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.
Johnnie L. Carey, 59, Danville
Political experience: None.
Occupation: Retired D118 principal, human resources director, student services director, guidance counselor and teacher.
Family: Husband, David, and adult daughter.
Other: Past board member of the United Way of Danville, Illinois Principals Association, Black Awareness Organization, First National Bank scholarship selection committee, YWCA program committee, D118 alternative education advisory and diversity committees, Golden Apple selection committee and Second Baptist Church leadership team; Leadership Danville graduate; and Alpha Kappa Alpha member.
Why are you running for school board, and what will you bring?
I feel that this is an opportunity to serve my community and give back to a district that gave me so much. I bring to the table a wealth of knowledge in the field of education. I have served the district in numerous positions. I have served on state evaluation committees for several other school districts thus giving me a vast understanding of the workings of a school district. I have studied the policies and procedures that are regulated by the state and federal government. I feel all this experience will enable me to be an asset to the board in moving the district forward.
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?
I think the district must continue to look for measures in which it can be financially sound. We must look for ways to maintain a balanced budget not affecting the quality of education being provided to the children. No one wants to pay more taxes, and I know that at some point that question will have to be addressed. I would hope we could find other alternatives to raising taxes. I would never say what I would do or not do without all the facts.
What steps can be taken to ensure that more students meet/exceed learning standards and graduate?
The district has continued to evaluate ways to help students to achieve in the academic area. There are many changes that will be put into place regarding testing. The procedure to determine whether a child meets or exceeds will be changed as well as the areas being tested will also change. I feel that the different programs being implemented will continue to help our students progress to academic success. The high school graduate rate will continue to increase as students are better prepared at the lower grade level. There have also been other alternative programs put in place to help students that have not been successful in the traditional school setting. These types of opportunities have served our students well and will continue to produce academic success.
Superintendent Mark Denman is retiring in June 2015. What qualities should the next superintendent have, and what should his/her priorities be?
What we would be looking for would be a visionary, a person who has great leadership skills and one who can think outside of the box. With the challenges that this community faces in the future, to educate our children, the new superintendent will not come into an arena of business as usual.
How can the district attract and retain top-notch staff?
While Danville has always had great teachers and staff, it will be a challenge in the years ahead to be competitive. Danville must continue to provide opportunities for teachers and staff to develop skills within the district. The district must work with area universities to provide opportunities for the non-certified staff to secure certification. It must continue the "grow your own" type of programs.
If a parent or community member came to you with a concern, what should your role be in resolving the issue?
My first question would be have they contacted the school, principal or superintendent? If that had been done, I would ask for more specific information. My job as a board member is a simple fact finder, then to get the concerned parties together with appropriate school officials for a speedy solution for the better good of all involved.