Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Wednesday Journal sent out to all candidates running in this year's elections.
Profession: Partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers
Years lived in River Forest: 12
Spouse, if applicable: Ute Meyer
Do you have children in D90 schools? How many and what ages?
I currently have one child in D90 schools, and that is my daughter Sammi Meyer, age 10. Sammi is a 4th grader at Lincoln Elementary School. My wife Ute and I have five other children who are college age and beyond. Four of them attended D90 schools (Lincoln and Roosevelt), as well as OPRF. Our oldest was already in high school (OPRFHS) when we moved to River Forest in 2000, so he did not attend D90 schools.
Have you ever run for or served in a local political office before? If so, when and which office?
I ran for and was elected to the River Forest D90 school board in April 2009. I am in my fourth year with the D90 school board where I currently serve as vice president.
If you are not currently on the school board, how many school board meetings have you attended in the last year?
Why are you running for this office?
Since moving to River Forest in 2000, five of our six children have attended D90 schools. They received an excellent education, and were well prepared for the transition to high school, college and beyond. It is very important to me that the D90 educational mission remain strong and continue to evolve not only during those years when my children are attending River Forest schools, but for generations to come. So for me, being a member of the Board is my way of giving back to the schools and community that have meant so much to my family. The past 3-1/2 years of Board service have been tremendously rewarding, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve for a second term.
What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing the district in the next four years?
I think that the biggest challenge we face in the district is the need to educate the whole child so they are prepared for high school, college, and the many challenges that lay beyond. There are a whole host of secondary challenges that impact our ability to address the primary challenge, and these include:
- Financial challenges. While D90 is in very good shape financially, the future can certainly bring with it surprises, such as likely changes in the way teacher pensions are funded. We need to make sure we continue to strike the right balance between furthering our educational mission, being stewards of tax payer dollars, and addressing other financial obligations that the District must meet. Common Core. As we adopt this new standard curriculum, we need to do so with eyes wide open, to make sure that we remain true to our educational mission.
- Teacher evaluations. Again, we need to make sure we are striking the right balance between new state requirements around teacher evaluations and accountability, and the furtherance of our educational mission.
What skills/talents do you have that would enable you to deal with those challenges?
In part, I have the advantage of having served on the Board for the past 3-1/2 years, and in doing so I feel that I have learned a tremendous amount about our curriculum, finances, strategic goals, etc. But I also bring to the table a strong finance background from my professional life where I've managed significant budgets for over 20 years, a deep understanding of the sometimes diverse points of view of all River Forest stakeholders, and a real passion for education.
If elected, what are three goals that you have for the next four years?
Most importantly, it is my goal to continue to provide a safe environment where we never lose sight of our Mission-- namely to prepare our children "for the changing world by providing a strong academic foundation and instilling the love of learning in an environment that fosters student growth, nurtures respect for others as well as an appreciation of self, and challenges our children to excellence".
Second, it is important to me that we never forget our fiduciary obligation to all River Forest stakeholders whether they have children in D90 schools or not. In addition to continuous communication and transparency, this also means that we spend taxpayer dollars as responsibly as possible in the furtherance of our educational mission.
And third, as we implement the new core curriculum and teacher evaluation requirements over the next couple of years, we do so in a way that is consistent with our values and Mission.