Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey the Forest Park Review sent out to all D91 board of education candidates running in this year’s elections. Candidates full, unedited responses are printed.
Don’t miss your chance to hear candidates debate the issues.
The Forest Park Review and the Chamber of Commerce will host a D91 school board candidate forum at 6:30 p.m. on March 6 at Forest Park Middle School, 925 Beloit Ave.
Previous elected experience: None
Previous community experience: Forest Park Kiwanis; Park District of Forest Park – No Glove Softball Tournament volunteer and Trunk-n-Treat participant
Occupation: President of Line Craft, Inc. – Automotive Parts Manufacture
Education: BS Mechanical Engineering Sinclair College / BA Project Management Ashford University
1) How would you describe the communication style of Forest Park District 91 schools? What is the district currently doing and what more, if anything, do you believe D91 should be doing to communicate with residents and taxpayers? What should be the board’s role in engaging residents?
Base on the communication within FPSD91 this has been an area of concern within the community which causes confusion or lacking in details. I feel that the district is trying to come off with some creative ways to get out and engage with the community but get back to the core of the issues where the information is not getting out to the masses. FPSD91 is are making attempts to use social media and partnering with the newspaper and the Reviews website and links to the Forest Park School District website. I feel that the FPSD91 Board should begin will attacking the communication issue within the district first. The board job is creating new ways to help the staff and teacher communicate the message of the board. FPSD91 board needs to raise the level of communication, and I have a few suggestions that may help if elected to the board.
2) What role do parents play in D91?
I feel that parents need to have a very active role within FPSD91. Currently, we have three different groups of parents within the district. First is a group that is a very active, second is relatively active, and the third group is not active at all. As a board member, we need to find a better way to get the group that is not active and get them more engaged with the students learning. When a parent becomes more involved with the learning the process, it will have a positive result with an increase in the learning experience for the student. As a board member, we must find better ways to help the teachers and staff get parents more engaged with the learning process.
3) Can you describe District 91’s relationship to Proviso Township High Schools District 209? What more, if anything, should D91 be doing to align itself to D209?
I don’t have a lot of information regarding this, which ties back into some of the issues that FPSD91 has with getting the correct message communicated within the community. I feel that we may be very weak in this area and that more could be done to help bridge the GAP between the middle school with the transition into High School. If FPSD91 has a healthy relationship, we need to get back communicating the correct message.
4) D91 students’ standardized (PARCC) test scores have increased slightly over the past few years, but students continue to struggle with math in particular. What is the district currently doing to address this issue and what more, if anything, do you believe D91 should be doing? What do you think about PARCC scores and academic performance at D91?
Based on the data I have seen, I am not convinced that we have selected the right curriculum to addresses these lower scores. The plan in place to address the lower testing scores will require more data across all levels of testing. Once you understand the data, then will you be able to create and establish a plan to help increase testing in Math and other areas. I feel that we are continually shifting our plans to address the decrease score rather than allowing for a curriculum to develop more and understand its effectiveness. We need to partner more with D209 and build on the synergy at D209 to help close or testing score gaps.
5) Over the past year, the D91 board has approved several measures to address a racial and economic achievement gap at the schools. How, if at all, would you engage with and continue this work?
I support the work that is currently being done to address these issues. I would help out in any way that I could to ensure that we don’t lose the moment on addressing these issues within D91. The FPSD91 could do more and work with the Diversity Committee and have more cross programs to engage a broader audience of students/parents within D91.
6) Enrollment at D91 was the lowest its been in at least six years at the start of this school year. Are you concerned about this? What is the district currently doing to attract students and what more, if anything, should the district be doing to retain and attract families?
When this topic comes up regarding that enrollment is low, it brings me back to a great movie Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come.” I know that we are not playing baseball, but this it is true just like as in the movie where all the great players within baseball came back to play the game. We need to start building and creating the All-Stars within FPSD91. We need to get back the foundation and rebuild from there. I want to see all our schools be a beacon, so people want to move into Forest Park and send their kids to our schools. Being a village of predominantly rental properties, the schools, just like all the other amenities, need to draw people to move here and stay here.
7) What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
I have been promoting the ABC’s in the school district. A for accountability, the Board, teachers, Superintendent and all those who educate our children must be accountable for their actions or lack thereof actions when it comes to our children. B for the betterment of the test scores and betterment of drawing families to move to Forest Park to educate their children. C for communication, there is a massive disconnect between the community and the schools, unless you have a child in the schools, many residents do not know what is going one in the school. Also, there is a disconnect between the Superintendent/School Board, what occurs at that level does not get communicated to the school level and the parents. To find out what is going on in the school board you need to “dig for” and seek the information, the websites, though for each school and the overall D91 give conflicting information, this should never be and needs improvement.