Graham Brisben

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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: 45

Profession: Entrepreneur

Years in Oak Park: 8

Have you attended a District 97 school in the past? No

Do you have children who have, are or will be attending a school in District 97? What are their ages?

Yes - I have a fourth grader at Longfellow Elementary, and a seventh grader at Julian Middle School

Why are you running for this office?

I am running for school board primarily out of a desire to contribute my time, skills, and energy to the community. District 97 is important to me not only as a parent with children in the District, but also because quality education is one of the key reasons that people choose to live in Oak Park. As such, the performance and quality of D97 is critical for all of us, regardless if we have children being educated here.

I have had the opportunity to interact with the D97 board, administration, and other vested parties not only as a parent, but also as a member of the citizen's group that advocated for passage of the operating funds referendum in 2011. As part of that effort I have become familiar with both the strengths and opportunities for improvement within the District, and therefore seeking this office is a natural "fit" for my desire to contribute to the greater good of Oak Park and its children, parents, and taxpayers.

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

What are your strongest concerns about District 97 at this time?

There are four primary areas in which I would hope to focus my energy and attention to if elected to the D97 school board:

  1. Judicious use of taxpayer dollars – Having been a part of the effort to pass the very necessary operating funds referendum in 2011, it is a logical continuation for me to help lend my financial and operational perspective toward the District's use of funds so that citizens can be confident that their tax dollars are being spent wisely and with an eye toward value and results.
  2. Teacher and principal evaluations - Objective evaluation of professional educators presents unique challenges, and I believe that an opportunity for improvement exists for D97 in the process and use of both teacher and principal evaluations to help elevate student achievement and organizational effectiveness.
  3. Teacher contract renewal – Oak Park is fortunate to have some of the very best teachers in the country. Where the "rubber hits the road" - the front lines working with our kids – D97 has an opportunity to enhance innovation and collaboration for success in the teacher labor contract that will be renegotiated in 2014. My own career has involved numerous large-scale contract negotiations, and I am looking forward to contributing to that process.
  4. Long-term leadership – It is possible that our current superintendent may elect to retire at some point during my four year prospective board term, and in my career I have had extensive experience in the recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and coaching of Chief Executives and other senior leaders. If and when that time comes during my prospective board service, "getting it right" could set the stage for the long-term continued excellence of District 97, and by extension the contribution D97 will make to the overall success and vitality of our community.

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