2017 Oswego Candidate Questionnaire: Matt Bauman, SD308 Board
Mar 19, 2017 04:23PM ● Published by Steven Jack
Employment: Funeral Director, Salerno’s Rosedale and Galewood Chapels
Family: Married for 13 years to Carri, 2 Daughters Ali, 9 and Lia, 7
Education: Graduate, Worsham College of Mortuary Science
Previously elected office: Board Member. School District 308 Board of Education
Relevant community service: School and Church Volunteer.
What makes you qualified to serve on the School District 308 School Board?
Being a concerned parent and resident of the district.
What do you believe is the role of a School Board member?
It is clear, the board is a governing body to hire a superintendent to run the district, and develop policy to help guide the district. We are all passionate about our children and schools, and should advocate on their behalf.
What are some examples of programs or departments that are currently working well in District 308?
I feel the On-Line and dual credit classes are highlights of the district offerings. We have students graduating with over 20 hours of college credit! Providing our Jr. High students to obtain high school credit is another way of setting up the students for success and the ability to accelerate their course selections.
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?
I believe that communication and information coming from the district needs addressed. The administration should reevaluate the roles and responsibilities of the department and bring forth the appropriate changes, the district must do a better job of getting the correct information out and with a reasonable timeline.
Special education and the withdrawal from the co-op has been an ongoing issue. I have heard time and again about the struggles that our special education families go through during their IEP meetings.
The former Director of Special Education has resigned and the district is now going through process to find a replacement. There is currently a survey that has been sent out to the parents and hopefully, with everyone’s input, the appropriate leadership can be placed in that position and put the department on the right course and get the students the proper services that they need and deserve.
There is still a feeling in our community that our district, district leadership, and schools do not value, or listen to the concerns of parents. I feel that hiring Dr. Sparlin had begun to correct some of those wrongs. There is a new Superintendent Parent Advisory Committee that started this year, this is a great forum for parents to bring concerns directly to district administration. I will continue to urge our administration to take an active role in the communication with our community, and make sure everyone feels heard.
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 have had conversations with our other local officials stressing the need for additional mixed development. We cannot continue to rely on residential property taxes and general state aid. We need larger sales and industry within our district boundary to generate alternative revenue.
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?
Salaries and benefits account for 80% of the Budget. Unfortunately, when cost reduction conversations arise, one must look at the biggest part of the budget, so I believe staff will most likely always be a part of the conversation.
This part is difficult. We have teachers with tremendous amounts of experience and do a premier job of educating and getting to know our students and families. They are an integral part of what makes this district so great. I am pleased that the board released as few teachers as possible. Those reductions came from the closing of Eastview and redrawing the boundary lines.
The dual language program is a mode of delivery for instruction to our ELL students. Choosing to move forward with Dual Language did not put the district in this financial position, and moving forward with another programming option will not solve the budget issues that the district is facing.
To this point, I have favored looking for cost reductions that are not program related. When we come to that point, it will be much bigger than a dual language issue, the board will most likely be faced with multiple programs and options for consideration.
When and if we get to that point, I will advocate for community input, because those considerations will have an extremely personal impact to our families and the options that our children will have available to them.
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?
This question should be combined with the previous question. All options must be considered, and considered equally. The choices are going to affect all families, but for different reasons, this should be our last resort. Therefore, I have begun conversations with presidents from surrounding boards of education, and meeting with our local legislators so that we can advocate together with a louder voice.
All districts are facing financial burdens. (Oak Park currently has a referendum to keep their art program) This conversation goes beyond our local school board cutting and running as efficiently as possible, and we must advocate to the state to 1) pay the funds that they owe us (they are currently behind with their categorical payments) 2) to develop a funding formula that is sustainable to the state and fair to our district and taxpayers. I believe these actions taking place are most important and must continue to happen prior to cutting programs.
If we get to that point, I would recommend putting an operating referendum on the ballot and let our community come together and make the decision to continue offering the great programming we have in 308.
We must continue to offer great programs, with great teachers for our students and community. I am thrilled with the education my kids are receiving in this district, and my concern will be that if we simply cut, cut, cut, we will lose that value that our district provides, and we must not allow that to happen to our community or our children.