Elect Ed.D. Shirley DeCorte for Naperville 203 School Board 2017

Welcome to Elect Ed.D. Shirley DeCorte for Naperville 203 School Board 2017

Endorsements


image-placeholder

My background

My career has been in the education field for most of my adult life.  I have taught college classes, ninth grade math, third grade, kindergarten, and preschool.  I have worked in private and public education, as a teacher, curriculum director, reading tutor, ESL coordinator, Early Childhood Director, and administrator.  I will be retiring from a job I've loved as a principal of an elementary public school in Sandwich Illinois in June of 2017. 


I returned to Naperville in anticipation of my coming retirement a little over a year ago,  because it is a great community and because two of my grandchildren are here and attend Naperville 203 schools.  I've joined the Naperville League of Women Voters and the Naperville Senior Task Force. 

It would be an honor to serve our community as a Naperville District 203 school board member.

My Involvement: 

I've always believed strongly that I am lucky having meaningful work that I enjoy and that I should give back to my community by volunteering.  Over the years I've volunteered to lead scout activities, coach children's sport teams, teach Sunday school classes, serve on educational organizations boards of directors and helped with social service projects.  I believe we all reap what we sow.  With retirement coming up I think I will have time to devote to the important work of our school board, working to continue the excellence that Naperville 203 is known for not only in Naperville, but across the country. 

image-placeholder

Thoughts as a Candidate:

What role do you think the board of education should play?

As an educator, I have led and participated in many parent, school board, faculty, committee and municipal meetings. While I am seeking the voters trust to be elected as their school board member as an individual, if elected, I will become part of a team.   I do not have an agenda, I do have a robust passion for excellence in education.   I believe the two main areas of board responsibility are legislative and administrative. Legislative responsibilities include adopting and following policy.  Effective boards adopt policies that give direction to the superintendent and staff, enabling them to manage the district. Boards seek appropriate input in the development of policy, and after adoption should hold the superintendent and staff accountable for its implementation. The importance to the administration side of a board includes responsibilities such as approving and monitoring the budget, approving and monitoring district contracts, and hiring and evaluating the superintendent and appropriate staff. Effective board members refrain from trying to perform management functions that are the responsibility of the superintendent and staff. As board members, it is our responsibility to ensure that the schools operate well; but it is not our responsibility to run them.  Local school board membership is a public office and a public trust and members must swear an oath to uphold laws pertaining to public education. In today’s complex society regarding public education, effective board members should participate in professional development activities and commit the time and energy necessary to be informed and effective leaders.

What budget issues does  district 203 face?

District #203 is very fortunate to have a projected fund balance of over $167 million dollars by the end of FY ‘17. There are obviously sound funding and finance practices and methodologies in place. The preparation, adoption and action on the district’s budget is a yearly process involving the employees, administrators, the Board of Education, and input from the community.  It does not happen overnight. Needs are determined at the building level and conveyed by administrators to the District’s administrative Office and to the Board of Education. The District builds the budget based on the identified needs, revenue projections, and priorities of the Board. The spending of the district should be guided and prioritized by the goals and objectives of the Board; the types of programs being delivered; enrollment and staffing needs; requirements to maintain the district’s instructional centers; requirements imposed upon the district 2by the federal and state governments; and contractual agreements. Open and honest dialogue regarding the implementation and evaluation of current and/or future programs and services should be channeled through committee structure. At the moment I see no need for a tax increase or to cut programs or services currently offered to our stakeholders. While the State of Illinois has major financial obstacles to overcome, locally, District #203 is financially sound and in a position to continue to deliver a first class education to its students.


image-placeholder

Community Candidate Interview Snippets:

League of Women's Voters - Questions asked to Board of Education Candidates:

Bio: I am a mother of three wonderful adults, a grandmother of four even more wonderful grandchildren, a friend to a supportive social circle, and a busy professional woman who cares deeply about children's  educational experiences.  I've always believed strongly that I've been fortunate to have meaningful work that I enjoy and that I should give back to my community by volunteering. 

Given the challenges the District has faced when working through sensitive topics like reassigning attendance boundaries to address capacity concerns and population shifts, how would you seek input to make informed decisions on sensitive community issues? Community surveys and meetings to hear what people have to say are among the ways of getting some of the information.  It's also valuable to get one-on-one opinions from those who simply do not respond to surveys or meetings.  We should also be sure to seek the thoughts of people working on a daily basis with community members...

How might you suggest the District address the issues of under-performing schools? What considerations must be in place in order to properly evaluate an under-performing school? What factors do you believe to be of larger concern to an under-performing school? On a more macro scale, how might you suggest we reach and assist the academically challenged students district wide? I would recommend giving consideration to the following questions: Are socio-economic considerations a factor and what measures or interventions are being used in similar socio- economic communities to achieve higher performance standards?  Are parent outreach programs that help families support their children in place at those schools? Do the teachers in those schools have enough training to differentiate curriculum to meet the needs of all students?  Are struggling students being identified early enough to begin interventions before they fall too far behind? Are smaller classes needed in some schools?  Are Response to Intervention (RTI) measures in place and are they being delivered consistently?  There are many measures that can be taken to help struggling schools and students, and finding what works for individual students is key to helping schools reach high levels of performance with every student fulfilling his or her potential. I believe early identification of academically challenged students is important. We must ensure that teachers are trained to recognize these needs and know how to provide differentiated curriculum to support challenged students.  Putting interventions in place to support students such as RTI programs within the classroom can help children achieve at their potential.  Having supports but keeping children as part of the community is a goal I support.     While District 203 receives a small amount of funding from the State of Illinois, there are many factors that may contribute to additional or new pressures to the budget in the coming years, i.e. Pension Reform or Property Tax Freeze. What might you suggest to maintain a balanced budget? What repercussions / sacrifices do you see that have impact within the schools? What might you consider to be the most difficult change or changes that you would support in favor of keeping a balanced budget? 

District 203 is very fortunate to have a projected fund balance by the end of FY ‘17. There are obviously sound funding and finance practices and methodologies in place. The preparation, adoption and action on the district’s budget is a yearly process involving the employees, administrators, the Board of Education, and input from the community.  It does not happen overnight. Needs are determined at the building level and conveyed by administrators to the District’s Administrative Office and to the Board of Education. The District builds the budget based on the identified needs, revenue projections, and priorities of the Board.  The spending of the district should be guided and prioritized by the goals and objectives of the Board; the types of programs being delivered; enrollment and staffing needs; requirements to maintain the district’s instructional centers; requirements imposed upon the district by the federal and state governments; and contractual agreements. Open and honest dialogue regarding the implementation and evaluation of current and/or future programs and services should be channeled through committee structure. At the moment I see no need for a tax increase or to cut programs or services currently offered to our stakeholders. While the State of Illinois has major financial obstacles to overcome, locally, District #203 is financially sound and in a position to continue to deliver a first class education to its students.  At this time, I would need to gather more information to form an opinion on supporting possible changes.     There has been much discussion about stress and pressure felt by students, especially at the High School level, to achieve high grades while also participating in sports/clubs, volunteering and working part time. What does the District do, or should it do, to address the mental and emotional health of our students while ensuring their collegiate qualifications and high academic standing? 

Positive caring relationship-building between educational staff and students helps our students to be mentally healthy.  Good role models, open communication, active lives with choice among options for involvement in what interests them provide healthy emotional outlets.  Parent education and support programs on emotional health can help reduce stress.   Adults acting as role models while interacting with students at all ages is key to promoting healthy lifestyles.   Supporting students with mental health issues means there must be caring adults with well-developed relationships with students, adults who can recognize illness and will take steps to support these students within the school (all of the education community) and out of school. Training of professional staff to recognise problems is essential.  Helping students avoid stress and pressure has to be a part of the total education plan beginning in the primary grades by promoting healthy living, critical thinking skills, and responsible choice making.  Again, having many options for students to become involved and active in experiences that interest them is important.  It is critical to have activities that even introverts who do not seek out group activities will respond to.  Starting at a young age to promote a  “Healthy Living” attitude gives students a rationale for thinking for themselves and knowing the benefits of healthy living.   These two articles give more information:  https://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/healthy-students/toolkit_pg6.html http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/120/6/1379   

With the state mandate of Common Core, PARCC Assessments, Social Emotional requirements added to the District’s need and desire to remain globally competitive, what programs do we currently have in place you feel help create an advantage for our students? Are there programs for students that may be a better fit for our community, if so – what do you suggest? 

Naperville schools have so many programs at all levels that would create an advantage for any student, from the academically talented, special education services, to student leadership institute, that I know I am not aware of all the programs available for Naperville students.  At this time I am not aware of programs that may be a better fit but I do wonder if it would be beneficial to have PE on a daily basis in the elementary grades?  This is an area that I will definitely need to learn more about before making any suggestions.  


NACPAC Candidate Questionanire - 

Charitable, Volunteer Background:

I've always believed strongly that I've been fortunate to have meaningful work that I enjoy and that I should give back to my community by volunteering. 
Please briefly describe your professional experiences, both in the private sector and within the community.  What have these experiences taught you, how do they strengthen your viability as a candidate?
From my experience in the educational field in the private and public sector, I have come to believe that all people want the best for their children.  We may not always agree on what is best, but we all share the same desire to provide optimum experiences for our children.  Families understandably want their children to be successful, so helping parents reflect on what success means is one aspect of planning.  I have learned to listen to people, look for research on topics of interest, and learn from the community about what is needed and wanted.
You are running for office, if elected what do you think is the greatest public policy challenge you will face and how will you work to be a leader on the issue?
At this time it is difficult to pinpoint what the greatest public policy challenge will be over the next four years.  The shifting of costs from state to local governing bodies is one that will certainly affect how local taxing bodies will cover these costs fairly both to citizens and to the workers who have supported our educational systems.  Researching how other communities are handling this situation is one place to start.
Please describe in your words, if elected how you will provide support to the business community, job creators and entrepreneurs?
I believe a strong working relationship between schools, community, and commerce is good for everyone involved in education.  Commitment to an ongoing working dialog throughout our community will strengthen both the business community and our schools.  Listening to the business community, job creators, and entrepreneurs about what is needed to provide strong work candidates and involving that business community in the development of programs that help young people see what kind of work and career opportunities are available and being prepared for career once their education is completed is important to us.  I will solicit information and work to understand the needs of our business community.  Looking for ways to include the business community within our schools will be one of the areas that I want to pursue.  Naperville already strongly values our community business partners and contributors that work to transform learning experiences to enhance college and career readiness for students.  I will study what is already being done and look for additional resources to support ongoing programs.