.

D-15 Candidates Tackle Issues

Palatine sent questionnaires to the six candidates competing for three seats on the Community Consolidated School District 15 school board.

Six candidates are vying for three open seats on the Community Consolidated School District 15 board in the April 5 election. Palatine Patch asked each candidate to answer questions related to their candidacy.

Gerald Chapman

Biography:

  • 45 year resident of District 15
  • Former public school teacher and administrator who understands educational issues
  • Provided positive and fiscally-responsible leadership as 11-year superintendent in District 211
  • District 15, Board Member, 2007-present
  • Palatine Rural Fire Protection District, Trustee and Treasurer, 2004-present
  • Palatine Rural Fire Pension Board, Treasurer, 2004-present
  • Palatine Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors, 1990-2001, 2003-present
  • Bridge Youth and Family Services, Board Chair, 2002-2007
  • Roosevelt University, Community Advisory Board, 1996-2005
  • Palatine Township Cemetery Committee, 1996-present

Questions

1) What steps should District 15 take to balance its ?

It is the superintendent's responsibility to provide the school board with options and recommendations to reduce expenditures. That process is underway. Once those options and recommendations have been received and considered, then the school board will make final decisions.

It is important to me that the reductions which have long-term impact be given highest priority so that the district can maintain long-term financial stability.

2) Thirty percent of District 15 eighth-graders had what are considered to be low scores on the ACT-aligned EXPLORE high school entrance exam. How can District 15 better prepare students for high school and beyond?

I prefer to look at the positive results which show that these scores are continuing to improve, and they are higher than comparable districts.

Students who spend their entire elementary education in District 15 schools show excellent academic growth and do very well on tests and in high school. However, some transfer students enter our schools well behind in academic skill development, and those students' test results are generally lower than their classmates.

Students who are identified as behind grade level need additional instruction.  I support programs that provide after-school and summer tutoring.

3) What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing District 15?

The challenge is to provide the same high quality curriculum and instruction to all students in equitable, healthy, and safe schools with limited financial resources.

4) What would you do to improve communication and trust between the school board and the public?

Perhaps we need to be more agressive in communicating with the public. All regular school board meetings are open to the public and are later televised, so the public can observe the board in action. Recently, the district initiated a summary of board meetings that is available on the web site, so interested members of the public can easily access and review actions that have been taken by the school board. Also, the Navigate 15 initiative is a good vehicle for providing opportunities to share information about District 15 to stakeholders and to receive input on the issues facing the district.

5) The District 15 school board has been described as “dysfunctional.” What can be done to improve the way the board works together?

A well functioning school board begins with board members who understand their roles as members of a team. The Illinois Association of School Boards provides programs designed to assist board members to understand their roles and responsibilities, and District 15 school board members who have participated in these training sessions are positive contributors who abide by Robert's Rules of Order, demonstrate respect for other members and their opinions, and support the board's decisions.

Yes or No Questions

1) Did you support the November 2010 working cash bond referendum?

Partially. I would not support a $27 million bond sale, but I would have considered a lesser amount in order to make necessary repairs to our schools.

2) Do you believe the school board acted appropriately in filling former board member ? Yes

3) Do you support effort? Yes

4) Should teachers be allowed to strike? No [This is out of the control of the board of education; it is allowed under State legislation,]

 

Dave Seiffert

Biography: Palatine Resident 13 years, 6 years on The District 15 Educational Foundation(2009 and 2010 Chairperson),VP of Ways and Means on the Jane Addams PTA, Palatine Youth Baseball/Softball Sponsorship Committee. Married to my wife Beth 14 Years, 2 Children Grace 10 and Luke 8. Graduate of Deerfield High School Class of 1980, Graduate of Western Illinois University 1984-Bachelors Degree in Business Management.

Spent 24 years with Unilever Ice Cream Co.(Good Humor,Breyers, Ben and Jerry’s, Klondike, Popsicle), Presently working for Hudsonville Ice Cream out of Holland MI-Regional Sales Manager.

Questions

1) What steps should District 15 take to balance its ?

We need to look at all aspects of the budget and see what expenses can be saved.  We will attempt to talk to the Teachers Union about the current contract and see what the thoughts are for the future. Our administration needs to go through the budget items and bring back recommendations to the board as the where savings can be found. We will in turn talk with the Administration to make sure we are on the correct path and make sure they are looking at all avenues to help out on the budget. The board does not put together the budget, but we need to listen and work in conjunction with staff to make best decisions.

2) Thirty percent of District 15 eighth-graders had what are considered to be low scores on the ACT-aligned EXPLORE high school entrance exam. How can District 15 better prepare students for high school and beyond?

I would look in to more of the details of why the scores are coming in below expectations and work with staff and administration to focus in more on these tests to ensure test scores are up to where they should be. Again, the board is not in the education business, we need to listen to the staff and administration and make sure their recommendations are acted upon. Need to make sure we are on the correct curriculum for our students to prosper beyond District 15.

3) What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing District 15?

Our greatest challenge is to insure that we get the best, safest and most comprehensive education for the children under the tight fiscal guidelines that will be ahead of The District in the upcoming years. We need to find the savings and the best plan for the District going forward with recommendations from our administration and put the best plan forward. It is going to be a tough task and The Board will get great recommendations from Staff, but The Board also needs the community to step in and give their thoughts through the Navigate 15 process.

4) What would you do to improve communication and trust between the school board and the public?

We need to make sure we get the view from the public through activities like The Navigate 15 process. We have to work together as a community, make the public aware of decisions made by The Board, let the public speak and insure that we get back to the public with answers when they bring up questions and/or comments.  These may not be “on the spot” answers, they may require some research, but need to insure we get back to the public.

5) The District 15 school board has been described as “dysfunctional.” What can be done to improve the way the board works together?

There needs to be more open discussion about topics. When a vote has been taken and something passed we should work together as a Board to make sure the community sees us working together on these tough issues.  If there continues to be dissent the community will see that and not put their trust in The Board.  We need to work in consensus with each other, eliminate personal attacks and work on what is best for THE KIDS.

Yes or No Questions

1) Did you support the November 2010 working cash bond referendum? Yes

2) Do you believe the school board acted appropriately in filling former board member ? Yes

3) Do you support District 15’s effort? Yes

4)   Should teachers be allowed to strike? Yes

 

Scott Herr

Biography: My wife Yvonne and I have two daughters who currently attend Palatine High School and attended District 15 schools from K-8. We have lived in Palatine for over 20 years. I’ve held senior management positions at companies ranging from about 100 employees to almost 100,000 employees. At one company I was a member of the executive committee that was responsible for a division with annual sales of approximately $1 billion. Through this business experience I've developed skills including strategic planning, financial management and negotiations.

My education includes an MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Please visit www.ScottHerr.org for more information.

Questions

1) What steps should District 15 take to balance its ? I posted my proposal for balancing the budget at http://www.scottherr.org/2011-02/february-9-board-meeting/. The three key steps are:

1. Form a team to review all spending with input from teachers, staff and the community to identify any spending that doesn’t add value to the core mission, which is teachers educating students.

2. Prepare a capital projects recommendation that lists specific projects and expenditures over a 3-5 year horizon.

3. Start a dialog with the teachers union about the possibility of opening the current contract with the objective to resolve the current issue of salary increases that aren’t aligned with the District’s revenues.

2) Thirty percent of District 15 eighth-graders had what are considered to be low scores on the ACT-aligned EXPLORE high school entrance exam. How can District 15 better prepare students for high school and beyond?

Teaching is both an art and a science. It's important for the District and community to strongly support teachers in the "art of teaching" and the challenge they face in meeting each child's unique learning needs.   For the "science of teaching," Illinois is in the early stages of implementing "Common Core" and the District needs to work closely with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to implement these new standards. However, the District should strengthen the curriculum now and not wait for the new standards.

More information about the new Illinois Learning Standards can be found at http://www.isbe.state.il.us/common_core/

3) What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing District 15?

The greatest challenge is eliminating the growing deficit spending that, if not corrected now, would ultimately affect class sizes, property taxes and/or programs. This deficit spending started in the 2009-10 school year when the current Board negotiated contracts that increased instructional spending by $4.3 million (7.4%), just a few months after the 2008 inflation rate of 0.1% was announced. The Board and Administration will need to work as a team with the community and teachers to implement the deficit elimination plan I mentioned above.

4) What would you do to improve communication and trust between the school board and the public?

The Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) notes that a fundamental duty of the Board is to "engage in an ongoing two-way conversation with the entire community." The current Board has not taken this approach as illustrated by the bond issue that was defeated by a 2 to 1 margin in November. The Board didn't engage in a public dialog to explain why they wanted to issue $27 million in bonds.   Another obstacle is the limitation on public communications to a 5-minute one-way "Citizens Address the Board" agenda item. A new policy is needed that encourages dialog with the public.

5) The District 15 school board has been described as “dysfunctional.” What can be done to improve the way the board works together?

A question at a recent forum was whether it is more important for a school board to have "consensus" or for school board members to stand up for what they believe even if they disagree and may be called "contentious." Board members are independent representatives of the community and may have different judgments about community opinion. It is natural to have differences of opinion as decisions are made. What's most important is for different viewpoints be aired publicly, respectfully and productively. A successful board will be open to different opinions and listen carefully to arguments before coming to a decision.

Yes or No Questions

1) Did you support the November 2010 working cash bond referendum? No

2) Do you believe the school board acted appropriately in filling former board member ? No

3) Do you support District 15’s effort? Yes

4) Should teachers be allowed to strike? No

 

Jim Ekeberg

Biography: I have lived in the District since 1952. I owe some of the success I've achieved to my Disrict 15 education. My wife Kathy and I have four adult children. Everyone is a D15 graduate and Palatine High School graduate. I am a family physician and practice in Arlington Heights. I'm chair of the Family Medicine Department at Northwest Community Hospital and serve on the Medical Executive Committee.

  • Volunteer football team physician Palatine High School
  • Distinguished Graduate Palatine High School
  • Illinois Association of School of School Boards Master Board Member  
  • Illinois State Board of Education, Those Who Excel, award of Merit for volunteer work at Palatine H.S.
  • Elder Palatine Presbyterian Church

Questions

1) What steps should District 15 take to balance its ?

The administration has already begun the process of looking for spending cuts for 2011-12. The Board has  started the process, with the help of the administration, of asking the teachers union to consider reopening the existing contract.

2) Thirty percent of District 15 eighth-graders had what are considered to be low scores on the ACT-aligned EXPLORE high school entrance exam. How can District 15 better prepare students for high school and beyond?

If you look at the students that we have in the District from kindergarten through eighth grade, they score extremely well and better than surrounding districts. As students come to our district at various times in their education, we mustwork hard to improve their achievement.

3) What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing District 15?

I believe we need to develop a spirit of cooperation and respect on the school board. I am not suggesting that we have to all agree but when we make a decision we need to work together and move forward to improve the education of all our students. Different opinions in a harmonius relationship will make for a great school board. The community will recognize a highly functional board and have more confidence in their work.

4) What would you do to improve communication and trust between the school board and the public?

I believe the administration is hard at work developing a relationship with the community through the Navigate15 program.

5) The District 15 school board has been described as “dysfunctional.” What can be done to improve the way the board works together?

I have worked through the Illinois Association of School Boards to achieve Master Board Member status. There is a cost to the District for the course work because this is a volunteer position. I believe educated board members do not make the type of mistakes some of our board members have made that cost the District thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Yes or No Questions

1) Did you support the November 2010 working cash bond referendum? No to 27 million. Yes to 17 million.

2) Do you believe the school board acted appropriately in filling former board member ? Yes. (read out attorney's letter)

3) Do you support District 15’s effort? Yes

4) Should teachers be allowed to strike? No (but by state law the are permitted to strike)

 

Manjula V. Sriram

Biography: My husband Nathan and I have lived with our twin boys in Palatine since 2005.  I have an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering and Business and have completed 90% of my coursework in Masters in Business Administration with focus on Finance.  I am currently employed as a Program Director at Vail systems.   My corporate experiences in the area of project management, contract management, and fiscal management have prepared me to collaborate with the other board members to eliminate deficit spending and serve this community.

Questions

1) What steps should District 15 take to balance its ?

Approximately, 85% of District 15 budget is salaries, and only 15% is spent on other expenses. D15 should form a team with representation from every area including the administration, teachers, community and the board.   The team then needs to review the following areas carefully for expenditure reductions:

  • Pension disbursement: This amount has grown from approximately 1 million in the 70s to approximately 30 million in 2010. 
  • Review salaries and benefits (inclusive of administrators) that are disbursed by D15.
  • Review areas where smaller cuts can be made to add to this reduction.

Once all the areas are reviewed and expenses are cut, the district must put proper checks and balances to forecast income vs. expenditure for the upcoming years so we are not in the same boat again.

2) Thirty percent of District 15 eighth-graders had what are considered to be low scores on the ACT-aligned EXPLORE high school entrance exam. How can District 15 better prepare students for high school and beyond?

It is extremely sad that 30% of D15 8th graders have low scores on EXPLORE. I am sure many of these students scored very high scores on the MAP tests throughout their elementary school years. Sometimes, it’s the pressure of test taking that cause many students to not do well on the tests, at other times it is simply the unpreparedness.

We keep reinforcing to our students that they need to check their work, but never in our curriculum do we teach them how to find problems in their solutions, because once we make a mistake, it is not very easy to trace our path to find the problem and correct it. If the test scores are low because of unpreparedness, we as a district need to partner with the High Schools and implement a stronger curriculum that will help them prepare for future.

I am a firm believer that in addition to better scores the progress must also count.

  3) What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing District 15?

District 15 currently faces a major challenge in the form of Deficit Spending.  It is extremely important for us to eliminate deficit spending, while ensuring that the curriculum for our students is not compromised.

4) What would you do to improve communication and trust between the school board and the public?

One of my platforms is increasing the trust of the community in the board members who represent and are part of our community.  Trust is not a commodity, it’s a responsibility, and you can’t demand it but can certainly command it by your actions. The community so far has struggled to see transparency and openness from the board.  In order to improve the trust, if elected, I will take the larger decisions back to the community and understand what the community is seeking before enforcing a decision on them. To improve the communication, I will have several informal sessions to ensure that the community I represent understands the current workings of the school board minimize closed door sessions and have special meetings at a time that is more convenient for our community.

5) The District 15 school board has been described as “dysfunctional.” What can be done to improve the way the board works together?

Steven Covey states, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”.  Sometimes, being “dysfunctional” is at the root of inception of great idea.  I strongly believe that the board consists of seven individuals with seven opinions.  We have to change our mind set and control our egos to understand the seven opinions with an open mind and continue to have healthy discussions that make a small thought into a great idea.  Currently, this open dialog or explanation of decision is not seen. To make this “dysfunctional” board into collaborative partners and true community representatives, one must explain how they have individually arrived to a decision regardless of yay or nay vote on the motion, will help each of these board members have an open dialog and understand each other to work as a team.

Yes or No Questions

1) Did you support the November 2010 working cash bond referendum? No

2) Do you believe the school board acted appropriately in filling former board member ? No

3) Do you support District 15’s effort? Yes

4) Should teachers be allowed to strike? No

 

Gerard Iannuzzelli

Questions

1) What steps should District 15 take to balance its ?

1st step is to prioritize the capital expenses.  We need a board that can work together to define the needs and necessities rather then the wants. 2nd step would be to see what can be done about the expenditures for the current educational staff and administrators. There needs to be a fair agreement on what can be accepted. Beyond these steps I will reiterate that we need to have a board that can work together and define a plan to eliminate the deficit spending.

 
2) Thirty percent of District 15 eighth-graders had what are considered to be low scores on the ACT-aligned EXPLORE high school entrance exam. How can District 15 better prepare students for high school and beyond?

First I must say that we do have some great teachers in the district, however I feel that it is not only the teacher but the learning environment that hinders a student from their learning potential. I would like to see the district invest in programs that concentrate on the basics and gradually moves the student through without using the brute force. We also need to initiate programs that get the parents excited about being involved in the students educational experience.

3) What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing District 15?

I believe that we are on a downward spiral for finances and within the next few years we will be operating on a deficit spending plan. If we don’t do something drastically soon it will be very difficult to change the direction.
 
4) What would you do to improve communication and trust between the school board and the public?

I believe that having open and transparent meetings and documenting everything whether big or small is what makes the community become your partner.  I want the public to know that I am going to listen what they have to say and bring as much as I can to board meetings.  The more that is open the less that is presumed.
 
5) The District 15 school board has been described as “dysfunctional.” What can be done to improve the way the board works together?

We need to have more time to dialog with each other. Without discussion there is not any possible way that good decisions can be made.
 
Yes or No Questions

1) Did you support the November 2010 working cash bond referendum? NO

2) Do you believe the school board acted appropriately in filling former board member ? No

3) Do you support District 15’s effort? Yes

4) Should teachers be allowed to strike? When necessary

Vicki Wilson March 14, 2011 at 06:13 PM
Dr. Chapman and Dr. Ekeberg's ability to rewrite history (aka lying) never ceases to amaze me. The question was: Did you support the November 2010 working cash bond referendum? Of course they did. They both VOTED NO to Dr. Quinn's motion to only borrow the amount actually needed for capital improvements. They VOTED YES one year ago this month to borrowing the FULL $27 million WITHOUT VOTER INPUT AND WITHOUT A PLAN for how the money would be used. Dear voters, please visit spotlightontheboard.org for confirmation of the real facts and do not automatically believe what you hear during a campaign cycle. Actions speak much louder than words. VOTE 1-3-5 FOR HONESTY and REGAINING TRUST with the community.
Patricia March 14, 2011 at 06:56 PM
Thank you Patch for this information. I have been looking for it to make up my mind. Question: Is there any way for us to determine how "tight" these people are with the Unions and support for and by them.
Kathy O. March 14, 2011 at 07:14 PM
Vicki, I thought the same thing as I read these answers. For the two of them (Chapman and Ekeberg) to lie so blatantly shows me that they cannot be trusted and will say/do anything to get re-elected.
Vicki Wilson March 14, 2011 at 08:18 PM
4 years ago, Chapman and Ekeberg accepted thousands of dollars' worth of contributions from the unions. Vote 1-3-5 candidates Manjula Sriram (#1 on ballot), Scott Herr (#3), and Gerard Iannuzzelli (#5) respect the community and the teachers too much to accept money from any employee groups. They know it would be a major conflict of interest and would be a bad idea for EVERYONE in the community, including the teachers. They know the trust of the community would be lost immediately. They are independent thinkers and as parent of current D15 and D211 students, have a vested interest in the schools and are the clear choice for all stakeholders.
Louise March 14, 2011 at 10:05 PM
For the answer to Ms. Kulasik see http://district15schoolboard.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/chapman-and-ekeberg-forget-31000-union-contributions-in-2007/ Chapman, Ekeberg and Bokor were VERY HEAVILY supported all the employee unions in 2007.
Louise March 14, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Everyone, you can see it here. Chapman, Ekeberg, and Seiffert want more long term bonds without really addressing the immediate budget problems of deficit spending. Without addressing the deficit spending new bond money will be spent in a heart beat and taxpayers will be paying for 20 years. This is good for no one.
Taraxias March 15, 2011 at 02:18 AM
Had a chance to meet the 1-3-5 candidates this past weekend and I was pleasantly impressed by their backgrounds, honesty and enthusiasm. In the 16 years I've been in D-15 I can honestly say these have been the best candidates for D-15 school board. They've got my vote!
fixbone March 15, 2011 at 03:28 PM
I am disturbed by the attitude that teachers should not be allowed to strike - surely no one wants to see a situation progress to the point where any side would implement their last ditch measures (ie strike) but to have a stated position that they should not be allowed to is very disturbing - i ask then as a follow up to them (or anyone else) - What do they propose the teachers do then? Do we need union reforms - absolutely etc etc but again what should teachers do - simply accept management's last offer without using the leverage available to them? I am equally disturbed my the attitude that we should just throw my money at the system in the form of bonds without a serious and effective measures to decrease costs and expenditures -
fixbone March 15, 2011 at 03:33 PM
OK so.... I would rather evaluated them on their actions in office then the simple fact that they received political contributions - I presume you are against political contributions on all sides at all levels then - I agree!!!!! money in politics is corrupting and at the heart of many of our political problems
Scott March 15, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Mediation/arbitration would be the options that are available to both sides. Unfortunately the CTC is well known for taking the 'authorization to strike' vote very early in the processs - just to throw a scare into people.
fixbone March 15, 2011 at 04:34 PM
agreed - my point is that "a strike" should still be available to them - many of these candidates seem to feel that that should NOT be available to them
Kathy O. March 15, 2011 at 04:47 PM
I disagree that teachers should have the ability to strike. It is my understanding that this option is not open to other public union employees such as police officers and fire fighters. Children belong in school even if adults cannot come to an agreement on issues. It is not fair to strike for all the families where both mother and father work, nor is it fair or in the best interest of the the students. Mediation and arbitration should be the route taken.
fixbone March 15, 2011 at 07:08 PM
i would agree as long as mediation and arbitration is binding and impartial for both sides involved I find it interesting that we want teachers to behave/act in the best interests of our student (our kids) but we question whether they should be paid well for their services and at the same time we are willing to let big business avoid paying taxes, etc
Kathy O. March 15, 2011 at 08:07 PM
No one questions whether or not teachers should be compensated well for their services. However, there may be a difference of opinion as to what that means, that is were the mediation and arbitration comes in. Furthermore, no one thinks mediation and arbitration is anything but binding and impartial for both sides. Lastly, this is not an issue about big business, but about teachers striking because they are not happy with what is being offered.
fixbone March 15, 2011 at 08:13 PM
cool then mediation and arbitration should be the perfect answer that no one should object to
Scott March 15, 2011 at 08:22 PM
Just for fun let's count the days from when the talks begin to get serious to the day the CTC takes the 'authorization to strike' vote. (We know the union won't seriously begin talking until we approach the start of the school year; the summer talks are all for show since they have no leverage during the summer).

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something