2017 Oswego Candidate Questionnaire: Heather Moyer, SD308 Board
Mar 19, 2017 04:49PM ● Published by Steven Jack
Name: Heather Moyer
Website: http://heathermoyersb.wixsite.com/sd308 https://www.facebook.com/moyerforschoolboard308/
Employment: Program Manager, Teen Parent Connection
Family: Married to Jeff Moyer; six year old son; two year old daughter
Education: B.A. – Applied Behavioral Sciences
Previously elected office: None
Relevant community service: I am a member of Moms and More Oswego and have held several different board positions within the group, including Leader and Community Outreach Coordinator. I am also a member of 100 Women Who Care – Oswego/Montgomery/Yorkville Chapter, and am a parent volunteer at Boulder Hill Elementary School.
What makes you qualified to serve on the School District 308 School Board?
I have been serving families in the non-profit sector for 15 years and I have an extensive knowledge of non-profit management, early childhood programming, and advocacy work at the state and local level. I have dedicated my professional life to serving parents and their children. Some of my accomplishments include: developing a comprehensive mental health initiative for young children and adolescents, which eliminated barriers to services and increased access to care for at-risk youth; providing learning opportunities and coordinated services that improved Kindergarten readiness in children birth to five. I have also been active in local and regional collaborations, taskforces and advisory groups in the early childhood and nonprofit fields. I am adept at working collaboratively with colleagues of varied perspectives to achieve shared goals.
What do you believe is the role of a School Board member?
The role of the school board is one of governance. The school board should help set clear goals and expectations for the school district and superintendant’s performance. Good school board members will do their due diligence in considering all information regarding decisions before them, and will prioritize the needs of the students first. School board members should act with great integrity, making sure they are operating with transparency.
What are some examples of programs or departments that are currently working well in District 308?
The fact that there is consistent use of ELA and Math Curriculums across buildings throughout the district is a strength. Additionally, I think we have very invested parents and parent groups that work collaboratively within their schools and programs to enhance the quality of our student’s educational opportunities.
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. Continue to increase communication and transparency amongst the district, parents, and community members to fully restore confidence in the district. I want to make sure that each parent, student, and professional group is given a voice and feels heard when discussing pertinent issues pertaining to them.
2. We need to address the achievement gap that continues to occur within the district. The district should be looking at data, and analyzing it critically, to determine which student subgroups are struggling. Current data shows us that our African American, Latino, and Low Income students are falling further behind, and we need to be proactive in addressing this concerning trend. The district should be implementing strategies that, research shows, work in addressing the achievement gap; often these strategies do not cost any additional money. We need to make sure that we are correctly investing in all students, and supporting them based on their needs.
3. Establishing and maintaining a fiscally responsible budget, while ensuring the quality of our children’s education. In order to do this, it will be important to keep resources in the classroom. I believe we need to continue to look at the current central administration structure, and make necessary adjustments to roles and responsibilities to streamline it further.
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 believe it is the responsibility of the school district and board members to continue to dialogue with our Village officials about the importance of increasing our local revenue. Working collaboratively on further economic development plans and creative problem solving on shared goals will benefit both the school district and our local community.
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?
As I have done research about Dual Language programs in general, and School District 308’s program specifically, I believe that the current board made the right decision in reinstating the Dual Language program. I have been struck by the overwhelming data and support in favor of this model.
The state requires that we provide educational opportunities for English Learners (EL) that supports the acquisition of the English language. Local, and National data, shows that the Dual Language model is the most effective way to do that. In fact, the school district hired an independent and impartial auditing firm to examine the Dual Language Program in 2014, and they found that “When comparing native Spanish speakers in the DL Program to other native Spanish speakers, as seen in Table 7, students in DL achieve significantly higher growth in English on ACCES” (pg. 16).
The audit also found that the per pupil comparison concluded that the district spent $3,147 dollars on K-5 DL students and $4,023 on non DL K-5 students. (pg. 20), highlighting the fact that district does not pay more to educate students through this innovative, best practice approach.
In response to some questions that have been raised regarding the program, here are some facts:
· A Dual Language Classroom has the same number of students as a general education classroom (per ISBE). Remember, all students in the Dual Language program are District 308 students and must be educated within the district regardless of what program they may be in. So, the number of classes and teachers needed for the elementary Dual Language program are the same as they would be for the same number of students in a general education classroom.
· EL students in dual language classrooms do not require an additional EL resource teacher in addition to their classroom teacher (a cost savings).
· Dual Language students use the same materials used by non dual language students, meaning they do not need materials in both languages.
· Students in dual language do require transportation, however many would require bussing even if they were going to their home school. The district has never been able to show an increased cost as EL students would have to be bused to a specialized program from across the district regardless of the model. Hence, picking up the native English speaking students on the way does not increase travel significantly. Further, the recent expansion to Boulder Hill has further decreased transportation costs overall.
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?
I believe that we need to make all possible efforts to avoid cuts to programs that support the healthy, well rounded growth of the children in our district. Any cuts to programs that serve our most vulnerable students, such as Special Education services would be off limits.