Software Engineer, IBM
Not available, Mary
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
My wife (Mary) and I have lived in District 46 for 23 years. We have three children and have been active volunteers with Prairie Grove School for the past 14 years. We have a 19 year old daughter that enjoyed Prairie Grove very much. We also have a 6th and 7th grader currently attending. We have also organized yearly community events during the past 15 years for the Oakwood Hills Village. I am actively involved with coaching youth sports. The past four years with girls’ softball for CYB and before that youth football with the Jr. Wolves and Cary Trojans. I have a broad range of experience in Corporate Technology. During the past 33 years I have pioneered web technology, designed digital solution and worked with corporate litigation. I believe a team that has diverse members and even some conflict will ultimately provide our community with a balanced school board. That is why I am running for office with three other residents; Laura Barker, John Bowman and Margaret Ponga. The four of us have experience and confidence and we will make a difference.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
Employee Morale – What use to be a top ranked energetic school has segregated to teachers vs Administration. Not to mention the lack of Community involvement. We need to get back to Prairie Grove School as a whole. A single productive entity serving our children’s best interests. Community involvement – All community committees were eliminated and replaced with a monthly Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting, which is just another board meeting. The COW platform pushed the taxpayers away from the school. Without community committees there are no checks and balances; the board discusses issues at the COW meetings and then makes recommendations to themselves at their regular meetings. As a public body, we must reinstate community committees and work toward complete transparency. Finances – Property taxes must decrease but not just for the next year, as planned by the current board. Annually increased expenses can’t outpace the annual increase in revenue. If it does, it’ll result in a spiral affect which would cause the spending down of reserves and ultimately a tax referendum. Our unions have already proven they’re on board with keeping our district financially secure.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
I would support freezing the taxing levy but freezing it at the individual property level is what needs to happen. Freezing at the taxing district’s level is freezing the whole, not each property’s levy. Today, when a person is granted a reduction in their taxes, that reduction amount is spread across the rest of the taxing district and the result is the taxing district’s revenue stream remains the same. Those that fight for a reduction pay less and those that don’t fight pay exponentially more so the overall revenue remains the same. The solution is individualized frozen levies so those that fight will reduce their own levy and those that don’t fight continue to pay at their own frozen levy level. The result would be a true freeze and a true reduction in revenue for the taxing district. Our administrators have contracts that don’t allow a reduction in salary. If they reach contract term, they’ll receive a bonus. There may be a time when a decrease in salary is very appropriate. This is another reason why community committees are so important – a finance committee would have challenged these current practices.
What one decision by the school board do you most disagree with and why?
The school board’s decision to dissolve all of the community committees and implement their Committee of the Whole (COW) meetings has had a negative trickle affect on our district and community. The government created the COW process so that an entire board could have a venue to meet with an entire committee to discuss that committee’s charter, not to eliminate committees from existence. We must re-engage the community! We need a finance committee, curriculum committee, policy committee, building/grounds committee, parent/community advisory committee, discipline committee, etc. As a board member, we need others to provide input and have committees with various levels of expertise to work together to discuss topics and address issues. It’s always better to have many resources and levels of experience when discussing issues. I believe if the community was involved at the school, especially a finance committee, they would have offered the diverse experience and perspectives our school board could have used to alleviate many months of contract negotiations with the teachers’ union. The school board spent $47,462 in attorney fees to negotiate the teachers’ contract, not to mention lost productivity for teachers and administrators, and administrative expenses.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
The biggest accomplishment of the school board over the last year was the start up of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Program. Over 10 years ago, the district transitioned from half day kindergarten to full day to enhance that level of education for our children. Due to the reduction in enrollment over recent years, the district was able to accommodate the ECE program with classroom space, teacher/assistants, and a fenced in area with playground equipment for recess, as well. The addition of the ECE program will further enhance the level of educational programs offered by our district. Introducing young students to Prairie Grove as early as 3 years old is a great start.
Why should voters elect you to office?
My wife and I have been involved in the school and the community for decades. It is a great feeling to see how you effect so many. We think every one should volunteer. I’m excited about the possibility of being a school board member. I believe a team of business orientated taxpayers with strong family values, diverse backgrounds, and some opposing views will ultimately provide a balanced board. That is why I am running with three other residents; Laura Barker, a single mom with two girls at PG school, working in the insurance industry; John Bowman, a senior citizen, retired businessman and retiree of PG school; and Margaret Ponga a mom with years of dedicated work at our school and works in the public safety communications industry. We’re the stewards of the taxpayers’ money, and the children, and we need to balance both. We will continually strive to improve education because this is our children’s future. Education will continually change and we need to keep pace with those changes and align our practices and finances, as well. Please contact us at VoteBarker3Bowman4Ponga5Salvo6@yahoo.com
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