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  • School Board Candidates

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    --Mike Conley, Editor

    School Board Candidates

    Counties around the state of Illinois will have non-partisan consolidated elections on Tuesday, April 7 for seats on local units of government including townships, libraries, municipalities, parks, and schools.

    In western Clinton County, there is only one contested election, for seats on the Wesclin Community Unit School District #3 Board of Education.

    There are a total of nine candidates running for five seats on the Wesclin school board, although a stipulation in the school district charter effectively creates a race for four seats from among eight candidates. According to the district's charter, at least two of the board's seven members must reside in unincorporated areas of the district, to ensure adequate representation for farm and rural interests. Sitting board member Gerald Hatt, who has two years remaining on his term, lives in unincorporated New Baden, and candidate Todd Juehne, also lives in an unincorporated area of the district, is the only candidate for a two-year, unexpired seat.

    So the requirement for unincorporated representation ia assured to be met, leaving eight candidates--Shelly Hoerchler, Tina M. Litteken, Randy Schorfheide, Sandra Padak, Kent Jeanneret, Stacy Wellen, Matthew Fridley, and Jamie Brown--vying for four board seats. Schorfheide, Padak, and Jeanneret are incumbent board members, and Padak is the current board president.

    Wesclin's Education Association (WEA, the teacher's collective bargaining unit) collected information from the candidates through a questionnaire requesting background information and answers to several questions. Here are the candidates' responses:

    1. Did you attend school in the Wesclin School District?

    Jamie Brown - I attended Wesclin schools from kindergarten through high school graduation.
    Matthew Fridley - Yes
    Shelly Hoerchler - Yes
    Kent Jeanneret - No, I grew up in Kansas.
    Todd Juehne - No
    Sandra Padak - Yes, I graduated from Wesclin in 1986.
    Randy Schorfheide - No. I attended elementary school and high school in Nashville, IL. In addition, my wife previously worked in the Wesclin School District for 3 years.
    Tina Litteken - No, I grew up in Lebanon, IL and attended Lebanon High School.
    Stacy Wellen - No, I graduated from Breese-Central. I moved to Trenton in 1998 when I married, my husband Kirk. Kirk was born and raised in Trenton and graduated from Wesclin.

    2. How many of your children have attended or are currently attending schools in the District?

    Jamie Brown - I have 2 children currently attending Trenton Elementary.
    Matthew Fridley – 2 current
    Shelly Hoerchler – 2
    Kent Jeanneret – Three attended Wesclin schools, none are currently attending, they have all graduated and are either in the Air Force or attending SIUE.
    Todd Juehne – 1 is currently attending and 1 graduated from Wesclin.
    Sandra Padak - I have a son who currently attends Wesclin High School.
    Randy Schorfheide - Both of my children have attended school in the Wesclin District since Pre-K (Dillan) and Kindergarten (Lydia). Currently, Dillan is a Junior in high school and Lydia is a 7th grader at Wesclin Middle School.
    Tina Litteken – 3 currently attend school, and the youngest, my 4th child participates in Parents as Teachers
    Stacy Wellen - Both of my children currently attend Wesclin. My daughter is a Freshmen at Wesclin High School, and my son is in 4th grade at Wesclin Middle School.

    4. What is your education and work background?

    Jamie Brown - I received my BS in elementary education from SIUE in 2001. I received my MA in education from Lindenwood University in 2006. I taught second through fifth grades in St. Louis Public Schools from 2001-2006. I have been teaching third grade at Scott Elementary in the Mascoutah school district since 2006.

    Matthew Fridley -
    • WESCLIN High School-1990
    • Associates of Arts (AA) May 1992 - Southwest Illinois College, Belleville, Illinois
    • Bachelor of Science (BS) Biological Sciences, Dec. 1994 - Environment, Evolution and Ecology - Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, Illinois
    • Illinois State Teaching Certification, May 2001 - Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, Illinois
    • ISO Lead Auditor (Quality/Environmental) - Purdue University-2004
    • Incident Command- Texas A&M University, 2014
    • Hazardous Materials Technician/Weapons of Mass Destructions- Texas A&M
    • University, 2014

    • Rollins Environmental- Lead Chemist- 1995-1998
    • The Boeing Company-Safety, Health, Environmental Engineer- 1998-2001
    • AvChem- Corporate Account Executive- 2001-2009
    • GS Robins- Corporate Environmental, Health and Safety Manager- 2009-2011
    • Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals- Principal Environmental, Health and Safety Engineer-2011-2014
    • Brenntag- Corporate Environmental, Health and Safety Manager- Present

    Shelly Hoerchler - I have a degree in accounting and I am a licensed CSR at an independent insurance agency.

    Kent Jeanneret - Associate Degree – Business Administration
    Associate Degree – Avionics Technology
    Associate Degree – Information Systems Management
    Bachelor Degree – Information Systems Management
    Masters Degree – Information Systems Management
    30 Years Active Duty in USAF
    5 years USAF contractor
    5 Years USAF government civilian

    Todd Juehne -
    Education: Illinois State University.
    Bachelor of Science – Mathematics Major, Economics Minor
    Work: 25 plus years in the financial services industry which encompassed a broad range of duties and experiences.

    Sandra Padak
    Education Credentials are as follows:
    • Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from SIUE
    • Masters of Science Degree in Special Education from SIUE
    • Specialists Degree in Educational Leadership from SIUE
    • Post Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership with Superintendent Endorsement from University of Illinois

    Work background:
    • I have worked in the education field for over 20 years. I taught students with special needs for 12 years and have been a principal for 10 years at Triad School District.

    Randy Schorfheide -
    • Bachelor of Science in Marketing (Graduated May 1993, Southern Illinois University – Carbondale)
    • Master of Science in Education (Graduated December 2005, Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville)
    • I've held progressive management and leadership roles in marketing and communications in various health care, association, nonprofit and multi-media organizations.

    Tina Litteken -
    Western Illinois University
    I am currently a stay-at-home Mom, and was previously employed at Clean The Uniform Company in Highland IL

    Stacy Wellen - In 1994, I earned an associates degree in paralegal studies. I worked as a paralegal until 2000 when my daughter was born. In 2003 I earned my cosmetology license from Kaskaskia college. For the past 8 years I have worked at Ron's Barbershop in Mascoutah, along side my father, Ron Biver and my sister, Penny Leith. For the past three years, I have managed all finances pertaining to the barbershop.

    5. Please describe what school district or community activities or organizations you are currently involved with or have been involved with in the past.

    Jamie Brown - I am a lifetime member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary. I have been a cub scout leader for 2 years. Last year I coached soccer and t-ball.

    Matthew Fridley -
    • Volunteer youth basketball coach for 3rd-5th grade for past 4 years.
    • Volunteer youth baseball coach for past 4 years.
    • PSR Assistant Coordinator for St. George Church for past seven years.

    Shelly Hoerchler - I am the treasurer for the Wesclin Middle School Booster Club and I am a volunteer coach for girls' basketball and softball teams within the communities.

    Kent Jeanneret - I am presently a member of the Wesclin school board. While my children were in school I was an active member of the Wesclin Athletic Boosters and the Soccer Athletic Boosters.

    Todd Juehne - Over the years I have been involved with many different community activities and or organizations that have included but are not limited to, Knights of Columbus member, Chamber member, Park Booster member, Bank Board member, and Planning Committee member.

    Sandra Padak - I have always been a strong supporter of education through a variety of activities:
    • I have served on the Wesclin School Board for 12 years. During this time I have been a member of the Illinois Association of School Boards.
    • When my son was younger, I participated in the PTG and volunteered for many of their events. I also am a member of the Troy PTO where I work.
    • During the time I was a special education teacher; I was a member of the Triad Education Association and served as a building representative for many years.
    • As a principal, I am a member of the Illinois Principal Association and Illinois Association of School Administrators.

    Randy Schorfheide -
    • Volunteer at various PTO/school events and functions
    • Videographer for the Wesclin High School varsity soccer team
    • Volunteer coach and officer in the New Baden Athletic Boosters
    • Serve as an officer on the Board of Finance and Sunday School Teacher at my church

    Tina Litteken - Trenton Elementary PTG - Vice President
    Trenton Torpedoes Swim Team - President
    Kaskaskia Swim & Dive Team -- Executive Board - Vice President
    Trenton Park Board
    TrentonFest Committee Chair

    Stacy Wellen - Aside from attending school functions and fund raisers, I have not been involved in any community activities or organizations.

    6. Why are you interested in being a member of the Wesclin School Board?
    Jamie Brown - Because I am an active member of my community, I have a vested interest in becoming a member of the Wesclin School Board that stretches beyond the needs of my immediate family. I want to be a part of the decision-making process to help overcome some of the difficult times facing schools in the State of Illinois – not only for my own children's education, but also for the children of my friends and neighbors.
    Matthew Fridley - As a WESCLIN Alumni, and having two children in the district school system, I have a vested interest in the success of WESCLIN's future. There will be many tough decisions upcoming that will have a profound effect on the future of our school, and I believe I could provide a new perspective.
    Shelly Hoerchler - I am interested in the continued success of the school district.
    Kent Jeanneret - Wesclin is a good school district with a great reputation for academic excellence. I've been a member for eight years and wished to use that experience to maintain that academic excellence through the lean times the district is experiencing due to the State of Illinois cutting education funding the past several years.
    Todd Juehne - To gain a better understanding of Wesclin CUSD #3, as it relates to the four primary areas of: board governance, finance and real estate, personnel, and students. Also, to continue the good work of our board, to promote and expand the excellence of Wesclin CUSD #3 on behalf of all the children now and in the future.
    Sandra Padak - My passion has always been in the educational field. I feel fortunate to have a career where I am privileged to work every day and watch students learn and grow as individuals. Community service and doing what is best for students is why I decided to initially become a member of the Wesclin School Board. First and foremost, my goal is to support teachers enabling them to make sure students reach their full potential academically, socially, and emotionally. My agenda is students and ensuring they receive the tools they need to be effective members of our community.
    Randy Schorfheide - Since 2007, I have served 2 consecutive terms on the Wesclin Board of Education and have enjoyed being a part of helping build our district. Wesclin has a strong reputation as an academic leader and I take pride in serving this district.
    Tina Litteken - I am an active member of the community, and believe in participating in the growth and success of our youth. I am excited to promote positive change for the future of all current students and alumni of Wesclin Community Unit District #3
    Stacy Wellen - My decision to run for Wesclin School Board did not come lightly. Obviously, I want to see my children and the children of the community have the best possible public school available to them. The biggest factor, however, that made me interested in being on the school board, stemmed from the time when my husband, Kirk Wellen, was working as a custodian at Wesclin. I witnessed some wasteful spending and had I been on the board I would have voted against these expenditures. I would have tried to save some of our taxpayer's money to be used more appropriately.

    7. Please identify three personal characteristics or qualifications that you believe make you a good candidate for the Wesclin School Board.

    Jamie Brown - I have experience looking at the many facets of education from two distinctive viewpoints, as both a parent and a teacher, and I am able to bring a unique perspective that will add value to the organization. I pride myself on my strong morals and values, and will bring that same level of integrity to the table every time. I have a desire to do what is right for our students, whether those choices are fully understood and popular, or not. Finally, I have a strength in character that will allow me to communicate my thoughts and beliefs, or the thoughts and beliefs of the board, and defend them when necessary.

    Matthew Fridley - Leadership, Forward-thinking, Trustworthy

    Shelly Hoerchler - Motivated, Leadership, Open-minded

    Kent Jeanneret -
    • I do not have any personal agendas for being a board member which can cause issues on a school board.
    • I have eight years of experience so I understand the issues facing Illinois schools including the big one of lack of funding from the State of Illinois.
    • I am easy to work with and work to have all the facts of an issue in order to provide a well thought out vote to any issue.

    Todd Juehne - I am a person who: 1) Is a good financial steward, 2) Has the ability to communicate with and work well with others, 3) Is willing to compromise.

    Sandra Padak -
    • I am an individual with integrity who values education. I take the time to analyze and problem solve before making important decisions which would affect the district. My priority has been and will always be students. Furthermore, I understand as an educator the importance of getting the necessary supports and resources so that students are successful in the classroom.
    • My background experience in education gives me a strong knowledge base to understand the challenges in the educational field. I consider myself a lifelong learning and always strive to learn and grow as an educator. I also have several educational degrees which have kept me current with best instructional practices. Having the benefit of working for a school district which is innovative and strives to meet all students' needs using a variety of research based methodology gives me first hand experiences. Additionally, I have experience as a veteran board member for 12 years and understand the history of the district. As a board member, I have experience with developing a vision and goals for the district. I have had the opportunity to be part of Superintendent hiring process three times. Hiring a Superintendent with strong leadership skills is one of the most important jobs a board is required to do.
    • I have perspective in several areas as I am a parent, teacher, administrator, and board member. Understanding all of these perspectives, helps me make decisions in a matter that considers everyone who is involved.

    Randy Schorfheide -
    • Honesty
    • Knowledge of how school districts function including school law and finance
    • Dedication to what is best for the students

    Tina Litteken -
    • I actively communicate with many parents, students, and members of the community. I believe my communication skills are an asset to families, students, and staff members as a voice of representation on the School Board.
    • I actively volunteer in many community organizations and groups, and am willing to do the same as a school board member. This participation provides me with an active role within the community, and allows me to freely communicate with staff, students, taxpayers and parents.
    • I possess leadership skills that enable me to not only represent the community, but also allow me to take action to promote positive outcomes.

    Stacy Wellen - I feel that a school should be run like a business. I have helped run a very successful business and feel that I will be able to make the hard financial decisions. Secondly, I want the best education possible for my children and the children of our community, so every vote that I make will also have the children of our community's education in mind. Finally, I feel that I have common sense and am a very logical thinker. These qualities are important to be able to know the difference between what we want versus what is best for our community financially.

    8. Please identify three strengths you see in the Wesclin School District.

    Jamie Brown - There are many strengths in the Wesclin school district. First, I would identify our dedicated staff. The teachers and support staff always give the students their best. Second, I would identify our supportive community. We have parents and a community who have a strong desire to participate and I would enjoy the opportunity to help them understand how. Finally, I would identify our students. Our kids all have unique skills and talents and it is our job to help each of them excel.

    Matthew Fridley - Students, Administration/Teachers and Parents

    Shelly Hoerchler- District is known for success.
    Solid community framework of families. District is based in a safe community.

    Kent Jeanneret -
    1. The current members of the board all have Wesclin's overall best interests at heart and work well together which makes facing the issues much easier.
    2. The superintendent, principals, and staff work well together with Wesclin as their focus versus having factions that focus on one town over the other; the focus is on Wesclin as a whole.
    3. Wesclin's past and present school boards and administrations have maintained Wesclin's frugal use of funding that allows it be a top school in the state for the least amount of money spent per student but still maintain its rating as an academic top school in the state.

    Todd Juehne - Three strengths I see in the Wesclin School District are: 1) Dedicated and high-quality teachers, 2) A rigorous and quality curriculum, 3) A high level of parent and community support.

    Sandra Padak - Wesclin has many great attributes and strengths which have made it the district I want my son to continue and attend.
    • Quality staff that are committed to excellence.
    • Strong community support.
    • Exceptional leadership from the current Superintendent.

    Randy Schorfheide -
    • Positive role models in District staff
    • Strong curriculum and preparation of our students
    • Post-secondary academic success of Wesclin graduates

    Tina Litteken - Wesclin has a very large amount of community participation from parents, staff, alumni, and students. We are privileged to have a large support from volunteers, and local businesses.
    Our Staff. Wesclin Staff and Teachers take a very active role in the success and growth of not only our school district, but our youth. Many staff members also coach or lead our athletic and academic teams after their "work day" is through. They serve as mentors for our students and community.
    Our facilities. With the recent construction of our High School, Wesclin is a prime candidate for attracting new students/families to our community. The gym and athletic facilities are key in attracting special events in our area that enhance not only our school, but our community.

    Stacy Wellen - I am very proud of the Wesclin School District. I am proud to say that my children attend Wesclin. For being as small of a school as Wesclin is, we have very competitive sports teams, a wonderful band, and a great educational system. We are also very lucky that our community selflessly supports our School District and the education of our children.

    9. Please identify three problems that you see facing the Wesclin School District in the next four years. How would you propose to solve each of these problems?

    Jamie Brown - The biggest problem that I see currently facing our district is our budget. Illinois schools are being asked to do more, but we are constantly facing lack of funding from the State. I do not believe there is a quick fix to this problem. We need to be creative. We need to talk to other districts and find out what is working for them. We need to make these budget issues understandable for our communities and work as a team to accomplish our task—providing a competitive education for our children.

    Matthew Fridley -
    a. There are many concerns that the WESCLIN school district will be facing in the next four years, but financing the district I think will continue to be the greatest challenge (main focus). How will that be resolved? The obvious answer the state legislators will suggest is to raise taxes: income tax, property tax and personal use tax. Are there other avenues of generating funds or reducing expenditures? Where else do we look? Before raising taxes, we should look at expenses. I am confident our current board and administration have explored expenditures, and where feasible cut costs. I feel additional cuts in the education fund may adversely affect student learning. However, a different set of eyes may uncover missed savings. If elected, I'm willing to take a fresh look and make hard choices and/or additional cuts where needed.
    b. Our public schools have a massive image problem, and what we need is a really good PR campaign to change that image from one that is currently demoralizing and crippling the profession, to one that strengthens public confidence and lifts up educators. Ask yourself why there is a 'good' teacher shortage? We make it difficult to recruit and retain 'good' teachers because we are always condemning the public schools. The first words from a politician are, "We are going to fix the school system." I contend it isn't broke. All the politicians have to do is send our tax dollars back to us to fund our schools. I've found that if you tell people long enough how bad things are, they begin to believe it, whether it is true or not. In the political world, the first 'lie' wins. Let me go on record, "Public schools, for the most part are, well run businesses of educating our children." For example, our teaching staff takes everyone that shows up at the door and welcomes them. They can be those rejected by private schools or those no one else can deal with. Our public schools accept everyone, and do deal with them. We have wonderful educators. We need to say so, and support them. I recall as a child, when I was disciplined at school, my parents supported me through positive corrective action, and supported the school for taking a stand. In my house the teacher was always right. We should better prepare educators to act as ambassadors for themselves, their classrooms, their campuses, their districts, and their profession. After all, educators put out fires and save lives in our schools every single day, and it's time they received the recognition and admiration they have earned.
    c. Student attitudes/Bullying. On the street, I hear about bullying in some of our district buildings. Research indicates student perception about their school is a driver of their attitudes which can contribute to bullying. It is important for schools to conduct self-assessments to determine the prevalence of bullying in each building. Bullying today has taken on a whole new meaning from just ten to fifteen years ago. The use of electronic media allows the bullying to follow the student home. Home is where you used to feel safe. We need to ensure all students understand the negative effects of bullying. We need to inform and then follow-up with parents and students individually. We must firmly educate that bullying will not be tolerated in our schools or community. Teachers need to be empowered to intervene and deal with bullying on the spot.

    Shelly Hoerchler - I would imagine the district probably has more than 3 problems they will be facing in the next four years – problems they may not even be aware of yet; however, one main concern would be the financial situation of the district. I don't think there is a simple solution. I would need more information and answers to questions before I could propose a solution for what is best for the district.

    Kent Jeanneret -
    1. Education funding will be the dominating issue to face Wesclin as long as the State of Illinois fails to fund education adequately. As I stated earlier, Wesclin is a top school in the state for spending the least amount to educate its students. There are three options the Wesclin community can take; cut expenses in the education fund to match the loss of revenue from the state, increase revenues locally to match the loss of revenues from the state, or, a combination of cutting expenses and increasing revenues. None of these options are attractive and will require buy-in from the local community. I want to see the community have the same information the Wesclin school board has in determining the way forward. I would like to see a series of articles in the local papers providing this information so the Wesclin community has the same information the Wesclin school board has. I do not anticipate the decisions to be easy or without pain, but the Wesclin community will have the facts to provide informed input to the board. I would like to challenge the Wesclin community to be more involved with the district; ask questions, seek out the facts, attend board meetings, etc. We are all in this together and it will take all of us to find the solutions.
    2. Providing satisfactorily pay for our dedicated teachers and staff. They have been very affected by the issue above over the past several years. The resolution will be tied to the solution to the above issue.
    3. Maintaining the high academic performance reputation that Wesclin is known for. Maintaining this reputation is, again, tied to the resolution of the above financial issue.

    Todd Juehne - Funding, security and safety, and technology. As a board member, I would expand the budget process to address potential problems or future projects facing the district. In addition, I would build a grassroots effort that would invite all stakeholders in the community to take part in planning for these issues.

    Sandra Padak -
    • The biggest challenge facing Wesclin and other districts in Illinois is the lack of state funding. The past several years state funding has been prorated and we have not received all the categorical money promised by the state. While the state has been negligent and not balanced their budget, Wesclin and other districts are expected to have a balance budget and maintain a positive fund balance. With revenue sources being cut back by the state and expenditures increasing, Wesclin is facing some challenging fiscal times. The only way to solve the problem is to find a way to increase revenue and/or cut expenditures. My answer to question 14 discusses revenue increases.
    • While the state has not done its job with funding, it continues to create more mandates for the district. Many of these mandates do not have funding that comes with them which creates an enormous challenge. Examples of some mandates include The New Illinois Learning Standards (Common Core) and new teacher evaluation system. Wesclin staff becoming more familiar with aligning curriculum with the Illinois Learning Standards, as well as, implementation of the new Danielson Teacher Evaluation will require a great deal of professional development and strong instructional leadership.

    Randy Schorfheide -
    • Finances – revenue generation through fundraising and grants.
    • Growing special education programs to meet the needs of the students – continuing to maintain training of special education staff and keeping classroom size small
    • Keeping pace with the ever-increasing demand of technology to support the learning environment – finding cost-effective solutions and sources of funds to purchase equipment and training of staff.

    Tina Litteken -
    State and Federal Funding. This is an area that I will openly admit is quite trivial to me. I suspect that it is trivial to many in our community.
    Budget shortfalls. Due to lack of funding, our budget will face many shortfalls. There is no doubt that cuts are necessary, and I hope to ensure these cuts are in areas that make the most sense.

    Stacy Wellen - Obviously the main concern over the next few years is the financing. The state of Illinois is in dire straits and is not giving the schools the funding that they are needing to run properly. I am afraid that as time goes on, the state is going to continue to cut funding. Unfortunately, this is a concern of all schools and there is no clear cut answer. I do not want to see my taxes raised, just as most people do not. The only option I see would be to cut all unnecessary spending.

    10. How do you believe school board members should interact with the Superintendent, Principals and teachers/staff to gain information about our schools?
    Jamie Brown - Communication between school board members and staff should be open and productive. I would welcome any and all communication. All parents should be present at school functions and active in the school community in order to know and understand what is happening in our schools. This applies even more to school board members.
    Matthew Fridley - This has to be a team approach, with everyone on the same page pulling in the same direction. We cannot work in silos and not communicate. Everything has to be as transparent as possible. The school board hires the superintendent, administrators, and professional staff. The board sets the policies and goals for the future. The superintendent establishes the means (direction, funding and support) to the administration and staff to accomplish the elected board's policies. At the forefront, the superintendent is the professional who advises the board and is the educational leader in our community. I think the board member has to be cognizant of what is going on not only in the board room, but aware of what is happening throughout the district.
    Meanwhile, the board member should never be so intrusive as to interfere with the day to day operation of the district. The board member functions in the school board room, and through the superintendent. However, to be an effective representative, they must be informed and aware so issues can be addressed by the board member. Just as with any other team there has to be trust and integrity in the system, otherwise, the organization will fail. The bottom-line, if you aren't on the school board to represent the students and faculty, you are on it for the wrong reason.
    Shelly Hoerchler - I feel a school board member should be an active participant and use a collaborative approach with school administration and staff to come up with solutions that are best for the district.
    Kent Jeanneret - Normally, board members bring questions to the Superintendent to get answers to the operations of the schools. However, if a board member is also a parent of student attending one of the schools, then the board member could certainly approach the appropriate staff as a parent.
    Todd Juehne - As a board member I would try to create a working relationship based on mutual respect, collegiality, and a joint commitment to promote student success.
    Sandra Padak - In my experience the best way to gain information about the district is to be present at events and listen to students, parents, teachers, and other community member's perspectives. As a board member, building principals and the superintendent provide monthly reports about events and activities going on in their buildings or in the district. The Wesclin website provides information as well.
    Randy Schorfheide - Two-way open communication via e-mail, phone, and face-to-face interaction on a regular basis.
    Tina Litteken - I believe there should be an open line of communication, in addition to active participation by all parties. I think staff should be able to freely address the board with questions/concerns without any fear of repercussions.
    Stacy Wellen - Open discussions between all board members, Superintendent, Principals, teacher/staff and parents should be on a constant basis. Transparency of funds and why and how these funds are being spent is also of the utmost importance to the tax payers.

    11. How would you handle any class overcrowding at specific grade levels or buildings in the school district?
    Jamie Brown - If there was overcrowding at a specific grade level or building, some very hard decisions would have to be made. The comfort and educational impact must be weighed against the emotional upheaval of changing rooms/teachers/buildings mid year. Any decisions that are made must be explained in depth to parents and would rely heavily on budget constraints.
    Matthew Fridley - As I am not currently on the school board, I am not privileged to all of the required information to make an educated comment. Overcrowding does have a direct impact on the quality of education for our students, and it must been addressed. I think the consolidation of the fourth through eighth grades in the middle school does allow the administration more opportunities to balance class size. Bottom line, each situation must be dealt with on case by case basis.
    Shelly Hoerchler - If overcrowding becomes an issue within the district, then I will have to see what options the district has to figure out what is the best way for the district to handle it.
    Kent Jeanneret - With the new high school building and the move of the 4th-6th grades to the WMS the only possible overcrowding could possibly come from one of the two elementary schools. I would wait for that issue to come up to address it at that time with the pertinent facts versus discussing various hypothetical scenarios.
    Todd Juehne - As a board member, I would utilize a problem solving process that would incorporate a structure to follow to make sure nothing is overlooked. This process would include: problem definition, problem analysis, solutions, analyzing solutions, selecting solutions, and finally planning the course of action.
    Sandra Padak - Ideally, it would be great if class size would be small so that student/teacher ratio is low. However, the reality is sometimes there are larger numbers at specific grade levels or buildings. This is an area which would need to be investigated and balance what is best for students while remaining fiscally responsible.
    Randy Schorfheide - School board members must first consider recommendations from administration - based on needs of students, building space, finances, staffing, and classroom issues.
    Tina Litteken - I believe large class sizes adversely affect education. Particularly in grades K-5. I think class size should be evaluated on an individual class basis, with a target of no class exceeding 25
    Stacy Wellen - Considering the fact that we just build a new high school to eliminate the crowding in the buildings, I would hope that this would no longer be an issue. As far as crowding on specific grade levels, it is obvious that the smaller class size, the better the education will be for the students. Unfortunately, most times, in order to lower class sizes, there needs to be additional classes added. Adding additional classes may mean hiring more teachers and with the current financial crises that we are in, that may not be feasible. We would need to consider each situation, class size, etc. before making that decision and make that determination on a class by class basis.

    12. What is your position regarding implementation of tutoring or summer school programs for district students who are not meeting current state standards at their grade level?
    Jamie Brown - Tutoring and/or summer school is another concept that would rely heavily on budget. Grants or tuition paid by parents are options that could be researched. Unfortunately, in our small community, there are not many options for academic enrichment or remediation.
    Matthew Fridley - Again, without all of the information in front of me, it would be irresponsible to take a firm position on this question. I am aware other communities have partnered with outside organizations, the YMCA is one example, who have a recognized after school programs. That is something that can be explored. My focus would be on working with the teachers and administration looking for ways to provide the highest quality education for our students during the established school year. For now, catching students early who are falling behind and offering them the opportunity to catch up makes sense.
    Shelly Hoerchler - At this point, I really don't have a position. I have many questions that I would need answered and taken into consideration in order to make that decision.
    Kent Jeanneret - It would depend upon the situation; how many students, what levels, what classes, etc. Every student should have the chance to succeed so there may be other ways to achieve that goal and all options should be looked at.
    Todd Juehne - I am in favor of implementation of tutoring or summer school programs for students who are not meeting current state standards.
    Sandra Padak - I think it is important to not just look at a summer program for students who are at-risk or struggling after they have already failed. Any student who is identified as at risk in the school setting should be followed and progressed monitored through the RtI process (Response to Intervention). This would allow any at-risk student to have assistance/strategies to help them throughout the school year; subsequently, the school is proactive and doesn't wait for them to fail before offering support.
    Randy Schorfheide - Tutoring, summer school, or enrichment summer camps are potential ways to grow academic achievement. Some schools in the area are utilizing grant money or partnering with community organizations to fund and staff such programs. WSD could look into similar programs.
    Tina Litteken - I would be in favor of supporting it.
    Stacy Wellen - I would love to see Wesclin set up some summer school programs, especially at the high school level. One of the most disappointing things I found when my daughter entered high school was the fact that there were many classes she wanted to take but was only allowed two electives. With the new requirement that band students are forced to take P.E., this leaves them with only one elective class to take. If summer school was offered, the students would have the opportunity to get all of the classes they want to take. Mascoutah school district offers some summer school classes, such as P.E., which gives the students the opportunity to take more educational classes during the school year. Unfortunately, this is yet another additional expense that is most likely not within the budget.
    With concern to tutoring of the students who are not meeting current state standards, I believe that there are after-school homework programs and tutoring currently available to the students of Wesclin. Tutoring is one of those things that, hopefully, we could find teachers living in the Wesclin school district (not just those teaching in our the district) that could volunteer their time to help with tutoring, so that it does not cause additional expenses to the district.

    13. State finances and the laws regarding educational funding are a large part of operating any school district. What is your current knowledge of Illinois school finance laws and how would you become more knowledgeable and proactive regarding state funding for the Wesclin School District as a school board member?
    Jamie Brown - My knowledge of school finance law is limited, although I look forward to learning much more about this if elected. I welcome any recommendations or suggestions for becoming more knowledgeable on this topic. As I mentioned earlier, I think we need to talk to other similar districts and share ideas. I am willing to attend classes or workshops to learn more.
    Matthew Fridley - While my experience is limited regarding laws for education funding, I have many years of experience managing multi-million dollar contracts and projects, all of which have been completed on time and on budget. In order to become more familiar with the state laws, there are many resources. For example, the Illinois State Board of Education web site, mandated and required training for new board members, as well as the wealth of knowledge within our district administration and teachers.
    Shelly Hoerchler - I know that the state finances are a large part of the funding for the school district. I also know that over the past few years, the finances from the state have not been what they were in the past. In order to increase my knowledge with the school finance laws, I would use all resources available to keep up with the ever changing laws of Illinois.
    Kent Jeanneret - Illinois is in the bottom three states in providing funding for its schools, hence, the reliance on local property taxes. So when the state reduces its funding or skips payments to the school districts, the districts have to make painful decisions. As for becoming informed, the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) has many training resources for school board members.
    Todd Juehne - My knowledge of Illinois School Law is limited. As to the second part of the question, I would attend training that may be provided as a board member and I would be diligent about attending work sessions and board meetings and seek out other sources of information to expand my knowledge and educate myself about our district.
    Sandra Padak - I have extensive knowledge of school funding because of my educational and work background history. School funding and the understanding of its intricacies requires extensive knowledge of the funding formula, state laws, and regulations. I continue to follow the Illinois State Board of Education Updates, attend trainings and workshops, and keep up with current legislation which could impact school funding.
    Randy Schorfheide - Due to my years of service on the WSD school board, I have been able to attend seminars/workshops/training sessions on school finance. I will continue to take advantage of such opportunities. In addition, my wife has an education administration degree so I can utilize her knowledge and experience to gain additional insight and perspective.
    Tina Litteken - As I previously stated, I do not consider myself well-versed in this subject, but would be willing to attend any course, seminar, or other training needed in order to gain a better understanding on this issue. I'm willing to take the necessary steps to gain any knowledge that could benefit Wesclin School District.
    Stacy Wellen - I honestly do not have much knowledge regarding Illinois school finance laws. I am more than willing to take any classes or seminars that are available to further my education on this.

    14. What are your ideas for generating revenue to meet the current budget needs of the school district?
    Jamie Brown - In order to generate more revenue, we need to continue educating parents and community members on the current budgetary needs vs. the current restrictions. If the public is more informed, they would be more accepting of the changes that may need to happen, and possibly more willing to participate in fundraising opportunities. Fee increases or changes in extracurricular activities may not be popular but would be better understood as a necessity.
    Matthew Fridley - Generating revenue to meet current budget needs is not only a challenge for our district, it is also a daily challenge in the corporate world. I would share some of the positive experiences that I have been part of in the business world. I would work with my school board team to generate ideas about not only balancing the budget, but to generate future revenue appropriate to our school district's needs.
    Shelly Hoerchler - I have thoughts/ideas/suggestions, but until I am able to see the budget and get questions answered, I can't really give any solutions to generating more revenue.
    Kent Jeanneret - Unless the state returns to fully funding education, which they haven't for several years, there aren't many options for raising enough revenues to offset the shortfall Wesclin is experiencing. Two options that quickly come to mind is to have the county provide a .5 cent sales tax increase on certain goods which is then shared among the county school districts based upon the size of the school district or raising property taxes. Neither of these options is very attractive.
    Todd Juehne - As a board member, I would gather ideas from the community and or all stakeholders within the district or outside the district and group those ideas into two categories; revenue generating or expenditure cutting. Then I would review and evaluate the ideas and provide an evaluation of these ideas in preparation for the next school budget.
    Sandra Padak - It will be essential to continue to educate community members and educators to understand how school funding comes from 3 main sources (federal, state, and local). Wesclin and other area districts are having fiscal issues primarily due to the State of Illinois prorating funds the past 4 years. It is important for everyone to understand the root of the problem which is not receiving state funds as promised. Encourage members of the community to contact legislators and demand they fund schools as promised. If the federal and state funding does not come through, consideration may have to be left to the local community to decide what kind of school district they want for their children.
    Randy Schorfheide - No one is in favor of paying more fees or taxes. Options are continuing to support administration and staff in writing grant proposals, consider the most effective ways of budgeting without decreasing student learning, and continue to contact elected officials to persuade them to provide more funding for schools. Support and encourage district-approved fundraising programs and events.
    Tina Litteken - I would be interested in exploring the idea of tuition-based Pre-K for our district. This would NOT eliminate our grant-funded Pre-K, or Parents As Teachers.
    Stacy Wellen - Sadly, there are two options that I see...cut spending and/or raise taxes. I do not want to raise taxes so the first thing we need to do is make sure that every penny we spend is completely necessary and cut as much as we can that is not.

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