Bachelor's Degree, Political Science , University of Illinois Chicago
Insurance Broker , Neis Insurance
Samantha , 11
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
My experience both in the school district and as Vice President of a local business makes me ready to meet the challenges that face District 26. I recently served on the District’s Steering Committee. This group, made up of different stakeholders in the community, helped establish new goals, values, vision and mission statements for the district. These were recently adopted by the current school board and is where I found my voice. I have also for the last year served on the District Community Engagement Panel. As Vice President of a local business, I am well aware of the challenges for running a business in a volatile economy; uncertain revenue, rising health care costs, payroll and having to solve challenging problems quickly.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
1. Providing an a sound educational foundation. Every board member’s duty should be to ensure we are cultivating a productive and safe learning environment for students. In 2006, my wife and I moved into District 26 specifically for the school district; and I believe, if we continue the current momentum moving forward, we will return this district to a prominent position in the county. 2.Promoting fiscal responsibility. The students and their educations must always be our number one goal. That being said, I think we owe it to the taxpayers of Cary to make sure it’s being done as effectively and efficiently as possible. As Vice President of a local business, I have had to make tough decisions in regards to budgets, staff and allocating proper resources. It may be difficult, but it has to be done. 3. Championing special subjects and improved communication. We must keep increasing the number of special subjects like art, music and P.E. that are reintroduced into school curriculum. I would also work to improve the communication and transparency between the board, teacher and the parents.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
As a taxpayer and somebody who works locally, I would love to say yes to this answer but at this time, it’s simply not prudent. Like all school districts, we have to implement new common core standards mandated by the state along with our own unique infrastructure needs. The district must also navigate the financial disaster that is the State of Illinois. We have seen our general state aid fall from $5 million in 2008 to just $1 million last year in conjunction with the district having to plan for the eventual pension shift. The good news is the district has put together a comprehensive 5 year financial plan and if followed, hopefully in the future a freeze might be possible.
What one decision by the school board do you most disagree with and why?
I have come to know a lot of the current board members and they are good people - I think they should get a round of applause and a thank you. They are volunteers doing at most times a thankless job, but serving a critical role in the community. They made the best decisions they could while at the same time getting the district’s finances in order. I have no large disagreement with the current board decisions but I would like to see one aspect of the board change and that is a big part of why I am running. They don’t always communicate effectively. If my time on the Steering Committee has taught me anything, it is that over the last 2 to 3 years I think the board should have had more functions where we brought the different stakeholders of the community together. It really took away the stigma that I often feel in the district of the teachers/parents vs. the parents/board/administration and brought us together to focus on the main priority - the student. You can have a great plan but if you can’t communicate it to others then it’s just pages in a binder.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
It was recently announced District 26 will be bringing back teachers for music, art and physical education classes. Not only will this make for better students but give teachers back their much needed planning time. It also cannot be overlooked that this was accomplished under a balanced budget.
Why should voters elect you to office?
I am a person that believes actions speak louder than words and I have a track record that proves this. It started at 18 when I joined the Armed Forces and it continues today when I volunteer in our community or work on the school district’s strategic plan. As a local business leader, I know what it means to make tough decisions regarding a budget, employees and how to communicate and negotiate effectively. The district has come a long way from 2010 but we still face real challenges ahead and need leaders of action. I will make sure that we continue to work under a balanced budget while doing everything within the districts means to give all students a chance to reach their full potential and return the district to excellence.
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