology. Our administration and board must support our teachers so that our discipline is fair and consistent. We must listen to our parents, students and administrators so that we can put in policies that will best serve our community.
If a parent or community member came to you with a concern, what should your role be in resolving the issue?
I am always open to a parent or community member that has a concern about the district. If the concern deals with a policy that the district has adopted or should adopt, then I certainly want to bring it to the other board members' attention and have it discussed. If it deals with a specific incident or problem with a teacher or staff member, those I would direct to the proper channels.