GEL ELECTION PROFILE: Glen Ellyn School District 87 Questions 1-5

Question 1: What motivated you to seek a seat on the District 87 Board of Education?

Luke Baer: I am a write in candidate. I was motivated to run by the fact that only two candidates registered for the four open positions. The function of the Board is too important to allow it to become a victim of apathy.

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Donald Birns: When I learned that there were only two candidates for 4 positions, I felt it was important to give the voters the opportunity to decide who they wanted representing them verses a reduced board selecting representation for them. Thus I decided to be a write in candidate.

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Yadav Nathwani: I am a product of the system. I attended Glenbard South High School, graduating in 2001. My education experiences part of the Glenbard system has driven me to grow on additional academic endeavors. Resulting in a Bachelors Degree followed up with an MBA both at Benedictine University. My experience at the school helped foster my appreciation for education at all levels. In addition to this, I have volunteered at six local High Schools thru Junior Achievement. I enjoyed the satisfaction of working with High School students. Also, because of my employment at Community Bank Wheaton/Glen Ellyn I furthered my desire for volunteerism through the education system. As a result of being involved with various programs I felt the next step to my progression in volunteerism is to apply my financial background to help maintain the level of academic excellence and balance the financial constraints facing the district.

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Don Pydo: Deep concerns about the viability of school funding that will be impacted by declining economic indicators—and in turn, how that uncertainty will affect quality program for D87 students—has been the prime motivating factor in my decision to seek a seat on the board.

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John Snyder: I am interested in the success of D87 for any number of reasons. Quality schools are needed to prepare our children for a successful future. This is our responsibility as parents and members of the D87 community. Effective use of taxpayer dollars and balanced budgets are also necessary for success as no school can educate children over the long run without the support of taxpayers. And, quality schools are known to be a top reason people buy homes in a particular school district. This supports property values and brings customers to town merchants.

For the last 2 years I have served as a Board appointed member of the D87 Finance Committee. This has allowed me to better understand school finances and programs and to become acquainted with D87 Administrators and the Board. When only 2 candidates signed up to run for 4 open seats I was surprised. I had not planned to run for the Board.

However, I felt that the 2 years I had spent on the D87 Finance Committee, together with my background in finance, accounting and management, had given me knowledge and insights that would prove valuable to the D87 community. So I decided to participate in the election process.

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F. Thomas Voltaggio: I am motivated to continue my service on the Board because I believe that I have the knowledge, board experience, and desire to be a positive contributor to this important position.

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Question 2: How do you view the role of a school board member?

Luke Baer: Other than hiring the superintendent, the main role of the Board is to establish the long term strategic goals and in conjunction with the administration and teachers the appropriate objective measurements to monitor progress towards meeting those goals. It is up to the administration and the teachers to determine how best to achieve those goals within the district as a whole and within each high school.

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Donald Birns: The Board has various duties, but I feel that the important ones are:
a. Formulating, adopting and modifying District policies to continue its vision of the long term strategic goals.
b. As necessary, employing the superintendent.
c. Approval of the annual budget, and other monetary matters.
d. Oversight of student requirements.

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Yadav Nathwani: The School Board member should be the connection to both the public and administration. Also, a School Board member should act as a leader and if possible mentor the ambitions of the current class.

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Don Pydo: School board members should provide solid leadership, counsel and direction to those charged with the administration of our schools.

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John Snyder:
~The Board’s responsibility is to set direction and policy and to hire and manage the Superintendent of Schools.
~A Board member is only 1 of 7 and must work to create teamwork and to build consensus.
~Board members need to always remain “close to the customer” - to what is going on in its local communities and to the views of taxpayers, parents, school employees and students.
~The Board must also be alert what is going on in the Park Districts, Towns and Villages in within its boundaries and

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F. Thomas Voltaggio: A school board member is elected to provide policy and management oversight for the district.

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Question 3: What’s been your prior involvement in District 87 activities?

Luke Baer: Primarily the involvement of a role of a vested parent. Laura and I are parents to two children who graduated from Glenbard South, who went on to complete undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign and then on to graduate studies in law and architecture respectively and two more daughters, one a sophomore in Glenbard South and another who will be a member of the class of 2014.

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Donald Birns: I have not had prior involvement directly with the District board; however I have been a parent of District 87 students for the last 10 years and will continue as one for the next 4 years. I have been active in various activities at Glenbard South. In particular the last two years I have assisted with the EKG screening done for over 1,000 students.

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Yadav Nathwani: I was a student of Glenbard South High School, Class of 2001. I have volunteered to speak at numerous business classes. Also, I spearheaded an internship program between by bank and District 87.

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Don Pydo: To date, most of my D87 experience has fallen within the realm of parental involvement during the years that my two sons participated in various school-related activities at Glenbard West.

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John Snyder: For the last 2 years, I have served as a Board appointed member of the D87 Finance Committee. I have no voting role or responsibility. In this role, I have offered ideas to the Committee and to the Board about how to best keep the community informed on key issues and about the various ways in which the Board can clearly and completely communicate its intent to the public. I have offered financial observations on budget matters and forward planning. I have worked to assist various groups to understand how the Board works and how to successfully approach the Board to express opinions. I have chosen to remain neutral on many issues so as to be best positioned to serve all stakeholders.

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F. Thomas Voltaggio: My prior involvement with District 87 activities dates back to my days as a student, and has continued over the past twenty-one years where I have been involved as a community member, parent, and Board Member.

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Question 4: What steps would you take as a school board member to improve the Dist 87 Board image in the community?

Luke Baer: First I compliment the Board for their past efforts and work. As a board member I would make every effort to bring visibility to the issues the board is facing, through the local papers, and in key issues build a broad based consensus by seeking public comment.

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Donald Birns: I feel that an effective board is one that is transparent to the community. By this I mean that they operate in the background and that they give the administration the tools necessary to effectively operate to the needs of the community.

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Yadav Nathwani: Encourage the public to share its concern to the School Board in a open format. It would be beneficial to include multiple voices, not just the pro district and district dissidents.

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Don Pydo: Two words – accountability and transparency. I firmly believe that there is no more substantive area in which D87 can improve its image in the community.

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John Snyder: First, of the many public governmental bodies in our area, my experience has been that D87 has a good reputation over its entire service area. The current Board has eliminated a $ 24 million deficit gaining a 3.9 out of 4.0 score from the Illinois State Board of Education putting the District in the highest level of financial strength – Financial Recognition. The District will end the 2008-2009 school year with a surplus. And, the 7th period has been added back.

There are, however, areas in which the Board needs to improve its image.

Two areas come to mind:

1)There is a prevailing opinion in some areas that resources are not often equitably allocated among all schools and that Administration attention is at times uneven. This is a critical issue that must be addressed by the next Board.

2)There is also a perception among some that the Board and the Administration do not coordinate well with some Town, Village and Park District planning efforts. While, the Board has recently and wisely teamed with the Carol Stream Park District to share the cost of turf at North stadium and leverage community resources, more such planning and co-operation should be a priority in the future to improve education and community services while holding taxes down.

In this regard, below is an editorial I submitted to the Glen Ellyn Sun on this topic which was published Thursday

March 14th:
March 9, 2009
TO: GE Village Board

The Village of Glen Ellyn is currently in the midst of formulating a Plan to redevelop the downtown Glen Ellyn area.

"The Glen and Main Street" seems to be the current plan. On the Village of Glen Ellyn website, the documents show a "greenway" that runs eastward from the Prairie Path at Main Street and
Crescent Blvd and then winds down Crescent Blvd. along the north side of the railroad tracks, between Biester Gym and Glenbard West High School and down the hill toward Lake Ellyn.

At the same time, Glenbard School District 87 has authorized a plan to turf Memorial Field which is located on the south side of Crescent Blvd in front of the high school. The Memorial Field turf is designed to overcome a significant shortage of athletic fields for sports and gym classes at Glenbard West High School.

Memorial Field is adjacent to a section of the proposed Greenway Path that ties downtown Glen Ellyn to Lake Ellyn.

It seems to me that District 87 and the Village should work jointly to enhance both Plans and benefit the community by tying the Memorial Field design and the Village Plan design together to extend the development zone and the Greenway Path. For example, maybe the same pathway materials, lamp posts and railings scoped in the Village Plan could be extended onto Memorial Field. Maybe, a branch of the Greenway Path could wrap around the back of Memorial Field to provide an added walking loop similar to the path design at the Morton Arboretum. Landscaping could be coordinated so that buffers, topography, specimen trees (dogwoods and redbuds) could be placed on Memorial Field just like exists today around Lake Ellyn.

Joint planning between District 87 and the Village on these projects would yield benefits for all residents and merchants and would better leverage investments in all community facilities.

Respectfully submitted,
John Snyder
Glen Ellyn, Il.

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F. Thomas Voltaggio: I would continue to operate in an open environment, which encourages and facilitates appropriate input to the decision making process.

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Question 5: What are the 3-5 top issues you’d want to address as a Dist 87 board member?

Luke Baer:
a.maintaining excellence in education with dwindling resources;
b.balancing the budget, this will be particularly difficult in the next two years; and
c.assuring that District 87 meets the needs of all students, including those not college bound and those with special needs.

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Donald Birns:
1) Funding during tough economic times is a definite challenge facing the board over the next several years.
2) With different size schools and different demographics for each, it is a challenge to insure that the needs of all students are met whether they are college bound or not.
3) To maintain the existing physical plants of the district to the standards they are accustom.

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Yadav Nathwani:
a. Create an environment of participation and communication in district issues.
b. Be an ambassador between stakeholders and the district mission of providing the best academic exposure to all students.
c. Maintaining and improving the existing curriculum mindful of the districts mission of providing the best academic exposure to all students
d. Assure that all district funds are used to maximize the stakeholders investment in the school system.

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Don Pydo: As has been demonstrated by the D87 board over the past four years in managing its way out of a serious deficit position, fiscal responsibility and quality education are not incompatible goals. I would strive to maintain a balanced budget at D87 without raising taxes, and continue the recent strengthening of Glenbard’s quality academic program through sound fiscal management of resources. Finally, I would endeavor to find new ways to communicate with stakeholders—parents and non-parents alike—ensuring that they are involved in the process. I believe that there is room for improvement in that arena, and should be prioritized as such.

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John Snyder: The most pressing issue facing D87 is to maintain and continuously improve programs at the four Glenbard high schools while tightly controlling costs and maintaining a balanced budget in a deteriorating local economic environment.

1. Ensure that D87 maintains a balanced budget – a budget with no year end
deficit.
The deteriorating economy will put a squeeze on D87 revenues for the 2009-2010 school year and quite possibly for the 2010-2011 school year. This is occurring in an environment of high statewide unemployment and declining property values.
The D87 Board must manage this economic situation judiciously with an equitable mix of spending constraints and close management of academic and extracurricular programs.

2. While maintaining a balanced budget, ensure that the District’s excellent academic and extracurricular offerings, teaching methods, facilities and technologies to enable D87 to remain competitive with other top west suburban high schools.
~Support graduation requirement increase from 21 to 23 credits
~Keep the 7th period
~Maintain and continue to develop honors curriculums and continuously improve upon NCLB results - it is about all the students.
~Support work on behavioral intervention processes (BIPS), as well as academic intervention, to train students in proper school day behaviors in attendance and classroom decorum. Programs such as Plasco Track have proven very successful in promoting timely attendance at Glenbard East.
~Continued co-operation between D87 and its feeder middle schools to more broadly prepare middle school students for a successful entry into high school.

3. Fully explore greater cooperation between Park Districts, Towns/Villages and community groups to best leverage investment in all community facilities.

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F. Thomas Voltaggio:
a.Maintaining the financial integrity of District 87 in the face of the economic challenges surrounding all of us
b.School improvement/curriculum development in line with programs already underway, including compliance with No Child Left Behind
c.Attracting top flight leadership and teaching talent to Glenbard in light of significant retirements in 2009-2010

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Return to District 87 Overview Page

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