Steve Gevinson

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Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Wednesday Journal sent out to all candidates running in this year's elections.

Age: 61

Profession: retired English teacher and administrator from OPRF, teaching Winter Quarter (3 classes) at University High Lab School of U of C, teaching Spring Quarter (1 class) at Northwestern University, COO of Rookie LLC (my daughter's website for teenage girls, Rookie, www.rookiemag.com)

Years in Oak Park or River Forest: at OPRFHS 1978-2010, rented apartment 1979-1981, owned house 1986-now

Are you an OPRF graduate? No

Do you have children who have, are or will be attending OPRF? What are their ages? Yes, 22, 20, 16

Why are you running for this office?

I love the school into which I poured my best professional efforts for my entire career. I have been happy and proud to have my three daughters educated at OPRF. I wish to help maintain, solidify, and improve the quality of the school. I know how important the school is to the vitality and viability of Oak Park and River Forest. I understand well the challenges of assuring that this large comprehensive school serves all of its students well. I have been concerned of late with the growth and rigidity of the administrative hierarchy and would like to see the professional faculty empowered to participate more effectively in educational decisions.

Have you ever run for or served in a local political office before? If so, when and which office? No

Are there individuals or groups which actively encouraged your interest in running for the D200 board? Yes

What do you consider to be the greatest strengths of Oak Park and River Forest High School?

OPRF has a long tradition as an excellent comprehensive public high school. The OP and RF communities have been wonderfully supportive of the school and have approached challenges through the years sensitively, thoughtfully, wisely, creatively, and professionally. The professional faculty of the school is outstanding. The school's response to diversity and equity issues, in particular, in recent decades has been exemplary in many important ways. While much remains to be accomplished, the school is moving forward on solid footing, thanks in great part to the efforts of the professional faculty.

What are your strongest concerns about the school at this time?

Cementing top-down decision making in a rigidly hierarchical administrative structure, as has happened in recent years, is dangerous for a school. At the same time, federal and state mandates and the testing industry are having too much influence on educational decisions in the school. Teachers should be enlisted as decision making partners, but the opposite has happened: teachers have been increasingly disempowered on educational decisions and direction. I am concerned, too, that the poor reporting on and considerable misunderstanding about the District's financial reserves will encourage a fairly unthinking anti-tax backlash among citizens.

How many District 200 school board meetings have you attended in the past two years? None. But over my long career at OPRF, I attended many, many Board meetings.

What is your opinion of the Strategic Planning Process currently underway?

I am not directly involved, but from what I can gather, it seems to be a promising process. As chairperson of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee from 1991-1993, I was heavily involved in the previous strategic planning effort in the early 1990's, and I saw that it can be a most productive process, although I also know that it can be quite a challenge to carry through on the actual plans that emerge. I have great confidence in Allan Alson as facilitator of the current effort.

Should District 200 become an active funder and partner in the Collaboration for Early Childhood initiatives to boost the success of at-risk children in Oak Park?

I strongly support the idea of addressing educational issues as early as possible in a child's life, including its prenatal life. I strongly support the work of the Collaboration for Early Childhood. District 200 should absolutely partner with the group to the extent that it is reasonable, possible, and legal. Ultimately, I think, early childhood initiatives in Oak Park and River Forest must secure substantial and reliable funding directly from taxpayers and/or foundations.

Is the current financial reserve held by the school district a reasonable amount or too much?

This is a bad question. It oversimplifies a complex problem, as coverage by the Wednesday Journal of the problem has tended to do, frankly. Tax cap legislation and referendum politics complicate the financial decisions of any school board in Illinois. Beyond that, the miserable economy of recent years makes the financial reserve an easy target for short-sighted thinking. I wish the WJ would cover the topic fairly and in its full complexity.

Reader Comments

7 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

OP Resident  

Posted: March 23rd, 2013 4:49 PM

Attended the forum today and Mr. Gevinson said: "The most important people at the school are the teachers." While I greatly value teachers, the most important people at the school are the STUDENTS. Do NOT vote for this man for school board!

OPRF Parent  

Posted: March 21st, 2013 6:24 AM

I would not vote for Mr. Gevinson for several reasons. Read his articles to Wednesday Journal in the past and his attitude toward OPRF is not that positive. In reading this survey, the idea he has a group behind his running but doesn't mention the group? Great transparency there! And I agree, taxpayers fully can understand the financial situation so it is not a bad question. I wouldn't have voted for him anyway but this seals my opinion. I don't trust him.

David W Ristau from River Forest & Lahaina  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 1:37 PM

No, Mr. Gevinson, it's not a "bad question". Mr. Gevinson, what part of 24 months reserve rather than recommended 9 month or even a 12 month reserve is "complicated"? Despite tax caps OPRF has accumulated TWO YEARS of annual budgets in reserve. IMO, you can't thumb your nose at a law any greater than that.

Mr. Middle  

Posted: January 24th, 2013 9:19 AM

@ Dan. "this is a bad question. It oversimplifies..." Simple comprehension skills has Mr. Gevinson implying that we the tax payers cannot understand such a difficult issue. Or worse, we just do not understand what really smart people on OPRF do. I find Mr. Gevinson's attitude to be the very basis of mistrust and dysfunction in this community. A more honest answer would be "I believe we need to wisely spend/save for this money on..." He passed and said we just do not understand. I do

Dan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 23rd, 2013 11:06 PM

Where does he say that he thinks you're a caveman, or that the issue is too complicated for you to understand? How is that the same as asking the WJ to report the complexities? Do our communities have to fall prey to the same nasty, straw-man arguments we expect from Fox News? District 200: Invest the money; postpone the inevitable referendum. This guy gets my vote.

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: January 23rd, 2013 11:07 AM

so another one of those candidates who thinks that the fund balance issue is just too complex for us frozen caveman taxpayers to understand. Sorry but I will use my club to vote for someone else.

No vote for you  

Posted: January 23rd, 2013 10:48 AM

The current financial reserve question is not a "bad question." The backlash is all the WJ's fault? Who is this joker kidding?

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