Voters Guide: Homewood-Flossmoor School District 233

HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 233 BOARD CANDIDATES

4-year term (vote for 4)

Debbie Berman 
  Debbie Berman
 
Education:
A.B., Economics, summa cum laude with highest distinction, Brandeis University, 1987
 J.D., cum laude, The Harvard Law School, 1990
 
Occupation:
Equity partner at Jenner & Block LLP since 1998, associate at Jenner & Block from 1990-98. Co-chair of the firm's Complex Commercial Litigation, Trade Secrets and First Amendment and Media practices; member of the firm's management committee.
 
Family: 
Daughter is a 2017 graduate and son is now a junior at H-F. My family has been part of the H-F community for more than 50 years.
 
Incumbent: 
Yes, on the District 233 board for five years.
 
Other elected positions: 
I have been elected and appointed to philanthropic positions with international, national and metropolitan Chicago organizations during the past 30 years, including chair of the budget and finance subcommittee for Operational and Support Units of JAFI, a Jewish philanthropy; board member for Leadership Greater Chicago; elected board member of the Harvard Law Society of Illinois; board member, Anti Defamation League, Midwest Region.
 
Most important issues: 
The most important issue is how to continue to identify and provide effective academic and extracurricular opportunities so that each student can succeed at H-F and equally important post-H-F, given the uncertainty and pressures around public education funding. We have launched several important initiatives, including the International Baccalaureate program, Fine Arts MVP program/building expansion, enhanced culinary arts training, additional applied academics programs, an intensive curriculum review to ensure stronger alignment with learning goals and outcomes and implementing social-emotional supports for students. 
 
We have been able to do so because we have been fiscally prudent and planned ahead. Going forward, we will need to find creative solutions to ensure we are meeting students’ needs despite potentially less state resources.  
We need to work with state legislators to address the broken education funding model in Illinois that burdens local taxpayers. The property tax grant program we pushed our legislators for is a good first step, but we need more.
 
Goals: 
H-F is the crown jewel of our community so my goal is to continue setting policy and strategy to ensure that H-F not only maintains its stellar reputation, but is positioned to enhance and grow it. To achieve this goal, we not only should focus on the immediate issues facing the district, but we need to determine where we need to be in three or five years to remain competitive so that we can begin the planning now.  
 
It takes an extraordinary amount of resources (financial and time and effort) to launch new initiatives, such as the IB program or the Fine Arts Academy, so we need to plan ahead to ensure that we have those resources available.  
 
I chaired the academic achievement portion of the recent strategic planning exercise and have served on the Planning Committee for five years so I am particularly well positioned to help the school achieve those goals as well as the other strategic goals we as a community set for H-F. 
 
As an attorney, I am trained to think strategically and identify potential issues and risks. These skills will help me, the rest of the school board and the administration to accomplish these goals.
 


Jonathan Cook 
  Jonathan Cook
 
Education:
B.S., Secondary Education with a Concentration in English/Language Arts, Northwestern University, 2001
M.A., Curriculum and Instruction, Concordia University, 2011
 
Occupation:
Teacher at Bloom High School in Chicago Heights, IL (2008-Present)
Teacher at Venice Senior High School in Los Angeles, CA (2003-2008)
Teacher at Bloom Trail High School in Chicago Heights, IL (2001-2003)
 
Family: 
Wife, Annie Lawrence, and son, Owen Cook
 
Incumbent: 
No
 
Other elected positions: Current President of the Bloom Township High School Faculty Association (BTHSFA) and IEA-NEA Region 55 Council Representative, formerly Vice-President BTHSFA, Secretary BTHSFA, House of Representatives member United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), West Area Steering Committee member (UTLA).
 
Most important issues: 
We need to recruit and retain a high-quality faculty and staff with expertise that spans across our extensive course catalog and extracurricular programs, even in the face of a record-breaking teacher shortage.
 
Let’s work with our state government to continue efforts to address school funding inequities that have led to a disproportionate burden on property owners.  

Restorative discipline must be implemented with fidelity. The district has to increase buy-in from faculty and students, not just because it is the law, but because it is a fair and just way to deal with concerning student behavior.  

It is important that we embrace the diversity in our community and provide a culturally relevant curriculum delivered by a culturally responsive faculty in alignment with the current five-year strategic plan. 

Finally, we need to continue to improve communication and transparency in order to maintain the confidence of the community.
 
Goals:
I’m running for the future of our school district. We need to maintain the impressive and diverse courses and programs that make our school stand out while adapting to solidly-researched best practices that keep us on the cutting edge. To do so, our priority should be people first.  Before decisions are made, the first question should be: How will this affect all the people involved?  Board members have a responsibility to use taxpayer
funds wisely, but we must balance our fiscal responsibility and our humanity.
 
I will also facilitate understanding and cooperation between the board and stakeholders. Schools exist to nurture student talent and character. H-F is the center of our community. A successful school board sets a tone for the culture of the district and in turn, the community. As a teacher, union leader, activist, husband and father, a focus on caring and respectful relationships is my life’s calling. In my classroom and union work, I have
developed a skill for recognizing the strengths of individuals and organizing those talents for the greater good.
 
We have the potential to be a model for school success.  We get there by maintaining cool heads and warm hearts.
 


Pamela Jackson 
  Pamela Jackson
 
Education: 
B.S. Business Administration-Human Resource Management, 1991
 
Occupation: 
Senior Vice President-Head of Human Resources Technology and
Operations for First Midwest Bank
 
Family: 
Children: Donnie, H-F class of 2015; Alex, H-F class of 2017; Joshua and Jeremiah, Willow School.
 
Incumbent: 
No
 
Other elected positions: 
None.
 
Most important issues:
  • Accountability and communications- My leadership experience will lend itself to ensuring myself, my peers and school administration are accountable for great student outcomes.
  • Diversity, inclusion and equity for all students and teachers. I believe the school board should be representative of the student demographic.
  • Advocate for every student’s success-Having had two graduates from H-F with two very different experiences, I am passionate about the importance of creating an equitable experience for all students, regardless of academic level.  I am very interested in understanding and closing the achievement gap.
  • Community engagement-I believe it truly takes a village.  Having always been an involved parent, I know the benefit of this and want to create an environment where all parents and community members choose to be engaged.
Goals:
Build on the already solid foundation of excellent programs provided by our amazing teachers and staff.
 
Accountability and communications.
 
Establish a process for reviewing  and updating existing policies and procedures where appropriate.
 
Ensure the 5-Year Strategic Plan goals are tracked, measured, met and with regular progress updates to the community.
 
Annual presentation of the H-F budget for the community with Q&A segment.
 
Diversity, inclusion and equity for all students and teachers. (including race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender and disability) woven into the H-F fabric.
 
Ensure equitable hiring practices, while hiring the best qualified teachers. My plan would outline specific objectives, action steps, timelines and assessments that will eliminate disproportionality in all areas.
 
Advocate for every student’s success. One area of focus would be increasing the overall math proficiency percentage. Strive to improve our Illinois Report Card rating from commendable to exemplary.
 
I will invest time in listening and understanding teachers and what they need to achieve continued success; ensure they understand they are crucial to the success of our district and their experience and wisdom is valued.
 
I will increase community engagement by ensuring transparency in board deliberations and decisionmaking (where appropriate); encourage procedures that are more effective at demonstrating active listening and responsiveness to concerns raised in an open forum.  It is important to have a pulse on the community.
 

Merle Kimbrough-Huckabee 

  Merle 
  Kimbrough-
  Huckabee

 
Education:
Associate in Arts- Health Administration, Prairie State College, 2012
 
Occupation:
Retired; previously was a manager for Aetna until 8/2018; work experience in the health care industry and a former business owner.
 
Family:
Husband, James Huckabee, and two daughters. Faith is a 2013 H-F graduate, and Miracle is a freshman at H-F. Our family has lived in the Village West Community of Hazel Crest for 13 years.
 
Incumbent: 
No.
 
Other elected positions: 
District 161 school board member completing a four-year term. I serve as board secretary. District 161 representative to SPEED (S.E.J.A) School District 802, where I serve as vice president. Member of the H-F Parent-Teacher Discipline Committee; past volunteer at Flossmoor Hills Elementary School. 

Most important issues:
  • H-F hasn't been recognized as a Blue Ribbon School District since 2002. That is alarming! It's time to raise the bar!
  • Closing the Student Achievement Gap (S.A.G.) is paramount and also a mandatory requirement for Blue Ribbon status. The school districts have tons of data-It's time they use it!
  • Property Taxes- Our property taxes primarily fund the schools. Our taxes have skyrocketed! Why doesn't the quality of education our children are receiving match our taxes?
  • Transparency- Why aren't school board meetings being recorded?
  • Accountability- H-F's superintendent and administration are paid handsomely for their jobs. Most receive bonuses. Why isn't anyone holding them accountable by tying their pay and bonus structures to student performance and achievement
  • Diversity/Inclusion- H-F's current school board does not reflect the demographic ratio of the student population. In addition there is no African American female representation on the school board.
 
Goals:
  • Advocate for students, teachers and stakeholders of this district.
  • Work with the H-F School Board, superintendent, administration and teachers to close the Student Achievement Gap and position our district for Blue Ribbon status annually.
  • Ensure our students are looked at comprehensively and not just by test scores. We have to continue to build strong collaborative relationships among our elementary districts and H-F.
  • Ensure there is equal access and educational resources in place for the success of all learners on every level not just IB, high achievers or diverse learners.
  • Review H-F's Athletic Program to ensure all athletic teams are treated equally and fairly across the board. Eliminate fundraising and parent out-of-pocket costs for uniforms.
  • Ensure H-F's superintendent and administrators pay and bonus structure is tied to our students performance and achievement.
  • Work with the administration to manage the expectations of stakeholders. Record and stream school board meetings.
  • Create diversification and bring balance to the H-F School Board. We need more African Americans to serve on the school board to reflect our student population. The experience I possess from currently serving on 161 and 802 boards will bring a wealth of knowledge generating a link between the elementary and high school districts thus building a more rounded, efficient and effective board to serve our children, stakeholders and communities.
 


Nathan Legardy
  Nathan Legardy
 
Education:
B.S., Finance, DePaul University, 1994

Occupation: 
15 years Executive Search Recruiting; now with Slayton Search Partners
 
Family: 
My wife, Badia Legardy, daughter Lauren, a student at H-F High, and son, Nathan Jr.,  a 7th grader at Morgan Park Academy.
 
Incumbent: 
No
 
Other elected positions: 
None.
 
Most important issues:
  • Ensure the district advances policies that allow students equal access and opportunities to enrichment resources.
  • Work with H-F administration and fellow board members to create programs and policies that will close the achievement gap.
  • Drive programs and policies that will help reduce the cultural gap between the staff and student populations.
  • Construct policies that will responsibly improve the district's long-term financial health, and protect its AAA S&P rating status.
  • Initiate programs that build even stronger partnerships with future Vikings, their parents and the school districts that feed into H-F to further strengthen our incoming freshmen classes.
  • Engage the broader H-F community to support the school's long-term mission and vision.
Goals:
Over the last 10 years, I have impacted the lives of hundreds of students, many of whom are current and future Vikings.  As a board member, my top priority would be to create and support policies that elevate Viking academic, athletic and artistic achievements.
 
The investments that we make in our student body are not simple transactions; it requires a long-term vision with the goal of making certain that our students are prepared to meet the academic and professional challenges they will face upon leaving H-F, and that they will emerge with a promising future ahead. I will work with board members, administration, staff, students and community stakeholders to realize this vision with the win-win goal of optimizing student outcomes. H-F is a school that we should be proud of but making H-F the best school it can be should be an ongoing priority. The goal will be to return H-F to its elite status, not just locally, but statewide.
 


P. Andrew Lindstrom 
  Andrew 
  Lindstrom

 
Education:
Homewood Flossmoor High School, 1972
B.S, Business Administration, 1976
 
Occupation:
Now retired; previous employment included Mid City Bank Assistant Controller;
Vice President in charge of branches for Homewood Federal Savings and Loan; president of South End Savings.
 
Family: 
My wife, Carol, and our six children Kendra, Kimberly, Jonathan, Joshua, Katie and Kyrsten, all H-F graduates.
 
Incumbent: 
Not currently, but previously served on the District 233 board for 10 years.
 
Other elected positions: 
Past Village of Homewood trustee and board president.
 
Most important issues:
To keep the strong financial strength to support our triple-A bond rating for our district.
To make sure that all students receive the best education for them to be successful.
To maintain our facilities and to upgrade when needed.
To bring a strong school spirit and to improve morale.
 
Goals:
  • To maintain strong communication to all stake holders in the district.
  • To do the homework necessary to do the job!
  • To work well with all board members to achieve the best for our district.
  • To keep H-F the jewel of our communities because as we all know strong schools means strong communities.
 


Gerald Pauling 
  Gerald Pauling
 
Education:
J.D., University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, 1992
B.S., Business Administration, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, College of Commerce, 1989
Homewood-Flossmoor High School, 1985
 
Occupation: 
Attorney at Seyfarth Shaw LLP
 
Family:
Wife, Eugenia, and children Shelby (20); Winston (18); William (15)
 
Incumbent: 
Yes, I served for 5 years (2012 to 2017), and was re-appointed to the board in October 2018 to fill a vacancy. I currently am vice president and secretary of the board.
 
Other elected positions: 
None.
 
Most important issues:
Student achievement. Students are our lifeblood. They are why I do the work I do as a board member. Our first priority must be continuing to help every student achieve to his or her highest potential.
 
Fiscal responsibility. The board bears the all-important responsibility of ensuring that resources are available to support excellent instruction and programming for students. As educational costs rise and school funding uncertainties continue in our state, our board must guard (and use) its resources wisely, lest we fall prey to the financial woes that have affected other schools in our area. We must remain committed to the sound fiscal practices that have positioned us so well to this point.
 
Diversity and Inclusion. Our student body, faculty, staff, administration all are very diverse, on many levels. Our board should reflect diversity too. I not only am diverse, but  also I am a trained diversity executive and a diversity officer at my law firm. I have extensive knowledge -- and actual experience -- developing and implementing programs that create and sustain diversity and inclusion.
 
Goals:
My singular goal in running for the 233 board is to do my part to ensure that H-F continues to provide opportunities for students, like it did for me. I can truly say that I owe many of my successes and accomplishments (both personal and professional) to the foundation of my H-F education. I had the benefits of great teachers, state-of-the-art facilities (even then), unique programs (like the broadcasting program), and a supportive community that put students first. As time goes on, and our community grows and changes, we must remain committed to our students, continue to invest in their success, and continue to put them first.
 
Our high school’s success is critical to our community’s success. I will use my talents as a leader, my years of experience as a board member, and my reputation and relationships in our community to help keep H-F on a path to success. We have much to be thankful for — a high performing school, award-winning educators, highly experienced and nationally acclaimed administrators and an extraordinarily talented, diverse and high achieving student body. But we also have many challenges, and much work to do. I am excited about that work, and I possess the knowledge, experience, qualifications and ties to the community to get it done.
 

 

Jody Scariano

  Jody Scariano
 
Education:

B.A. in English


Occupation:
Retired



Family: T
hree children


Incumbent:
Yes. I’ve served on the District 233 board for 20 years.


Other elected positions:
None.

Most important issues:

  • School safety.

  • Student achievement.

  • Top notch instructors.

  • Fiscal responsibility and consistent financial strength of the district.

  • Top notch grounds and buildings.

  • Providing resources to meet the needs of all our students.

  • H-F’s success
     

Goals:

  • Breaking ground for our Fine Arts Academy.
  • Completing all three phases of the project.
  • Continuing our tax relief for H-F taxpayers.
 

Paris Walker

  Paris Walker
 
Education:
Bachelors of Liberal Studies, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, 2003
Masters of Arts in Education, Roosevelt University, 2007
Elementary Education Endorsement
Special Education Endorsement
Administrative Endorsement
 
Occupation:
Currently, Assistant Principal in Harvey School District 152; educator since 2007 (General and Special Education); past board member of KRIMM Technology Learning Labs Inc.
 
Family: 
Married with 2 daughters
 
Incumbent: 
No
 
Other elected positions:
None
 
Most important issues:
H-F haven’t received Blue Ribbon status since 2002, we still hold on to the reputation of being a Blue Ribbon School; it’s time to reclaim this recognition.
 
H-F's instructional spending has been higher than the state average for the last 4 years. ISBE issued H-F a “commendable” designation for 2017. Shouldn’t we receive the highest summative designation of “exemplary” if we are investing higher than average funds? After all, we are paying higher than average taxes but it seems students are performing at an average level. 
 
It is time to implement a culturally responsive curriculum that ensures academic equity and promotes academic success for all.
 
Students walk between the North and South building to attend classes. This raises safety concerns for me. There is no supervision on the path as students transition throughout the day.
 
Open, honest, and multiple modes of communication is needed to ensure true transparency, board meetings recorded and available on H-F's website 
 
Goals:
  • Increase safety and security for students and staff.
  • Improve academic performance and state rating, being recognized as Exemplary; Reclaim Blue Ribbon status; and Implement a culturally responsive curriculum relatable to all students.
  • Ensure we pay sensible, fair property taxes
  • Have a board of education committed to open communication and transparency
  • Utilize my experience and skills to be your voice on the Homewood-Flossmoor District 233 Board of Education. As an educator and bridge builder, I will work hard to ensure that the promise of tomorrow is realized today.
 


Jimo (JK) Kasali: No reply.

 

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