2017 Oswego Candidate Questionnaire: Danielle Paul, SD308 Board
Mar 19, 2017 02:00PM ● Published by Steven Jack
Employment: cors, Inc. Lake Zurich – Senior Director, Recruitment Solutions
Family: Husband, John and Children, Kathryn, Nathan, Christopher and Colin
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Northern Illinois University
Previously elected office: SD 308 Board of Education in 2013 and Wheatlands Homeowners Association for 11 years
Relevant community service: Wheatlands Elementary PTA – Treasurer and Oswego Foundation For Educational Excellence (OFEE) – 7 years.
What makes you qualified to serve on the School District 308 School Board?
I believe that the experience I have gained in the past for years while serving on the BOE will be extremely important over the next couple of years. The district has not experienced the revenue issues with the state that we are currently experiencing in our history. There will be some tough decisions that need to be made over the next couple of years to keep our district in local control. Unfortunately, we are not the only district in the state to be experiencing these issues. However, if the state would pay us even a portion of the $70+ million owed to us, our district wouldn’t be facing any of the issues we are currently facing.
What do you believe is the role of a School Board member?
The role of the BOE is very clearly defined as setting the direction and policy for the district. The only person the BOE hires is the Superintendent. The BOE should also make sure that the Superintendent and his staff are accountable to the direction and the policy and it is carried out as defined.
What are some examples of programs or departments that are currently working well in District 308?
At both high schools the AP and Dual Credit classes have been very successful. We have had a number of students since both programs were put in place that have graduated with a number of college credits. This translates to big dollars for our students and their parents.
Apart from the serious financial problems facing the district, what are the three biggest issues that need fixing, and how do you propose fixing them?
1) Ensuring that we work to close the achievement gap between of our students. We have done additional training and will continue with the training to ensure that teachers understand various ways to reach our students.
2) Recruiting and retaining teachers, professionals and support staff. There are some specialized positions that are hard to fill, not just in our district, but across the board. We need to make sure that we are recruiting the best teachers to our district and then working to keep them. We should even look at growing our own teaching staff. We have a wonderful club at the high school level club called Educators Rising. We should work with the students who are in the club and follow them through their college career and encourage them to come back to the district and teach.
3) Making sure our students are college and career ready. We need to make sure for our students who are going on to college that they are prepared for how to study. There are a number of students who sail through high school without much work or cracking a book. Then when they get to college, they are overwhelmed by the amount of study time it takes to get good grades and just pass classes. While AP and Dual Credits are great additional tools for our kids, we also need to make sure that we are teaching them the basic study skills that will make them successful in college.
District 308 is facing massive budget deficits in the coming years. Beyond tax increases, what are some specific ideas for added revenue that could be brought in to the district?
I think that we are going to have to get creative in looking for additional revenues for the district. I think we need to continue to look for additional grants to offset the costs of projects that we may need to complete. I think we need to work with village to ensure we are looking at bringing business that will help to generate additional sales tax and potential property taxes for the district. I think that we also need to work with our legislators to make sure that we are given a fair and reasonable amount to educate our students. We must also follow through to ensure that those funds actually make their way to the district and at the amount guaranteed. For the past few years, we have received pro-rated amounts of promised dollars from the state.
Recently announced cuts to staff have concerned many parents and teachers who have said the district should reconsider its decision to move forward with the Dual Language program instead of cutting staff. Do you support re-examining the program’s place in the district when it comes to deficit reduction?
I believe all programs need to be examined to see if there can be reductions made.
When it comes to balancing the budget in the coming years, is there anything off limits when it comes to cuts? For instance, would you support cutting any and or all extracurricular activities?
Unfortunately, I think everything has to be on the table.