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.
David Woodrow, 36, Danville.
Political experience: None.
Occupation: Restaurant manager/theatrical director for Beef House, Inc.
Family: Wife, Jennifer.
Other: From Page to Stage director, 2011 — present; Community Service Hero for Vermilion County 2012; Manteno High School's Friend of Music, 2012; North Ridge Middle School's Golden Ruler Award, 2007; Past board member of Arts in the Park and Danville Light Opera; Directed and produced over 100 area events.
Why are you running for school board, and what will you bring?
I am running for the school board to bring the unique perspective of someone who is active in the middle schools and high school on a regular basis. I hear the voice of the students, parents and teachers as I collaborate with them on a wide range of projects. I see first-hand what is working and what needs to be addressed. The job of a middle school or high school student is far more difficult than most adults realize. I want to represent the voice of these hardworking students. They often have the best solutions to the problems facing the education system.
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?
The district must look at the big ticket items and find ways to be economical without sacrificing the quality of education. Every line item in the budget must be evaluated. I believe the tax levy should have been increased this year. If elected, I will support an increase at the next opportunity.
What steps can be taken to ensure that more students meet/exceed learning standards and graduate?
Students need to be engaged in learning and feel part of the school community from Day 1. Teachers must strive to maximize instructional time in the most efficient and attractive ways. Principals must foster a sense of community within their buildings including staff, students and parents. Each component needs to feel they are valued in their building. At the district level, D118 needs to improve communication with the community, including highlighting what great things are happening. Everyone does a better job when they know they matter. This will translate to learning at Danville High School. The problem doesn't start when students enter into high school. The problems will be lessened when all staff, students and parents are engaged before they enter high school.
Superintendent Mark Denman is retiring in June 2015. What qualities should the next superintendent have, and what should his/her priorities be?
The next superintendent should be able to lead the instruction of the district at all schools, maintaining and expanding the current curriculum to meet the needs of the ever changing student population. He or she will also need to be skilled in district finances and problem solving. He or she must be able to select directors and principals who will hold their staffs accountable. He or she must recognize that instruction does not end with four core subjects at 3:30 p.m. He or she should strive for and reward excellence and not promote or accept mediocrity.
How can the district attract and retain top-notch staff?
Teachers want to be a part of a vibrant learning community. Student successes in all areas must be publicized. D118 is in an enviable position of having at least six major universities from which to draw student teachers. Pairing them with fantastic educators in D118 and letting them feel their first waves of success as young educators might make them want to stay in the district.
The salary schedule for beginning teachers must be addressed. D118 has essentially had a wage freeze for teachers since 2008. Other districts in our area have increased those beginning salaries and are now attracting young teachers that might have chosen D118 in the past.
If a parent or community member came to you with a concern, what should your role be in resolving the issue?
I would listen to their concerns and evaluate my role. I think board members can be very valuable facilitators between the community and the school. I would convey the concern to the appropriate person within the district and ask to be kept apprised of the resolution.