My name is Craig Iseli and I am a candidate for the District 200 Board of Education. My wife Holly and I have lived in Oak Park for nearly 20 years and we have two daughters at OPRF High School.
I believe our schools, particularly the high school, are an incredible balance of excellence and diversity, providing a rare opportunity for students. Moving to Oak Park was an easy decision: to be part of a community that so reflected our values. My involvement in the schools over the years has been driven by a belief that what we have is special, but it comes with a commitment to sustaining it.
I am running for the D200 board because I want to accomplish the following goals:
First, I want to set an example of leadership and work collaboratively across the school community, finding common ground and moving us forward. My colleagues would call me a quiet and effective leader. My experience on the District 97 school board, corporate boards, and in executive management roles helps me understand the scope of the challenges and how to make a difference.
Second, it is important that we stay focused on making OPRF a great high school for all students. From my experience making change happen in both big and small organizations, and working closely with D97 last year on their vision (equity, inclusion, and focusing on the whole child), I understand that these changes are complex and take courage and commitment from leaders. When I led them, these kinds of cultural changes didn’t happen overnight, so we will measure our progress and hold people accountable to the outcomes we want to achieve.
Third, I am concerned about how the district managed the funds it received from taxpayers in the past. We must make the model for supporting our schools sustainable and be more conscious of affordability. The current board has done better, but there are still challenges. This is a place where I can apply my skills and the public school financial experience I gained over years of service on different district financial advisory committees. Among other things, my committee helped benchmark the cost of our schools versus comparable districts and I understand the levers we can pull to align our costs with the revenue from our residents. The committee I chaired also drafted and reviewed policies that now support D97. Other local districts have used this as a best practice.
In closing, I believe that effective and successful leadership starts with creating a vision based on possibilities. We need to have leadership that finds ways to overcome challenges, not let ourselves be limited by them. With this kind of vision in Oak Park and River Forest, we can sustain our diversity and continue to attract the same quality of people who are so committed today to making this a great place to live and providing great schools for all students.