1. What prompted you to run for another term on the board?
"I decided to run for a second term quite literally because there is work left undone. I would like to see the construction projects from the 2016 referendum finished or near completion over the next four years. I'm also committed to our equity work as it pertains to closing the achievement and discipline gaps, particularly with our minority and underserved populations."
2. What makes you most qualified to serve on the board?
"For the past four years, I have not only served as a board member but also as the board's president. During that time, we have accomplished many things.
"After bringing the community together in the form of a Tier 2 committee to build consensus, the board proposed and passed a $183.4 million referendum in November of 2016 that passed by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. We've successfully negotiated five contracts with our staff. We've hired a superintendent, and we navigated a charter school proposal, among many other accomplishments.
"I also bring to the board additional knowledge in construction and real estate, being both a licensed plumber and a Realtor in the state of Illinois. Since October 2015, I have served on the board of directors for United Way of Champaign County. I'm a member of the Central Illinois Business magazine's Forty Under 40 (class of 2016), and in 2017 I won a Those Who Excel Merit award from the Illinois State Board of Education."
3. What, to you, is the school district's single-greatest strength?
"I believe Unit 4's single greatest strength is its people. From staff and students to members of the community, the people of Champaign Community Unit 4 School District are what make it so special. We have amazingly talented and gifted individuals at every single level of this organization."
4. What issue would you like to see get more attention than it has from the board or district?
"I personally would like to see more attention directed towards dyslexia. As a parent of two daughters with dyslexia, I have seen the benefits of direct intervention with both of my children.
"However, I feel dyslexia often goes undiagnosed, and many of our students could benefit from not only screening but also targeted supports."
5. How big a concern is the size of classrooms, particularly at the lower levels, in Unit 4?
"I think this is a 'growing' issue. Champaign-Urbana-Savoy is currently benefiting on many levels from being a growing community; with those benefits come the challenges of educating that growing community. I think finding the balance between space, staffing and student needs is crucial when moving forward as we address classroom size.
"I am both hopeful and interested in the data and outcomes from the classroom sizes negotiated with CFT at the kindergarten level."
6. How do you feel about armed, uniformed police officers in the schools?
"Our three middle schools and two high schools all have a uniformed police officer assigned to them via our intergovernmental agreement with the city of Champaign in the form of student resource officers. For me, that's the extent that I would like to see uniformed police officers used in our schools.
"These officers work closely with staff and students to build relationships and provide additional services. Having these officers present, while not necessarily ideal in some eyes, provides an additional layer of service and safety for our schools."
7. What are your ideas for how to keep district spending in check?
"Continued fiscal responsibility and transparency. One of the things the board of education did before beginning the Tier 2 process was to create policy establishing a target fund reserve of 15-20 percent (of annual expenses) in case of things like pension shifts or budget shortcomings from the state.
"As we begin to revamp the district's website and how we access information, creating a special dashboard for our check register similar to what has recently been created at the city and county level would be beneficial and helpful for all. While our financial records are available, accessing them is not always easy or apparent."
8. Would the district benefit from a charter school that serves low-income students, like the one (North Champaign Academy) proposed a year ago?
"I voted yes to deny the application for the North Champaign Academy charter school. While my vote to deny the proposal was based largely on its lack of legally required elements, I personally have a hard time believing any charter school that siphons resources from the district, when we are not fully funded from a state level, is advantageous for our students."Furthermore, a charter school that operates with very little oversight from the community it serves concerns me greatly."
9. What would be in your plan to recruit and retain high-quality teaching staff?
"I think continued partnerships with local universities and colleges are important. Continued monitoring and lobbying at a legislative level is vital to continue our efforts to recruit and retain high-quality teachers. Working to foster an environment in which teachers feel respected and welcome is also important."
10. Do you believe there is too much money being spent on administrators?
"I do not. While I have frequently faced this accusation, particularly during this past year, to this date no one has provided a list or even a single example of positions or roles they feel are not needed by our district. I stand by all the decisions that I have been part of over the past four years.
"When we could have done things in a different manner, we often have corrected and revised how we do things when met with constructive criticism. We welcome questions about the purpose of any administrative position in the district."