The article below was featured in the upcoming issue of the South County News.
The upcoming school board election is probably one of the most important school board elections in the last 10-15 years. There’s a multi-million dollar school being built in Gillespie that not only affects the parents and children of CUSD 7, but every taxpayer withing the district. Illinois’ financial disaster continues to get worse, threatening educational funding. Governor Quinn hints at possible school consolidations. And on top of all of that, this race is one of the most contested races in recent history. So if there was ever a time to go to the polls and vote, this would be it.
We at the BenGil Post have 2 simple question for voters. Are you happy with the decisions and direction CUSD 7 has made in the last several years under the current board? If not, are you willing to give the incumbents a second chance?
Too simplistic? Maybe. But as Albert Einstein said “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
1. What background or experience do you have that qualifies you to serve as a school board member?
I am the only candidate that is currently enrolled as a student in Gillespie High School. On a daily basis I experience what occurs in the school and how the administration functions. I am the only candidate that currently experiences the quality of education received from the teachers at Gillespie High School. I have a long term vested interest in serving on my community’s school board to improve the quality of education and the environment it is received in for the younger generation to come. Additionally, I have been attending school board meetings since my freshman year to try to stay abreast of the happenings within the school district. I can bring a student’s perspective to Gillespie’s Board of Education.
Thirty-two years of teaching experience has given me a deeper understanding of the education process as it has evolved in CUSD#7. During my tenure, I survived the many changes in state mandates which have in turn driven reforms in curriculum, instructional strategies, and forms of assessment. Education reforms, combined with an ever-changing social climate, have created the need for numerous committees to address the new goals and standards educators face. Serving on a number of these committees including those of School Improvement, Curriculum, and Discipline, I assisted in the development of curriculum maps, in the alignment of the curriculum with state goals, and in the revision of the student handbook. I believe all of this experience will enable me to work more effectively with teachers and administrators in continuing efforts to improve school climate, student discipline, student attendance, and the curriculum, all of which are directly connected to student achievement.
In addition to my work in the school setting, I have also gained valuable experience through my involvement in various community organizations. These include PTO, the All-Weather Track Committee, the Business Recruitment and Retention Committee, the Advisory Board for Build Benld, and St. Joseph’s Altar and Rosary Society. Obviously, the willingness to be a team player is a necessary characteristic for any committee member. The art of compromise is another skill that can often mean the difference between any group’s success or failure. Also, by helping organize and work various fundraisers, one quickly learns that money is hard for an organization to earn but easy for its members to spend. My civic involvement has taught me to always consider not only the financial possibilities but also the financial limitations of any project. This insight should prove helpful in some of the decisions I will have to make if elected to the board.
I have 41 years of experience in public school education. I was a high school business teacher for ten years, a high school guidance counselor for 18 years, a high school principal for 7 years, and a superintendent of schools for 6 years. I believe that I can add some depth to the board because of my extensive background in the field of education.
I was an educator for 7 years in our school district. I taught vocational classes, coached high school athletics (girls soccer) and was president of the teachers’ union. I have administrative, engineering and construction experience as I have worked for the Illinois Department of Transportation for the past 11 years. I am currently serving on the Board of Education as vice-president. I have children who are students in our district and am actively involved in all their academic and extra-curricular activities.
My experience that qualifies me to serve as a school board member is my past experience as a school board member, my experience as a business owner, my management experience and my degree in business administration.
In order to make all decisions a school board is faced with, it is very important to have a board that is comprised of leaders with various back grounds.
I am a computer software developer, analyst and consultant with more than 20 years of professional experience. I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics and a master’s degree in computer engineering. My wife Nancy and I have four children all of whom currently attend Gillespie CUSD #7 schools. For obvious reasons, I am very interested in making the public educational experience as successful as it can possibly be.
I believe all board members need to possess business skills and a willingness to consider the opinions of others. Groups of individuals are capable of producing amazingly successful results whenever they work together toward a common goal. Success is dependent upon members of the team having the foresight to understand that their view may not always be the best or only solution. One of the reasons I have been successful in my profession is due to my ability to solve difficult problems while working as a member of a solution team. I have frequently been required to negotiate various alternatives
to accomplish the desired result. I will work to bring cohesion between board members, district personnel and community members. It is imperative that we effectively communicate in all areas in order to establish and maintain trust and common goals.
In summary, I am running for school board in hopes of representing families who want the best possible education and overall school experience for their children. I am willing to devote the time necessary to address parent, student, teacher, and community concerns. Schools have a tremendous influence on all children, and we are doing our students a disservice whenever personal objectives interfere with their best interest. I believe my past experiences and personal character can benefit the school board, and, if elected, I will offer a fresh perspective and bring a broad spectrum of experience from the business community.
I am a member of the United Methodist Church in Gillespie. I have served as the Chair of the Trustee, the Chair of the Pastor Parish Committee and I am currently the Chair of the Administrative Board. In all of these positions I have had to face tough decisions including budgets, financial and economic concerns. My experience on these Boards has given me the ability to voice my opinion but also to listen and understand other peoples’ opinions, especially in emotion times. It has also required me to listen to and represent the people of the church to the community.
I am also a business owner. My wife and I own an architectural and Interior design firm. We understand first hand the effect of the economy on our community. As a business owner I have to review and understand the impact of every decision made. Being an Architect will also give me and the board additional insight into the construction of the new school.
Finally, I have a vested interest in the success of our school district and our school board. I currently have a 1st and 5th grader attending Gillespie’s School and I am interested in making sure when they graduate they have as many options available to them as possible.
I feel I have knowledge and experience in specific areas that will make me an asset to the Gillespie school board. Some areas include the knowledge and experience it takes to be an effective educator, a good parent, and a necessary financial overseer. I have 17 years experience teaching high school Mathematics in the Ball – Chatham school district in Chatham, Illinois. From a teacher’s perspective, I feel I have useful knowledge about the internal dynamics of the school and what it takes to make it successful. It is difficult to understand why certain aspects are necessary for educational purposes unless you are an educator. I have also been the union treasurer in our district for the last several years and have gained much knowledge about negotiations, communication, and relationships between the teachers union and the school district. In addition I have 2 children that have attended the Gillespie school district from Kindergarten to their present grades in middle school. I also attended the Gillespie school district for my entire primary and secondary education. As a parent, I understand the importance of our participation in our child’s education, the support of our teachers and staff, and good communication between each family and the districts educators. We as a community cannot effectively educate our children without the support from all groups. And thirdly, I have years of experience and gained unlimited knowledge that have helped me make important financial decisions as a financial overseer and ultimately run an efficient household, an effective union, and a productive business.
I am a lifelong resident of CUSD#7. I have been married to my wife, Mary, for over 30 years. Together we have two sons, Nathan (2005 GHS graduate, 2009 UIS graduate) and Jonathan, a senior at GHS. I have served on the CUSD #7 Board of Education for 10 years. I hold an Associate Degree in Agriculture Production from Lewis & Clark Community College and served for 2 years on their Agriculture Advisory Board. I have also completed several hours of course work from the University of Illinois. I am serving my 10th year as a director for the Macoupin County Soil and Water Conservation District. I am serving my 5th for the Macoupin County Public Housing Authority.
For the past 34 years, I have owned and operated a family farm north of Gillespie. As a small business owner, I deal with many of the financial, purchasing, building, and equipment repair issues that the school district encounters.
As parents, my wife and I have always stressed the importance and value of education to our children. We have and continue to volunteer in several school and community organizations. Mary, an educator with over 30 years experience, is a great resource to me. As a board member, I strive to be as informed as possible on topics to make the right decisions for our students, district, and community. These efforts have led me into the depths of a coal mine to see grouting first hand, attended many board meetings with state officials to secure funding for the new grade school, as well as into other schools classrooms to study the feasibility of all day kindergarten.
I am a board member who is committed to providing the best education possible for our children while be fiscally responsible to our taxpayers. During my tenure on the board, the High School gym and the Middle School were renovated. Through generous community donations, a new athletic facility was constructed. In 2 years, we will open a state of the art Grade School. We have endured mine subsidence, a tornado, and severe funding deficiencies from the state. Through all of this we have maintained a balanced budget and after constructing the new elementary school will still have the 2nd lowest tax rate in the county. I look forward to spending the next two years improving the education of the students.
My background as a recent valedictorian of Gillespie High School and current student attending Saint Louis University as a pre-med major undoubtedly qualifies me as a school board member who understands the need to increase academic performance in our school district. I greatly appreciate the education I received at CUSD#7. It got me into a major four year university and I am doing well; however, I do believe we are not challenging our students as effectively as other school districts. My concern is evident in our standardized test scores as well as in my personal experience in competing for grades with students from other high schools. As a board member, I will push for increased academic standards because I am concerned that we are not meeting our full academic potential. Again, I fully appreciate everything CUSD#7 has done for me. I will bring a fresh perspective to the issues CUSD#7 is facing.
I attended the Gillespie District 7 schools and graduated from Gillespie High School in 1982. I have lived in the district most of my life and have worked for Garella Pest Services for 27 years. My wife, Diane, is the Office Manager of Staunton Clinic. My son, Daniel, is a 6th grader in the Gillespie Middle School. I have a niece, Jenna Clark, who is now in kindergarten, and a nephew, Mitchell Clark, who also will be attending school in the district. I am director of the Youth Football Program and am involved as coach or assistant in several other youth sports programs. Most importantly, I am a taxpayer and a concerned parent, who wants the best possible education for all students of the Gillespie School District. I sincerely wish to offer my help in providing a quality education for these students.
2. What is your vision for education and extra-curricular activities in this community?
My vision of education on the elementary, middle, and high school levels is to expand the science and math departments and to install a more challenging curriculum. On the high school level, I would like to see every student in both a math and science class all four years of their high school career. Additionally, I would like to see a weighted grade point system be re-established in the high school to create a competitive environment for one valedictorian and one salutatorian. Last but not least, I would like to see the vocational classes that were cut in the previous year be restored to benefit all students at Gillespie High School. Officials need to realize the importance of math, science, and vocational classes.
My vision for education in this community can be summarized as follows: provide all students with an education that will prepare them for college, career, and life. One component that must be in place for this vision to be a reality is that of a strong curriculum that is balanced, grounded in the “real world,” and continually reviewed and improved upon. It would stand to reason that No Child Left Behind and state-wide mandates have in many ways forced the creation of such a curriculum. However, my own experience has taught me that teachers and administrators must be careful not to quickly dismiss needs that would improve that curriculum and in so doing better serve the needs of our children. If for example, the teachers feel that another instructor is needed at a grade level or in a certain department, they should take the time to state their case in writing to their building principal and strongly support their request. Teachers and administrators should be fearless when making reasonable and important requests of this nature. Of course, they won’t always get what they ask for because sometimes the money just isn’t there. But if finances are available and the request can be justified, said request should be given every consideration. If we can afford to reduce class size from 30 students to 25, then shouldn’t we? If we can afford to reinstate a program such as that of Family and Consumer Sciences, then shouldn’t we? Existing programs, curricula, class size, and staff should be continually evaluated. Those evaluations should be given serious consideration so that our district can more successfully meet the needs of its students.
School is, however, about more than just classrooms and student assessments. Part of any child’s education takes place outside the structured classroom setting. That is why part of my vision for our school district is to try to make sure that our students always have a choice of extra-curricular activities. I believe that CUSD #7 has always offered a variety of activities which should appeal to a variety of student interests. Because a child doesn’t partake doesn’t mean there is nothing to choose from. Although these activities include more than just athletics, all too often sports are the first to come under attack. People are quick to make the statement that if cuts are to be made, they should be made in the area of athletics. While I myself was certainly no athlete, I can attest to just how important sports can be to children, to a school, and to a community in general. These programs can offer the opportunity for a student who is not the “star” in a classroom to shine more brightly on a field, a track, or a court. More importantly are the many teachable moments that come through
participation in sports. My son recently told me that he is grateful to every coach who ever yelled at him because it taught him how to withstand that type of explosive criticism which he has at times been subjected to in the workplace. Of all the extra-curricular activities, none seems to bring a school and a community together more than sports.
I think that the students in our district should be able to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities. The number of activities, however, must not put undue strain on the finances or the facilities available. My vision for the district is to keep it financially solvent while offering as many programs as possible. I am a firm believer in developing a strong curriculum that will challenge our students while preparing them for the future.
My vision is for the highest academic achievement for each individual child as well as providing opportunities for each student to participate in a variety of extra-curricular activities. I believe we should strive to prepare each child to achieve the highest level of education, whatever that level may be for that child, and to prepare each student with good citizenship skills.
My vision for education and extra-curricular activities in this community is to assure that all children, college bound and non-college bound, are getting the best education possible and are able to make a choice of their perferred extra-curricular activities.
To achieve this, I strongly believe that we must have the correct curriculum in place (K-12) as well as the correct choices of extra-curricular activities. To create a well-rounded student through education and activities, we must make the correct business decision and create a manageable budget in order to keep our costs at a minimum.
I am running for school board with the intent of putting my utmost priority on students and their academic education. Providing a productive learning environment and a quality education for all students is essential to making the Gillespie CUSD #7 schools successful. The district must focus on recruiting and retaining highly qualified faculty and staff members while providing an excellent support system for our teachers and administrators. I will work earnestly to bring commitment, results and achievement from a personal perspective and from a district perspective.
Extracurricular activities provide valuable lessons for our children. Many of the fundamental traits taught in successful programs become building blocks for the successes our children will experience throughout their lives. Teamwork, sportsmanship, hard work, dedication, self-discipline and self-confidence are critical in developing successful relationships – both working and personal. These qualities are some of what every employer looks for in a potential employee and an individual looks for in a lifelong partner.
Productive and successful English, reading, math and science programs are required at the core of every vibrant school district; however, music, art, vocational programs, physical education and sports play a vital role in the complete development of our children. Citizens of the district need to be confident that board members are capable of prioritizing all of these programs without mismanaging taxpayer dollars. I will work diligently to balance academics with the various extracurricular activities so our school district fulfills the needs of all students and the expectations of our community.
There is and always has been a fine line between education and extra-curricular activities. The extra-curricular activities are good for school and community spirit. They build comradery, develop leadership and give Students an outlet for their energy. But on the other hand we don’t want their education to suffer. The majority of the student will not participate in the same extra-curricular activities after high school. We need to make sure they have the tools to succeed in whatever direction they decide to go after high school whether that is to the job force, vocational school or college. I believe that our school curriculum and the extra-curricular activities that we provide should reflect that.
I would like to work together with the teachers and parents of this community to offer our children the best education possible. This should be the number one reason our children attend school. I would also like, if possible, to increase the spectrum of extra-curricular activities available for the students.
My vision for education is to first achieve state goals in student testing and then to continue on to be one of the top scoring schools in Macoupin county. To accomplish this, our community needs to make education a top priority in every household. We need to ensure that every family values the importance of their child’s success in the classroom. We need
to promote a working relationship between home and the classroom since learning does not stop at the end of the school day.
We, as board members, need to make certain that our staff has the proper technology and materials to educate our students for the future. Our administration needs to identify best teaching practices of high achieving districts and arrange visits for staff to observe and incorporate new methods for success. Our staff and administration needs to work together to locate seminars and workshops to improve and align curriculum. We need to investigate co-operating with neighboring districts to enhance higher level and vocational class offerings. Our district needs to address the needs of the college bound student as well as vocational students.
Extra-curricular activities are an important part of any district. They help our students to become better citizens not just better students. Students can find a place to belong in extra curricular activities whether it be on a sports team, chorus, student government, FFA, or the many other opportunities available. Our district currently has a co-operative agreement with Mt. Olive for cross-country, wrestling and soccer. These arrangements allow both schools to offer opportunities to students neither district could offer individually while maintaining their identity. Co-operative agreements in my opinion are a better alternative than consolidation.
I believe the CUSD#7 should prepare and challenge every student so that they can succeed in whatever career they choose to pursue. This means hiring more teachers with Masters Degrees so that we can have more advanced placement courses in the high school. This would challenge the college bound students academically and prepare them for a successful college career. We must always recognize that a majority of our students will directly enter the workforce, work their way through college, or continue their education at technical schools. Broadening our vocational education programs will better prepare the students that will be joining the workforce once they finish high school. This can be done by reinstating previously lost vocational classes. Extra-curricular activities are important, but I feel that too much emphasis has been placed on these activities. A school district is always balancing its financial resources to educate students. We must be focused on our primary job of preparing students to be productive citizens in a competitive job force.
Like most concerned parents, I continue to be involved in my son’s day to day educational experiences and endeavor to encourage him to set high expectations for himself so that he learns to be industrious and strives to be exceptional rather than merely competent. As a school board member, I would hope to promote a curriculum that challenges our students to go beyond just being competent by raising the bar, by setting higher expectations in the classroom for them. I believe that if classroom teachers set higher expectations, most children will try to meet those expectations once we make them realize what they must do to be successful. In such a fast changing world, we need to be certain that our students can compete in the fields that demand problem solvers, innovators, and most importantly leaders.
Since I am so involved in the Youth Programs, I would want to support a continuation of all our sports activities in the district. It is my belief that involvement in sports promotes leadership skills and challenges athletes to be the best they can be, traits that they would also take into their adult life. I would like to see our schools as competitive as other schools in the county. I would like to see a committee formed that would investigate how we might get more students involved in extra-curricular activities and maybe offer students more activities that would interest them. I believe that student involvement in their school motivates them to want to make their school the best, whatever activity they become involved in.
3. What are your top two priorities or what are some of the school district’s immediate issues you feel should be addressed?
Fiscal responsibility is the most immediate issue that needs to be addressed. Some of those issues pertaining to fiscal responsibility are cutting administrator’s salaries, and unneeded administrative positions. Also, investigating the estimated price, presented to the school board by the architect, of the construction of the new elementary school. Transparency is another important issue to the school district. It is unnecessary for the current school board members and superintendent to meet one hour before every regular scheduled meeting in “closed session.” The school board needs debate issues, except personal and legal matters, in the public eye. When I am elected I will work with the other members to discontinue this practice and to change the status quo.
Academics will be my top priority. I believe in having high expectations for both student achievement and teacher instruction. The implementation of No Child Left Behind, has forced accountability. Accountability as measured through test scores is not necessarily a bad thing. However, schools must be careful not to allow efforts to raise test scores to result in a narrowing of the curriculum. Instead, our school district must provide teachers with the best professional
development opportunities and the best materials it can afford to ensure that students continue to be taught higher order thinking skills along with the facts.
Another priority will be that of working to develop even stronger lines of communication. I feel it is important to keep an open ear and an open mind to the concerns expressed by the community and by the district’s teachers, support staff, and administration. However, I enter this venture understanding that only when matters are brought before the school board through the proper chain of command can any real progress be made. Like others, I am filled with observations and opinions. If elected to the school board, I hope to be in a position to obtain the necessary facts and to combine these with my observations and opinions in order to do my best to make informed decisions.
I would like to see school board meetings become more “friendly.” The board is not living up to the spirit of the Open Meetings Act. As a board member, I would push to have those agenda items that are not sensitive in nature to be discussed in open session. The second issue I would like to see addressed is the curriculum.
While I have several priorities as a school board member, my top two priorities are for our district to have high academic achievement and sound financial stability. I would like to promote increasing academic achievement levels by implementing programs that challenge, stimulate and encourage our students and staff to excel in academic areas as well as provide the student body with a solid foundation of good citizenship and life skills. I will pursue the most cost effective and resourceful solutions for our district that will continue to promote academic and life skill achievement for our children while providing them with ample opportunities and avenues to excel.
The top two immediate issues I would like to address are school/parent communication and to assure the correct management processes are in place for all our staff, teachers and administrators.
Many school districts currently have websites available to parents and students (K-12) to log onto and see the student’s information such as homework assignments, projects and grades. Programs like this have proven very successful in other districts and will open up communication between school and home.
I also want to address our evaluation processess. In order to have a healthy staff in any work environment, evaluations are needed for all staff, teachers and administration. It is very important to assure a strong education, we must have a good staff, strong teachers and a leading administrative staff.
The immediate short term priority is completing construction of the new elementary school in a timely and cost effective manner. The school must be a state of the art facility that can be utilized by our grade school children for years to come. A significant amount of time and thought needs to be invested throughout the construction process to ensure campus and classroom layout meets the needs of our youngest and most impressionable students.
From a long term perspective, my top priority is guaranteeing our children receive the quality education they each deserve. Our schools must provide all students with a challenging curriculum and a positive learning environment. The district must efficiently utilize all of its resources – personnel, facilities and financial. The board must be responsible, diligent and accountable. In addition, parents, teachers, administrators and students should feel comfortable approaching the board with their ideas, questions and concerns.
Lastly, I believe our district must always be receptive to change. We need to be cognizant of our changing culture. Our educational philosophy and approach must adapt to these changes as best it can. In what ways can we improve our curriculum or its delivery? Can we provide online courses to our students? Creativity, desire and involvement will assure that our district continues to successfully move forward.
I believe that the new school is one of the biggest issues that our school and community are facing right now. I know that it will require a large amount of our time and other resources. I want to make sure that the other issues our school is facing, and will be facing, don’t get pushed aside because of the new school.
I am concerned about the use of drugs in and around our school. I would also like to see our district embrace and implement more technology.
My main priority is the education of our students. We, as a community and school board, need to be sure that the teachers have the adequate supplies and updated educational materials necessary to provide our students with the education they deserve and need. Another area of concern for me is technology. We need updated technology to keep the communication between the parents and educators open and to provide a better education for our children. Technology is here! It is no longer the future.
My top two priorities are to improve our test scores and to complete the construction of the new elementary school. The most important priority is the improvement of state test scores. The quality of education today is the future of our community tomorrow. My ideas for improving test scores are stated in my answer to question 2.
The construction of the new elementary school is the largest cash outlay in the history of our school district. Our board and administration have been successful in securing funds from the capital development board to cover 75% of the cost of the project. We have worked with community members to determine a location for the complex. The districts architect has conducted meetings with staff to design the building. Over the course of my farming career, I have had the responsibility of completing several building projects. These projects have given me the insight to be an informed board member who will make responsible decisions during the building process.
We need to improve our test scores. Over the past five years we have been performing lower on standardized test scores then other school districts in Macoupin County. This leads me to question the difficulty of our curriculum and/or our education system compared to other schools in the county. The administrators and teachers need to improve the curriculum to require the students to not just memorize the material, but know the material on a conceptual level. Also, as a student I was responsible for my test scores that helped me attain acceptance into a four year university. Do we hold the administrators responsible for the test scores for the school district? We should. It is their job as administrators to fix any problems educationally, or be held responsible for the bad test scores that we face.
In light of our state budget crunch, I realize that finances are one of the most important issues school districts face, and school boards are challenged to provide the best possible education for students with what monies they have. And so they must be diligent about how they use the money, careful about what financial decisions they make. I feel it is necessary for the district to stick to a budget and to cut spending in the areas it can, or at least investigate thoroughly where cuts can be made without having to reduce the work force or cut valuable programs.
I also think another top priority is finding ways to raise the test scores of our students so that we are not lagging behind other schools in the county. I think that there needs to be more open discussion between administrators, teachers and school board members concerning how to improve our test scores. In my opinion, I think we lack this kind of communication, almost as if we are afraid to discuss the facts.
4. Optional – Do you have any specific changes you want to make in school district policies, programs, or the various school curricula being offered? If so, what changes do you want to make and why?
Two changes that I would like to encourage is the hiring of a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and a full-time art instructor. Both programs fell victim to cuts due to funding issues in recent years. I know first-hand that our students have benefited from classes which taught them food preparation, clothing construction, consumer awareness, and child care and development. The high school has excellent facilities to accommodate these courses. Also, plans for the new elementary school include an art room which, in my opinion, should be staffed with an art teacher. From what I’ve witnessed, Mr. Rosentreter is doing an excellent job with our artistically talented high school students. That type of talent should be stimulated at an early age through formal art instruction. If funds are available, the school board needs to think seriously about adding these two programs.
Additionally, I would like to see our district conduct a postgraduate survey. Data from such a survey could help teachers and administrators evaluate our programs across the curriculum based upon what our graduates believe to be our strengths and our weaknesses.
I strongly support vocational education. I think a great disservice was done to our students by the elimination of the Home Ec and Building Trades classes. I would be in favor of reinstating them.
I plan to continue to align school district policies with state and federal code while offering programs of value that meet the needs of our children by offering curricula that not only teach the basics, but also provide for growth in achievement and learning. I believe that our vocational programs should be an integral part of the curricula in order to provide various avenues for continued growth of our children post primary education. I believe that the school board should be proactive in communications with the community. School administration, teachers and parents should strive for high levels of accountability and encourage and support high levels of achievement in their children.
I believe it is in our children’s best interest to dedicate additional resources to technology planning and implementation. We will need to be resourceful in finding these additional dollars at a time when school budgets are stretched and decimated on a continual basis. School districts are periodically eligible to receive grant money from various sources in an effort to help revive and innovate their technology offerings. We should be actively searching for these dollars on a continual basis so our children have the opportunity to obtain higher levels of technological literacy.
I also believe it is imperative to consistently strive to improve the educational experience of our children at all grade levels. A school’s philosophy must focus on excelling and enriching each student’s educational experience. Life does not provide a free ride, and we are doing our students no favors if our educational system contributes to false hopes. At a time of declining parental involvement, we must be even more diligent in our efforts to achieve the desired result.
My children are still in Grade school, so at this time I don’t have any specific changes. I would, however, like to be involved in the creation of new policies and the changing of old policies that will be implemented while my children are in school.
One of the things I would like to see develop in the Gillespie school district is an online grade book program. These programs help keep the parents informed of their child’s grades, discipline actions, lunch money, etc. They are able to access all of this information in their homes online. Teachers need parental support and participation in their student’s education and this tool is very helpful for that purpose. The online grade books are also very helpful with communication from teacher to teacher and from parent to teacher. The teachers are able to look up grades and discipline actions from other classes to get a better perspective of students needs. They also have access to parent information if there is ever a need to contact the parent. They would no longer need to contact the school office for this information. It saves the teacher and parent an unlimited about of time. The students also find the programs helpful tracking their grades, lunch money, and homework assignments, and locating other important information that can be found on these websites.
I feel the most significant area for change is the curriculum. The curriculum needs to be aligned so that all students in a grade level cover the same content. It should also be aligned vertically through the grades so that the students do not have gaps or overlaps in their learning. At all levels we need to determine what techniques and technology are available to make our school more successful.
At all levels our district needs to promote parental involvement. Technology exists to allow parents to monitor student’s grades, daily classroom learning and assignments from a home computer so parents are continually informed of their child’s progress. At the High School, level we need to increase the number of dual credit courses for college available to students. This could be accomplished by providing additional incentives for staff to become qualified to teach these classes. Co-operative agreements with neighboring districts to share and move staff not students are a possible solution. We need to maintain or increase our vocational programs. Over the past several years an increasing number of our vocational students remain in our community after graduation. We need to make certain their education allows them to be successful members of the community.