The following has been received from Marengo Elementary School candidate Cynthia Allen Schenk outlines what she would like to do as a grade school board member below:
I believe District 165 needs a fresh perspective on Education. Property values are directly tied into the strength of our school district. We will never attract high quality residents who can afford our property taxes if we have a struggling school district.
Each School Board member must be accountable for the performance of Dist 165. I won’t hide behind excuses.
If elected I will be available to discuss and engage the public on subjects important to them as taxpayers and citizens of our community.
I encourage completely open dialogue and transparency. In pursuit of this I would welcome all (and help people feel comfortable) to school board meetings.
I wish to make it very clear that the children and the taxpayer should be a school board’s first and most important customer. We serve them.
A public school is a service to the community paid for by tax payers. They should not be a burden or a yoke on the neck of the community.
As an Executive Vice President of an International Management Consulting firm I am able to bring a strong communication style, financial management skill, sound budgeting practices and a common sense, down to earth back to basics approach to Dist 165 school board.
I have a proven track record of improving the bottom line with new creative and successful management initiatives and holding the line on spending.
I have also studied education for the past several years and believe we can look to other school districts across the country for ideas and then custom design solutions to suit our community’s unique needs.
District 165 was more than 3 million dollars in debt.
For a small town like Marengo this is a huge and very disturbing amount of money.
What I do know is: Don’t spend what you don’t have. The District has done just that.
Administration pay increases well above taxpayer salary increases, capital expenditures like a brand new bus fleet. New employees hired.
We cannot go on like this as a community.
We have more than enough money if we spend it wisely and we can obtain more quality with our dollar if used effectively.
To achieve this we need experience in business and education to rein in the waste. Until I am able to review the District’s budget in its entirety I cannot go into more detail, but rest assured, I am able to help find solutions which will be beneficial to the community.
On the subject of consolidation: Johnsburg did a consolidation a few years ago. The projected tax saving to the citizen was 2.5 million. It was a similar size to the three Marengo schools of Dist. 165, the High School and Riley.
Today Illinois has more school districts than any other state our size. We should have around 300 school districts in the State but we have close to 900.
This is a huge waste of tax payer resources and it robs children of numerous programs.
So either we take the lead and consolidate or we let the State do it.
I would prefer we control our own destiny.
That said we will still need to determine equalized salary cost between grade school and High School union teachers contracts. Does it make good fiscal sense?
Further, District 165 has had far too many new Superintendents over the last 20 years. This is an enormous cost to the taxpayer. I calculate several million dollars has been lost to this attrition.
If elected I plan to contact many of the past Superintendents to find out what could be done differently and how could we improve upon what they saw happening in the District. I am a seeker of the truth and always try to learn from others who have gone before me so I will call upon others to learn new successful strategies and avoid pitfalls of the past.
We have many good teachers in District 165. I am a back to basics type of person. We need to focus on our core strengths like Reading, writing and math and science.
We have some excellent teachers and students who excel in these areas. Good teachers know how to teach. We as the school Board need to support those initiatives and help find the tools and resources to allow good practices to flourish. Perhaps this could give us the best chance to improve the performance of ALL students in our District.
Public Education must improve in Illinois. This is a fact. I am focused on process improvement. I have 24 years of experience in this area of business. I think I can help our community. I would like the chance to try.
In the area of Special education and mental health services and support we can do much better. I wish to improve upon the general knowledge of special education service and the mental health services in our community.
I believe this is an area which needs some immediate attention, maybe even from the State.
We can do more for students in our community with special learning challenges and mental health needs and I think we can do it more cost effectively like Woodstock and Huntley. I have been a volunteer for the McHenry County Mental Health Board.
We can also do more for our Home School parents. I would like to see every support given to the large and growing Home School population in Marengo. Home schoolers are tax payers like all of us in the community and the Public School is a public resource with publicly employed staff. The school board and the public schools are here to SERVE the community. Let none of us forget this.
Should I be elected I would: Address the budget shortfalls. Identify and solve pending issues, engage parents and the public in open forums, start evaluating consolidation requirements, reach out to the community elders for ideas, talk with students and other school districts.