Six candidates vie for four District 64 seats
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:09AM
Six candidates are vying for four open seats on the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 Board of Education this April. With the exception of one, all candidates are newcomers.
Background: Resident of Park Ridge for five years; senior vice president at Emdeon, a revenue and payment cycle management business; member of the District 64 Strategic Planning Committee.
Number of children in District 64: Three
Why he’s running: The experience (of serving on the Strategic Planning Committee) taught me a great deal about school governance and the importance of making sure our schools are setting challenging goals for each of our children.
School finance knowledge: I have a strong knowledge of private-sector finance and business management.
Biggest issue facing District 64: Curriculum, from new technological methods of learning to results-based teacher evaluations which are planned for implementation over the next couple years; infrastructure; and funding, (including) ensuring continuous financial transparency and challenging program effectiveness to be sure our children are getting the best education possible for the dollars being spent.
What the current school board could improve upon: There is an opportunity to bring additional ideas and perspectives that can improve communication with parents and the public at large.
B ackground: Resident of Park Ridge since 1999; former career in sales and management in telecommunications; current stay-at-home mom; member of the Carpenter School Parent-Teacher Organization.
Number of children in District 64: Two
Why she’s running: Last year, when I was vice president of the PTO at Carpenter, we were in the process of getting a fourth principal in five years and working towards getting air conditioning at the school. We were able to make so much progress financially and organizationally that I thought perhaps I could make more positive changes in the entire district.
School finance knowledge: I would need to learn more about the district finances to understand it better. However, I think the success we made at Carpenter by looking into each item on the balance sheet is a great place to start. If we look at each item and see how the district is spending the money, perhaps there are ways to consolidate or save.
Biggest issues facing District 64: To balance the needs of the future with the resources we have at our disposal. I know there are many needs within the schools and some are very expensive. I also know that teacher salaries and benefits take up most of the taxpayers’ money. Therefore, I would like to be involved to find some better solutions.
What the current school board could improve upon: I think there needs to be a better plan of what will be on the agenda and some type of detail to provide to the district. For example, moving the after-school program from Jefferson definitely could have been handled better and understanding the line items of the student fees. I think the area of teacher stipends also needs to be addressed. We need to understand how the program works, how the teachers are selected, the cost of these stipends and if there are ways to lower the expenses.
Background: Park Ridge native; licensed clinic psychologist and owner of Park Ridge Psychological Services.
Number of children in District 64: Three
Why he’s running: Since the economic downturn, I have noticed a growing contentiousness between taxpayers and the district. Some claim that voters who reject tax increases or question the criteria for teacher raises are “anti-teacher,” while others see the district as blindly pro-union with no regard for students or taxpayers. I would seek solutions that would not leave one major group feeling cheated. I believe a solid school board can create policies, working relationships, and contracts that are good for teachers, students and taxpayers
School finance knowledge: I have very little experience in school district finance, although I am fully aware of the need to fast-track my education in this sphere. As a business owner, I understand the basics, which require a healthy dose of common sense. Just as a person, family, or business cannot afford to spend more than they take in, a school district should not spend more than it can afford.
Biggest issues facing District 64: School safety and transparency in making financial decisions.
What the current school board could improve upon: I believe our school board needs to clarify its role in the education of our youth. While I believe that mental health services are well-meaning, I don’t believe that schools are an appropriate venue for screening for or treating psychological disorders. Also, it is critical that all extracurricular events, surveys, and learning opportunities be “opt-in” rather than “opt-out”. Because I believe that parents are the primary educators of our children, district policies must take every opportunity to secure parental approval.
Rick Van Roeyen
Background: High school special education teacher.
Number of children in District 64: Two
Why he’s running: My family and I are happy to have been involved with school activities, sporting events and camps that have been available in the Park Ridge community. I know I can be of help to my neighbors and the children of this district as a member of the school board.
School finance knowledge: As part of my educational preparation to sit for what was once called the Principal’s Exam I successfully completed graduate-level courses in school law and school finance.
Biggest issue facing District 64: Various legislative actions taken at the state level can have an impact on our ability to plan for the financial future of the district. Academically, creatively addressing common core standards and working toward improved coordination of ISAT preparation and achievement are issues to be addressed by the district, especially if these contribute to improved achievement on the high school PSAE and earlier recognition of post-secondary and career goals.
What the current school board could improve upon: I believe I would enjoy working with board members to enhance the learning experiences of students who attend District 64. I appreciate the contributions that board members have made to date and feel that I have a unique perspective on education that can be of value to the team moving forward.
Background: Resident of Park Ridge since 2011; vice president of finance at Cancer Treatment Centers of America corporate office.
Number of children in District 64: None
Why he’s running: While I saw an opportunity to run for an alderman seat in Park Ridge, the reality is that 70 percent of our property taxes go to school districts. I decided District 64 is the perfect opportunity to lead within our community, bound by the precious common interest that is our children’s education, and produce better transparency, accountability and value for our hard-earned money.
School finance knowledge: I’ll admit that I am new to this subject, though I have dedicated myself since the petition deadline to coming up the learning curve quickly. My MBA from the University of Chicago included three concentrations in analytic finance, finance and accounting.
Biggest issues facing District 64: Transparency and accountability. Not only should meetings be conducted openly as a matter of principle, any of the information used to make material decisions needs to be made available to the public in a reliable, timely and organized fashion, too. I also do not think parents around District 64 are getting clear accountability and commitments when they raise their issues to the board or administration.
What the current school board could improve upon: As a step toward greater transparency I would propose we develop a simple set of service standards for posting information to the public in advance of meetings. I would also like to see a public log created to track the issues brought forth by members of the community along with the person responsible for next steps and the targeted versus actual completion dates for those steps.
Background: Resident of Park Ridge for 10 years; chief information officer at CenterPoint properties and member of the company’s investment committee; appointed to the school board in 2009 and elected in 2011.
Number of children in District 64: Three as of next fall
Why he’s running: Simply a desire to serve our school children, ensure they receive the best education possible and to give back to my community. Also, as a homeowner and tax payer, I want to make certain that money is spent wisely and effectively on education.
School finance knowledge: Since being appointed to the Board of Education in 2009 I have spent a substantial amount of my time learning school district finance. … I would say that I am quite comfortable with the material and have a solid understanding of the topics.
Biggest issues facing District 64: Aging/neglected facilities; implementing new, 21st Century curriculum; and fiscal responsibility and transparency.
What the current school board could improve upon: I think we could do a better job of synthesizing varying perspectives into a clear set of directions that clearly articulate our wishes. By removing such ambiguity I believe the administration will be more efficient and effective.