GEL ELECTION PROFILE: Glen Ellyn School District 41 Board - Questions and Responses 16 - 20

Question 16: Do you have an opinion as to the optimal configuration for our District:
- local K-5, 6-8 at Hadley
- local K-6, 7-8 at Hadley
- local K-5, 5-6, 7-8 at Hadley

Terra Costa Howard: I will support the recommendations of the master facilities work.

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Drew Ellis: Personally, I experienced the local K-6, 7-8 at Hadley option and I am biased. I feel that we should embrace the neighborhood schools that this community desires and not move towards grouping grades into larger more crowded schools. The addition of 6th graders into Hadley Jr. High has made that school potentially overcrowded and with the constriction of having small parcels of land for our schools we should look at the feasibility of moving 6th graders back into the elementary schools while bringing with that, a challenging curriculum which the 5th and 6th graders can benefit from. From an economic standpoint, if expansion to all elementary schools is necessary, the cost of such a move may make the move back to a local K-6, 7-8 at Hadley option more costly and harder to implement as a change from the current configuration of local K-5, 6-8 at Hadley. The answer to the optimal configuration for our District lies in both the current facilities limitations and the pending study of the Master Facilities Planning Task Force whose facilities options, suggestions and insights should be carefully reviewed in implementing a best solution to the facilities question along with the optimal configuration.

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Jack Kahler: This is a common topic in the committees where I’ve served. I haven’t seen any problems with 5th or 6th graders mixing with younger kids, but I would expect many more problems if we housed 7th and 8th graders with 5th graders. My personal opinion is that K-6 elementary and 7-8 middle school is probably best, but I think the current K-5 elementary/6-8 middle school configuration is working pretty well and seems to have staff support.

For many reasons, I’m opposed to the K-4, 5-6, 7-8 grade level center configuration that was proposed as part of the referendum a few years ago.

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Question 17: What are your thoughts in aligning 5th grade curriculum to 6th grade, and 8th grade to 9th grade so that students are better prepared for major transition?

Terra Costa Howard: Hadley New Horizons will allow our students more opportunities to prepare for their futures.

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Drew Ellis: As stated above, if we move the 6th graders back into their neighborhood schools as the community so embraces, we can eliminate the more difficult transition of 5th to 6th, develop a program preparing the students though both years, possibly grouping 5th and 6th graders within those schools bringing in a more challenging curriculum, and concentrate on the 7th and 8th grade transition into High School.

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Jack Kahler: The K-8 curriculum is all D41, so it should be integrated to eliminate any major cademic transition between the primary schools and Hadley.

On aligning Hadley with Glenbard West, recent placement tests show Hadley’s 8th graders are “ahead” in some areas, like foreign languages, and “behind” in others, like math. At a bare minimum, our 8th grade performance must meet D87 placement standards across all subjects. In the short term, we must focus our curriculum on bringing performance up to the 9th grade baseline in subjects where we are lagging, while still maintaining the superior results we are getting elsewhere. Once we achieve parity with the D87 standard, we can consider raising the targets so our 8th graders place at advanced levels for core subjects like literacy, math and science.

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Question 18: What are your thoughts on using the gym at schools instead of Park District?

Terra Costa Howard: The school district and park district work together to meet the needs of our community. The park district is a community partner and has contributed to the cost of building our gyms. The school district and park district are in constant communication to work together so both groups’ needs are met.
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Drew Ellis: I am not sure I completely understand the question. If you are asking if I feel that the schools should make their gyms available for public use than I would say that as long as this can be done safely and it does not financially burden the District than I would support it. Perhaps this action could build positive and collaborative relationships between the District, the community and the Park District.

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Jack Kahler: If I understand this question correctly, I think the Park District should be allowed to use D41 school gymnasiums. Since the Park District has different boundaries than D41, some nominal usage fees or tax abatement for D41 residents would probably be appropriate. I believe a sensible facilities-sharing plan between the park district and D41 would benefit both organizations.
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Dan Smith: I am not familiar with the issue here.

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Question 19: What is your position on “balloon levying?” (i.e. a methodology whereby taxing bodies request more money than they require to operate, in order to maximize their tax revenue)

Terra Costa Howard: The district does not balloon levy.

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Drew Ellis: I feel that this is all too common in government and in today’s economic climate we should start lower in our levels of government by truly tightening our belts to ease any additional taxing burden to our taxpayers. This District should continue paying particular attention to being open and transparent to our community in order to work towards its Mission of “partnering with the community on behalf of our children” and continue to build bridges of trust among the community, the Districts friends and neighbors.

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Jack Kahler: While I oppose balloon levying in principle, doing away with it might cost D41 some matching state and/or federal funds. As other BOE members have noted in the past, the real problem is that the District's financial budgeting and revenue collection process is upside-down compared to the private sector. As a result, the District collects tax money and then figures out how to spend it.

I strongly support zero-based budgets and tax rebates if they don't jeopardize our non-discretionary obligations.

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Dan Smith: I am a proponent of zero-based budgeting, therefore, the amount of money required and the justification should be known before asking for it.

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Question 20: What is your philosophy about abatement of revenue surpluses?

Terra Costa Howard: The CPI at .1 does not provide an opportunity for the district to abate dollars at this time. The school board is in the process of developing board policy that addresses the issue of cash reserve limits.

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Drew Ellis: I feel that if we carefully review and accurately portray projections, that this would be unnecessary. If however if the projections were off and there were a surplus, we should strive to abate those dollars back to the community as our Village and other surrounding communities often do.

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Jack Kahler: I support abatement of surplus funds.

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Dan Smith: I certainly would be interested in looking at this with regards to regaining community trust, especially after the 2001 referendum. Unfortunately, in our current economy, I do not see any surpluses in the reasonable future. I hope I am wrong.

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