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Election 2013: Richard Fitzgerald

Richard Fitzgerald is one of five candidates running for three open seats on the Community Consolidated School District 181 Board of Education.

Name: Richard Fitzgerald

Position sought: Community Consolidated School District 181 Board of Education 

Email address: fitzgerald4d181@gmail.com

Residence: Burr Ridge 

Family: Wife Julie; daughters Maura, 9, and Amelia, 6. 

Education: Benet Academy; Bachelor's degree from Marquette University. 

Occupation: Commodity trader

Years in District 181: 7

Previous elected offices: None

Applicable experience qualifying you for the position:

  • VP of Development – Ronald McDonald House at Loyola University 1998-2001
  • Member Elm School PTO Finance committee 2011-2012
  • Hinsdale Swim Club Meet Director 2012-2013

What is the primary reason you are running for this office?

I believe that each elementary school, as well as, each community should be represented on the board.  I fill the role of both Burr Ridge resident and Elm School parent.

What will be your single most important priority if you get elected?

To oversee the implementation of the Common Core curriculum and to ensure that all of our children are afforded the opportunity to reach their full potential while they are students in D181. 

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Motivation, perseverance and drive.  I am the only candidate that is neither an incumbent nor selected by the caucus in this election.  Without the advantages of either of those forms of support, I went out and put together an election team to help run my own independent campaign.

What do you believe is District 181’s biggest strength?

The biggest strength of the district is the combination of parents and the community as a whole.  We are incredibly fortunate to live in an area where a great majority of the homes have two college educated parents who are thoroughly involved with their children and who are committed to seeing them excel, both inside and outside the classroom.

We also have wonderful teachers and support staff.  They too are involved with our children on a daily basis. It is obvious in conversations with them, that they are highly motivated, take their roles as educators very seriously and want the best classroom environment and experience for our children.

What do you believe is District 181’s biggest weakness?

In my conversations with Dr. Schuster, she and I have agreed that the biggest weakness in the district is technology.  More specifically, bandwidth, which is the connection speed between the computer and the Internet.  With more and more students and teachers accessing the Internet on a daily basis, and the plans to incorporate more technology into the curriculum, we must make sure that time is not being wasted waiting for pages to load or files to be downloaded.

Do you support the district’s approach to curriculum changes since the January 2012 report by gifted program consultant Dr. Tonya Moon? Why or why not?

I applaud the district for taking a pro-active approach to the implementation of the Common Core.  They could have waited until the 2015-2016 school year and then purchased an “off the shelf” program, but instead, our district got ahead of the curve and has been taking the best pieces from multiple programs to formulate the strongest curricula for our students.  This has been a challenge for the administration and our teachers, but as I’ve stated before, our teachers are of the highest caliber and I believe can handle the challenges of the new curriculum.

Do you support continuing the @d181 Initiative? What is your stance on iPads in the classroom?

I support the concept of a successful @d181 Initiative, but at this time the teachers need to focus their attention on the implementation of the new curriculum.  I believe that there has not been enough research into the effectiveness of iPads in the classroom.  I encourage the administration to take one step at a time: Common Core first, followed by the incorporation of the right technology for the students.

In terms of a school district, how would you describe a board that is fiscally responsible? Does District 181 currently have a fiscally responsible board?

I would describe a fiscally responsible board as one that evaluates the district budget and ensures that the greatest portion of that budget is being spent for in-classroom expenses.

I believe that the current board is fiscally responsible and has been doing a good job in trimming back the non-classroom expenditures, but there is room to trim more.  In the last two years, they negotiated a fair contract with both the teachers and the administration and I am confident that the current board is taking the right steps to try to bring costs down and keep the budget under control, while preserving the excellence of the education in D181.

Related pages:

  • Election 2013: District 181 Board of Education
  • Jill Vorobiev
  • Gary Clarin
  • Mridu Garg
  • Sarah Lewensohn

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