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. More information about the candidates and their responses to all six questions are available at http://www.news-gazette.com.
Greg Hilleary, 53, Danville
Political experience: Danville school board member, 1997-present.
Occupation: Danville Housing Authority executive director
Family: Wife, Mary Ann, and one son.
Other: Member of the Danville Public School Foundation board, Vermilion County Workforce Investment board, East Central Illinois Community Action Head Start policy council, Provena United Samaritans Medical Center/HALO Let's Move Initiative advisory council, Danville Area Community College adult literacy advisory board; Danville Jaycees life member; and St. James United Methodist Church member, among other things.
Why are you running for school board, and what will you bring?
As it was when I first ran in 1997, I want to make an impact for our children. They are our future, and we have a responsibility to provide the best educational environment for them so they may succeed in life and become life-long learners. I bring years of management experience as well as the financial background necessary to provide oversight to our district.
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?
Based on the current environment within the federal level and especially our state, the question of raising local taxes could be inevitable. We may be forced to pay additional dollars to the state for retirement benefits for the staff, and we continue to receive unfunded mandates. Raising local taxes would obviously not be our first option, but with our district's overall funding at nearly 50 percent tied to the state, it is a possibility. We need to continue to review all of the district's expenditures and make the appropriate reductions.
What steps can be taken to ensure that more students meet/exceed learning standards and graduate?
I believe the greatest step that can be taken to ensure that more students meet and exceed the learning standards and graduate is additional parental involvement. Parents have the opportunity and added time to establish and nurture a will to learn within their children and challenge them to be successful. We need to continue to maintain our facilities in order to create the safest and best educational environment for the students learning opportunities. We need to make sure our teachers and staff have the necessary tools and continued educational training to make the greatest impact on the students.
Superintendent Mark Denman is retiring in June 2015. What qualities should the next superintendent have, and what should his/her priorities be?
The superintendent is not only the educational leader for our district but they need to have a complete understanding of school finances. As the educational leader, they set the tone for instructional leadership throughout the district. As we move forward through these difficult financial times, one of the highest priorities for the superintendent will be to maintain financial stability for the district.
How can the district attract and retain top-notch staff?
The district must continue to recruit new educational leaders from our universities. I believe it is also very important to continue to "grow our own" with our current students who wish to become educators. Our students who come back to us as teachers bring a special trait with them: They believe in our district. We must continue to provide competitive salaries for our teachers and administrators.
If a parent or community member came to you with a concern, what should your role be in resolving the issue?
You need to listen to the comments or concerns and redirect them to the appropriate staff member for assistance. This could be the teacher, principal or other administrator. If this is truly a board issue, then apprise the superintendent and the other board members.