In the comment section under the article about the Woodstock Council of Teachers’ candidates’ night tonight at 6 PM at the Woodstock High School auditorium candidate Susan Handelsman provides the IFT local’s questions and her answers.
They are reprinted below:
Questions sent to candidates by McHenry County Federation of Teachers Local 1642
My answers below.
1. What are your motivations for running?
1. Our community is suffering a property tax rate crisis caused by D200’s irrational spending and borrowing policies over the past decade. Left unchecked, Woodstock’s 4.6% property tax rate is a negative feedback loop which will continue to escalate in severity. Survival instinct is a powerful motivation.
2. Why do you believe that you would be a good school board member?
2. I perform independent research, and evidence-based rather than emotional analyses.
3. What do you believe is the role of a school board member?
3. First determine a budget which is appropriate relative to the means of the community. Next obtain input from administrators tasked with optimization of student education. Perform independent research to validate or refute recommended guidance. Later, evaluate outcomes and change what isn’t working.
4. What do you think is/are the biggest concern(s) facing District 200?
4. Woodstock’s 4.6% property tax rate is conscripting an inordinate percentage of local households’ incomes which could otherwise be saved for a child’s college fund or parents’ financial stability. A lot of fellow humans in our community are one stroke of bad luck away from financial crisis. This district should be very concerned about the next recession (there has not been a decade in recorded economic history without one).
5. What current critical issues do you see impacting District 200?
5. Lakewood TIF represents an enormous economic threat to the taxpayers of D200. The IGA is arguably unenforceable and contains a loser-pays clause making litigation an expensive gamble. Additionally, Woodstock TIF ( taking $700,000/year which must be replaced by property -taxpayers) is seeking a 12 year extension from 2020 and will obtain it unless the D200 Board vigorously objects.
6. What valuable training do you feel that school boards members should have or need?
6. Board members need to understand the Budget and debt for which they cast votes. Statutory Tax rate caps which apply to various Funds, PTELL, and maximum debt limits should be understood before any votes are cast.
7. How do you feel District 200 compares to other districts in the country?
7. National Center for Education Statistics (EDFIN) at nces.ed.gov has a peer review comparison tool. The comparison indicates that D200 spends significantly more per pupil per year than national peers in almost every spending category.
Illinois School Report Cards indicates D200 students underperform State students on PARCC, DLM. 50% college readiness is better than State 47%, but it is difficult to express pride over 50% college readiness.
8. When are you available to visit schools and classrooms?
8. I will make myself available when it is convenient to the teachers and students. (But not on Wednesdays).