Northwest Herald Campaign Questionnaire
Name: Tim Griskey
Office sought: D158 – Huntley School Board
Occupation: Financial Crimes (Anti-Money Laundering and Fraud Prevention) for Fortune 50 financial institutions
Education: Northwestern University, Bachelor of Science in organizational Behavior.
Elected offices held: None
Social Media: fb.me/GriskeyForHuntleySchoolBoard
1. What is your largest priority for District 158 if elected?
A balanced budget focused on quality educational experiences. Continued evolution and educational improvement coupled with fiscal discipline can be combined.
For the first time in the past 2 decades, Huntley will begin to see declining student enrollments with the graduation of the class of 2020, as fewer students begin than graduate. In addition, the Five-Year Budget Plan is forecasting significant deficits beginning in FY2021 which if not addressed now will lead to large cuts later, or increased taxes.
Additional property taxes should not be the answer.
2. What changes should District 158 make in the future?
District 158 needs to make a few critical changes:
Minimize operating expense growth – 30 percent increase over the past five years, almost 9 percent last year to this year alone. We can not afford to continue to grow the costs this quickly.
Improve early intervention on three critical initiatives – drug use, bullying and depression/suicide prevention.
Continue to assess the effectiveness in our curriculum at preparing our students – including evolution for non-traditional paths (ex technology) where employers are removing college requirements.
3. What are your thoughts on how District 158 has adjusted since enrollment has leveled off?
Over the last year, operating expenses have increased over $8 million (almost 9 percent).
Over the past five years, expenses have grown $26 million per year - nearly 30 percent and are now greater than $100 million per year. And the district continues to increase its budget assuming a robust economy for the next 5 years.
While our cost/student has been a leading indicator over the past several years because of rapid development and high enrollment, as the enrollment begins to decrease, our cost per student will balloon.
4. What direction do you believe that District 158 should head in the future with its property tax levy if enrollment projections hold?
Over 60 percent of your property tax bill goes directly to District 158. Great schools drive property values up, but high property taxes drive property values down – so we need a clear balance.
Just last month, the school board approved a 2.7 percent levy – make no mistake – that’s a tax increase on every property owner in the district. And just because the board can levy (increase taxes) does not mean they have to – and if they do, it could be lower than the consumer price index rate (the maximum allowed).
We need to redeploy teachers, employees and resources as enrollments decrease to focus on new initiatives, not hire new staff.
5. What are your thoughts on the district's increase in school resource officers?
School resource officers are a great idea – there is nothing more important than the safety of our children, students, and staff. In addition, the added benefits for early intervention, drug prevention, decrease in bullying are all added benefits.
6. What are your thoughts on the district's efforts to introduce solar energy systems?
It sounds like a great idea- and the current projection is the district will have a benefit of around $200,000 each year over the next 20 years. In addition, it is beneficial to the environment, and provides an opportunity to add to the sustainability dialogue in our schools.
I do have one concern, out of the four vendors interviewed, the winner is the only one who projected a benefit to the district. The other three stated there would be a negative financial benefit (cost) to the district between $500,000 and $4 million. So when I see one vendor promise such great returns, I get concerned.
7. How do you feel about the district's initiatives such as the Vanguard Vision and the incubator?
In today’s world, the Incubator is a great idea – bringing an entrepreneurial spirit to our children. Small business is the leading driver of our economy and cultivating it at an earlier age is important. The costs related to this initiative are minimal.
Vanguard Vision is a competency based learning program, developed by other innovate states and districts – and Huntley should continue to pursue and review success. Different students learn in different ways – and having blended and competency approaches in addition to traditional paths are important in today’s evolving world. No two journeys should be the same.