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Oswego Election 2015: Bill Walsh, Candidate for School District 308 Board

Mar 17, 2015 08:13PM ● Published by Steven Jack

Bill Walsh

Name: Bill Walsh

Website: Please email Questions or Comments to billwalshfor308@att.net

Employment: Senior Procurement Manager, Sidley Austin, LLP

Family: My wife, Kristen, is a teacher in the District and I have 4 children enrolled in the District

Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Minor in Accounting and Business Law, Master’s of Business Administration and a Master’s of Project Management.

Previously elected office: Current Board Member of School District 308

Relevant community service: I have donated my time to the communities that I work and live in.  In the past I have volunteered through my employers at a Chicago Public School, Junior Achievement, a food pantry, a few community recreational centers, a youth hockey coach, and currently on the 308 Board of Education.  

What makes you qualified to serve on the School District 308 School Board? 

My past work experience at either a Fuel Cell Research and Development company, General Electric, or in my current  position has provided me the experience to understand and manage:

  • Complex Budgets,
  • Competing priorities,
  • Being Prepared to make decisions for the best interest of all the students based on solid facts and research while not let politics or personal interests invade my decision process. 

What do you believe is the role of a School Board member? 

The School Board serves in a Governance role to insure policies and procedures are fairly executed.  Additionally, the Board must set an Academic and Financial vision for the District and insure that the District Administration, Teachers, and Support Staff have the resources to complete the vision. 

What should be the No. 1 priority for the next School Board? 

Continued Focus on developing and improving academic programming to insure our students are career or college ready for what lies ahead of them. 

What are you plans to help repair broken relationships between the district and parent groups, including BPAC and Special Education? 

While some say the relationship between some parent groups are broken and others do not, the reality is that messaging and communication should be the focus to insure that the community understands the successes within the District, as well as the  challenges the District faces, which includes finances, implementation of new programs, and improving academic performance. 

In the face of dwindling state education dollars, what can and should be done to ease the District 308 property tax burden for local homeowners? 

We need to continue the productivity and efficiency efforts to save and repurpose funds within the district.  In the last 2 years we have saved $3,850,000 in property taxes through the reduction and/or reallocation of funds within the District and we are on track to realize Revenue, Savings and Reallocations of funds in the amount of $11,400,000 between 2013 through 2018.    We need to further work with our state representatives and legislators to, at a minimum, keep the current funding level as well as improve that level. We need to focus on our long-term debt and restructure those bonds in a responsible manner to provide relief too our taxpayers.

Many teachers and administrators have left the district in recent years. What should be done to improve employee retention in the district? 

Our Teachers, Staff and Administrators are doing an exemplary job. All one has to do is look at the websites to see the announcements of accomplishments and awards that our Teachers, Staff and, most importantly our Students have and continue to receive. Many individuals change positions for various reasons.  I respect their personal decisions.  The Board must insure that the Teachers, Staff and Administrators have all the resources that can be afforded to them, as well as not overburden everyone with too many initiatives. 

Should every elementary school in the district be home to all-day kindergarten classes? 

Regardless of where the children are located, they will have a great kindergarten experience. I would like all kindergartens housed within the home schools.  However, the answer to this simple question is extremely complex. There are many factors that will go into making this decision, including building capacity, academic programming, boundaries, growth patterns, transportation and many more. Thus, the decision to move, or not move, kindergarten to home schools needs significant thought and analysis. 

Is there any place in the district for a two-way language immersion program, now or in the future? 

While I truly understand the emotion and passion that some have regarding the  decision to move away from the current two-way language immersion program, known as Dual Language, I am, and will continue to be focused on insuring all our EL students, regardless of their native language which there are 41 within our District, become as academically proficient in the English language as possible to insure they are career and college ready to become successful in the future to meet their goals and dreams.

What level of participation should the community have in drawing new school boundary lines?

Regardless of when the effort to draw new school boundaries takes place, the development of the recommendation to the Board should include information, input and/or opinions from District employees, demographer(s) and the community.

How would you rate the job performance of the current district administration? Please explain.

While there is always room for improvement in any profession, the current District Administration is doing quite well, in large part to the collaborative efforts of the Teachers and Staff. I believe that the District is embarking on innovative initiatives to provide flexible learning opportunities for the students. These initiatives are supportive of students and staff, focusing resources on areas that need improvement, being fiscally responsible and continuously improving communications with staff, parent groups, the community as well as local and state leaders.

The achievement gap between students with IEPs and non IEP students continues to widen in the district. In your opinion, why is this happening? What should the district do to close that gap? 

I, like all the candidates, am not a special education teacher.  I value the input of experts. As noted in the audit report, there is an achievement gap that is unacceptable and the recommendation was to move from an inefficient model to a model that focuses on closing the academic gap.  I will work to insure that the special education department, including teachers, will collaborate to develop programming for the success of all students, with the goal of closing those gaps. 

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