Bachelor's Degree, Engineering - Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Master's Degree, Business Administration - Marketing and Operations, Illinois Institute of Technology
Master's Degree, Science - Telecommunications, DePaul University
Operations Manager, Nokia Siemens Networks (formerly Motorola)
Married, Laurie Jenner
Lee Jenner, 25
Luke Jenner, 23
Mel Jenner, 20
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
I’m in my eighth year of service on the Cary D-26 school board. I have consistently focused on top notch education for our students, and fiscal responsibility for our taxpayers. I’ve been on the Policy Committee all eight years, and have been committee chair for six years. I’ve authored many “good governance” policies that have kept D-26 from being in the news for outrageous or incompetent spending, or other scandals that some districts have gone through. I’ve completed the Illinois Attorney General’s Open Meetings Act training. Additionally, I have over 25 years of customer service and business experience, and training in quality techniques such as Digital Six Sigma. I’ve been personally responsible for budgets as large as $12 million.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
(1) Ensure we retain as much local control as possible as we migrate to the Common Core Standards, and ensure we have the ability to strengthen those standards where needed for D-26. I first ran for school board out of a concern for academic rigor. In my first term I pushed for adoption of Learning Expectations (also referred to as Power Standards), which allowed D-26 to strengthen Illinois State Learning Standards in areas where they were weak. (2) Ensure continued fiscal responsibility as we reduce class sizes and restore specials. D-26’s recent string of balanced budgets and its improved financial rating are great signs. We must stay vigilant and ensure management of our finances continues to improve. While the outlook for the next few years is favorable, we need to manage several unknown factors (e.g. potential pension shifts, questionable state aid level) to ensure we don’t return to financial dire straits. I want to see D-26 hold its share of the property tax bill flat, or ideally reduce it, by retiring existing bonds without incurring new debt. (3) Increased legislative advocacy, and partnering with other districts on legislative advocacy, to remove adult-oriented mandates, and put children’s education first.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
YES! At several meetings prior to voting on our latest levy, I asked that we make it something less than the maximum. I voted against it because the administration proposed the maximum. The existing tax rates are already high, and the economy is still in the tank. Taxpayers are tapped. With the recent 67% state income tax hike, state revenues are at record highs, yet the state continues to be delinquent on its bills and cuts funding to agencies and schools. There is more than enough public money available to adequately fund education. It’s a matter of getting the money to the right place. The first step needs to be meaningful pension reform. The problem is not that the state, i.e. the taxpayers, aren’t paying their fare share. The problem is that since 1970, politicians over promised far more “sweeteners” than the pension systems could afford or sustain.
What one decision by the school board do you most disagree with and why?
Were this to apply to any D-26 board I’ve served with, the answer would be the deficit budgets and unaffordable contracts approved by the 2005-2008 board. For the current board, my answer is the decisions regarding the 2011 bond sale that was approved despite my objections to the size, purpose and transaction costs of the sale. Services to issue the bonds should have gone out for bid. More importantly, $2.6 million of bonds were sold above the amount that was immediately needed by the district, against my objections, for the sole purpose of returning that $2.6 million to the taxpayers in subsequent years at the discretion of the district. The reason for this extra bond revenue was to enable the district to temporarily mask the pain of the tax hike from the taxpayers. That $2.6 million never should have been taken to begin with. My willingness to challenge the consensus of the administrators and my fellow board members on this bond sale is evidence that I have been and will continue to be a vigilant advocate of taxpayers’ interest and of efficient and proper district spending.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
Completing the 2011 – 2014 contract with the Cary Education Association. The new contract is a radical change from the previous several contracts, which were the leading cause of D-26’s financial disaster. Negotiations were long and agonizing for both sides. The District asked the CEA to accept some contract terms I suspect they found quite difficult. I give the D-26 teachers a lot of credit for realizing accepting those terms was necessary to put us on a road to financial recovery, and for agreeing to the contract without any talk of a strike.
Why should voters elect you to office?
They know what they are getting. I have a documented eight year track record of consistently voting against irresponsible spending and incurring more debt, and focusing on policy and academic achievement. My votes are aligned with my words, which is not often seen on many local governing boards.
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