The News-Gazette posed questions about school district finance, communication, school facilities and more to the five candidates running for three four-year Champaign school board terms.
Below, you'll find their answers, as well as more information about them.
Incumbents Stig Lanesskog and Ileana Saveley are running for two available two-year school board terms. Because they are running unopposed for those seats, they were not included in the questionnaire.
Name: Scott MacAdam
Address: 1015 Hadley Drive, C
Occupation: Managing Director - Equities, Busey Wealth Management
Political Experience: Urbana Plan Commission, Champaign School Board, 2007-11
Why are you running for school board?
Having served previously, I understand the importance of serving on the board. The education of our youth should be one of our society's highest priorities. While I know firsthand that the commitment to serve on the board is substantial, the rewards are truly great. The satisfaction of working with my fellow board members in tandem with the district's dedicated teaching staff and administration to deliver a high-quality education to the next generation is second to none. My wife and I have been fortunate to have three children graduate from our schools with rewarding educational experiences, leveraging their knowledge and skills to land successful careers post college. We currently also have a son who is enjoying his freshman year at Central High School.
State and federal funding for school districts is a constant uncertainty. How should the school district deal with these financial challenges?
The challenges in this regard are enormous as there are so many unknowns going forward due to the poor financial condition of the state of Illinois. I have spent my entire 37-year career as a banker and financial analyst working with clients and their financial affairs, designing creative solutions which enable them to manage their assets efficiently in order to achieve their long term goals. I hope to utilize these same talents to develop strategies so that we, as the board, can be sound financial stewards of the funds entrusted to us, while at the same time keeping the education of our students at the highest level possible. Working cooperatively with the business community and our elected officials will no doubt be of added importance in the future.
The Champaign school district is in the middle of a campaign to create a plan for what to do with its aging buildings, including Central High School. In your opinion, how should the school district prioritize these projects?
I believe the current board is off to a solid start, one that invites community involvement as well as input from administration and staff. I also believe that the involvement of a professional consultant to help lead the initial phases of the project was a sound idea. The combination of all these varied interests should provide for a good foundation for the board to decide where we go next with respect to specific sites and time frames for our aging facilities. I am proud of the success we had while I served on the board previously; we formulated a plan to refurbish and rebuild our elementary schools. I look forward to duplicating these efforts with both our middle and high schools.
Superintendent Judy Wiegand has emphasized that she wants the board to be transparent and a good communicator. How would you, as a school board member, connect with the community you represent?
As stated earlier, I have had the good fortune to have lived and worked in Champaign for many years. This length of time has given me the opportunity to come in contact routinely with many people from all walks of life. I have served on many not-for-profit boards and endowments and other service organizations and have a vast network of business contacts. When I served on the school board previously, I had the opportunity to address with the public many of the issues that the board, district and community faced during my tenure (consent decree, bond referendum, facilities upgrades). I know that during these years my fellow board members and I went to great lengths to encourage transparency; I also know Dr. Wiegand has consistently supported these same policies. I truly enjoy public speaking and would never turn down an invitation to address an audience on any topic, whether it be investments or school district issues.
Name one other issue that's important to you, and describe how you'd resolve it.
I am a firm believer that our district's teachers are our greatest assets. Similar to the business world, employees that are appreciated and highly motivated tend to raise an organization's level of success to new heights. Conversely, employees that are poorly treated, not valued and unmotivated bring forward an environment that breeds negativity. This is not the sort of environment in which our children should be educated. If elected, I would like to see the board work closely with the administration to guarantee that we have the absolute best teachers available for our students, and that they have the resources they need to teach successfully and continue to feel valued and appreciated. I don't believe anything is currently awry; I just want to make sure we always keep improving in this regard.