Election 2013: Claudia Manley
Claudia Manley is one of eight candidates running for the District 86 Board of Education in the 2013 election.
Name: Claudia D. Manley
Position sought: Hinsdale Township High School District 86 Board of Education
Email address: email@example.com
Family: Husband Noel Manley; daughters Claire, 18, and Amelia, 15
Education: Bachelor's degree in political science from Illinois State University, law degree from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
Occupation: 20 years of experience as a practicing attorney specializing in the field of labor and employment law
Years in District 86: 17
Political party affiliation: Republican, though this race is unaffiliated
Previous elected offices: Elected in 2009 as a board of education member for Darien Public School District #61. Appointed to serve on Darien District #61’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee, Darien District #61 Consolidation Study Committee, Mayor’s Darien Committee on Intergovernmental Cooperation, Liaison Legislation Education Network of DuPage County (LEND).
Applicable experience qualifying you for the position: Elected in 2009 for the privilege of serving as a board of education member for Darien Public School District 61. Serve on policy, education and technology committees. I have earned the distinction of master board member from the Illinois Association of School Boards and have served for District 61 in the House of Delegates, Illinois Association of School Boards two years running. This experience will allow me allow me to acclimate quickly to the District 86 Board of Education.
My background in labor and employment law sets me apart from all other candidates in this race. I possess 20 years of experience in this field and have mentored many law students in this field as well. This background has served me well and I believe has been an asset to me in serving on the District 61 Board of Education. This background allows me to bring knowledge and background to the board table. Many decisions faced by the Board involve labor and employment laws which govern the workplace. I am able to understand and analyze these issues in an objective professional manner.
My labor and employment background would further allow me to bring developed listening skills, negotiation and mediation skills to the board table allowing dignified communication to occur on a professional level, while still airing all sides of an issue. I offer the District 86 community solid analytical abilities, a deep determination to facilitate and support excellence in public education, as well a no-nonsense approach, boundless energy and passion for education.
As the parent of two daughters, one a graduate and one currently attending District 86, I have an understanding of how the district currently operates from a parent and student perspective. Having my daughters experience District 86 as students and as participants in extra-curricular activities that run the gamut from sports to fine arts, places me in a position of understanding the culture and traditions of our district.
What is the primary reason you are running for this office?
As the daughter of a widowed mother who raised three very young children from ages 4, 6 and 8 to adulthood on her own without the benefit of higher education, the lesson taught in my home while growing up was to be the best you can be, achieve through education and work hard. I believe I have personified and achieved those goals she set through my never ending work ethic. I am eager to serve in this office to make certain all students, of varying abilities, backgrounds and interests have an opportunity to achieve and to be the best they can be. I, myself, serve as a role model who demonstrates achievement through education and hard work.
What will be your single most important priority if you get elected?
The most important priority, if honored to be elected, will be to revitalize the importance of the board through increased community collaboration. It would be a priority of mine to reactivate and energize the committee structure by establishing roles for community and staff. Many boards of education have utilized this philosophy and have been very successful in executing on this goal. This philosophy achieves buy-in from the community which in turn bolsters support for the district, its students and staff. If elected to serve, I will strive to always know what our community thinks at all times and will listen eagerly and attentively on issues presented to the board. I envision creating some new committees and foresee tapping into one of our greatest strengths, our community. I foresee our community sitting alongside the board to share their expertise in various areas on these committees. I would also like to revitalize the board through intergovernmental cooperation in working with the various public entities in the area and improving cooperation with the feeder schools to make certain the students are high school ready.
What sets you apart from the other candidates?
Given my personal background, I am passionate in my belief that education is the key to everyone’s destiny. I have found that doing what is just, right and equitable best serves this interest even when a decision is difficult or perhaps even unpopular. I do not nor will I assume that I have all of the answers to the issues a board may face. When I do not have an answer and in order to respond to an issue such as this I will participate to my fullest asking questions and seeking answers to gain an understanding regarding an issue and then casting a thoughtful knowing vote on this basis. Additionally, my background as a labor and employment attorney with 20+ years of experience also sets me apart from the others. I am a planner and always look ahead on topics of import that effect the schools having been known to request reports on topics such as the effects on the school of the Affordable Care Act.
What do you believe is District 86’s biggest strength?
I believe that the biggest strength of District 86 lies in our community itself. My definition of community includes equally our citizens, taxpayers, parents, teachers, staff, students and volunteers (e.g., PTO, booster, student clubs, sporting teams, academic teams, etc.). Together all of these groups form the foundation for the education our students receive at District 86.
What do you believe is District 86’s biggest weakness?
I believe that the board’s level of collaboration and accountability to our community is less than desired as is the level of collaboration the current board has amongst each other and requires improvement. This hinders the board’s ability to plan for long term financial sustainability and hinders the board from effectuating the important task of policy making. Smart spending, along with reviewing/revamping the budgeting process and policy setting process would be some goals that I would strive to fulfill if elected. To achieve this goal, I hope to revitalize the committee structure allowing board members with expertise in certain areas to use that expertise on a committee. Also, I foresee community members sitting on these committees to draw some advice from those who have an expertise or interest in these topics. Our community is rich in skill, volunteer spirit and has a strong desire to continue the tradition of educational excellence at District 86. I believe that this process may prove to be difficult at times but that it will lead to long term educational and fiscal sustainability for our community.
Do you support the district’s ruling in favor of Hinsdale South staff on a parent’s curriculum objection last year of the showing of American Beauty and Brokeback Mountain? Do such movies have a place in high school classrooms?
The board is ultimately responsible for curriculum. The board majority chose not to decide this matter on the merits. In cases such as this, it is important that our board members are guided by the values that are reflected in our community, and that they be guided through a deeper understanding of these issues and be able to reach consensus on an issue of such importance. I would like to have seen consideration of the Teaching About Controversial Issues Policy as well as allowing the parent involved to participate at the board level review.
In terms of a school district, how would you describe a board that is fiscally responsible? Does District 86 currently have a fiscally responsible board?
First, to explain my view I must state that fiscal responsibility is NOT large budget cuts to student educational programs or activities. Fiscal responsibility relates to well informed transparent decision making for the well being of the students, staff, community and taxpayers while protecting the financial assets of District 86 as best as possible. Members have an important ethical and moral obligation to manage and account for school district funds, especially for the benefit of the students. I believe our community can get more for its money through utilization of proper budget setting priorities, standards for budget preparation and protection of assets, purchasing, prudent project management on capital projects and related business activities. The school district receives and expends large amounts of public money and the Board is accountable for all of it. I would carefully consider the tax levy and how best to achieve budget priorities while acknowledging decreasing home values, foreclosures, short sales and the difficult financial times our families are experiencing as a result of the economy. Monies spent on no bid contracts without evaluation of the benefit of that expenditure is less money spent in the classroom, the District 86 taxpayer deserves transparency on financial issues and objective evaluation of expenditures.