Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Forest Park Review sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
Profession: Management Consultant
Years in Proviso: 8
Are you a Proviso graduate? No
Do you have children who have, are or will be attending Proviso Township high schools? What are their ages? No
Why are you running for this office?
Schools play a crucial role in the life and health of a community, and Proviso’s schools have been woefully underperforming for decades. This affects every aspect of community life in Proviso, from safety to property values to economic vitality. More importantly, if we fail to provide our young people with the opportunity for a genuine, quality education, we condemn them to social and economic marginalization for the rest of their lives. This violates the spirit of democracy and deprives those children of the ability to achieve the American Dream. This is grossly unfair to those children and to the community in which they live. When we ignore a generation’s future, we risk the life of the entire community. I have the ability and the drive to change the trajectory of Proviso’s schools, and I believe it is my obligation as a citizen to use that ability to reclaim our schools.
Have you ever run for or served in a local political office before? If so, when and which office?
I am an incumbent Board of Education member, having first been elected in 2009. I have not held any other elected offices. During my tenure on the Proviso Board I have accomplished the following:
- As Chair of the Finance Committee, I worked with the State appointed Financial Oversight Panel (FOP) and with the District’s finance staff to help produce balanced budgets and annual operating surpluses in each of the last two years.
- Successfully lobbied in Springfield to renew the FOP’s charter for another three year term and upgrade their status to a more powerful category, giving them greater ability to stop questionable practices within the District.
- Created the first anti-nepotism policy in District history to help curb some of the patronage hiring practices that have become so common in the District over the past 20 years
- Represented the Board in negotiations with the two major unions to help contain soaring costs and eliminate rigid work rules, resulting in over $1 Million in annual operating savings.
Despite these changes, Proviso high schools still rank among the worst in the State on the PSAE standardized test. In the next term we need to develop solutions to the long standing problems with student achievement. We need to consolidate and protect the advances we’ve made in stabilizing the District’s finances. And we must address the nepotism and corruption that have plagued Proviso for decades.
Are there individuals or groups which actively encouraged your interest in running for the D209 board?
Although I have the support of a number of people throughout Proviso including several elected officials, I am running my own campaign, raising my own money, and determining my own political platform independent of any other political organization.
What do you consider to be the greatest strengths of Proviso Township High School District 209?
Our greatest asset is the Math & Science Academy (PMSA), which continues to perform well and produce well educated graduates who are fully equipped to compete in the modern world.
What are your strongest concerns about the district at this time?
Other than PMSA, the district continues to suffer from embarrassingly low standardized test scores, low teacher morale, a culture of low expectations for both students and teachers, and most worryingly, an upsurge in gang activity and security concerns at both East and West.
How many District 209 school board meetings have you attended in the past two years?
All of them.