Name: Adam Guss
Town: Crystal Lake
Office sought: CHSD155 School Board
Occupation: Technical Operations Supervisor
Education: Crystal Lake South High School, Southern Illinois University
Elected offices held: CHSD155 School Board 2015-2019, Board President 2017-2019
1. What is your largest priority for District 155 if elected?
The most important thing in the immediate future is for the board to ensure a full and successful implementation of our recently completed strategic plan. The district gathered input from hundreds of stakeholders on every level to create a plan that is truly reflective of what our community wants from their schools. This plan will be used to help shape everything that we do as s district going forward, and making sure that the voice of the community is considered in every decision.
2. What changes should District 155 make in the future?
We have to continue to evolve as a district and adjust to an ever changing educational environment. The district has already began trialing a blended learning model among other indicatives. Education has changed, and we have a responsibility to change along with it. This is a perfect example of why the strategic plan has value. We don’t have to guess or imagine what our parents and students need, they’ve already told us.
3. What are your thoughts on how District 155 has adjusted to enrollment changes?
I think we’ve adjusted properly, and have reduced our teaching staff at a rate that is actually higher than our percentage of enrollment decline. Unfortunately that has resulted in the loss of some truly talented and qualified teachers, but that is the reality that we continue operate in. As we move forward, if the projections hold true and enrollment continues to decline, we will have to continue to make those difficult decisions while ensuring that we continue to provide the excellent education and the opportunities and options that our students deserve and our community demands.
4. What direction do you believe that District 155 should head in the future with its property tax levy if enrollment projections hold?
District 155 has already made significant adjustments to its tax levy over the last four years, resulting in a financial record no other school district in the area can match. In 2015 and 2018 we took a flat levy, and in 2017 we abated the majority of the increase taken back to the taxpayers. The flat levies alone result in an approximately $2.5 million per year savings each and every year in perpetuity. That is a significant and permanent savings for our community that cannot be undone by this or any future board without a referendum.
5. Do you believe that District 155 should consider closing one of its high school buildings in the future?
Absolutely not. When this issue first came up a couple of years ago, our community was very clear that they wanted to keep all four high schools open. I believe that our recent approach of reinvesting fund balances back in to our schools to maintain and improve them for the future is the right one. Furthermore, the projections show that enrollment will bottom out, and then start to rise again. While we could mathematically fit all of our students in to three buildings right now, we would be at absolute maximum capacity. When enrollment starts to increase again, we would be out of room and potentially looking at expansion or a new building almost immediately.
6. How do you feel District 155 handled its recent teacher contract negotiation process? How do you feel about the resulting contract?
The process itself was standard operating procedure for this and virtually every other school district in the state, and was done in conjunction with our attorneys at every step. The issue of not making the contract public before being voted on is a topic worthy of discussion going forward, but is not something unique to District 155, this is a long standing point of contention with school districts and other public bodies. The issue is more complicated than simply posting the document on a website, but is something that should be considered. The contract itself is fair to both sides and provides the district some financial certainty as we move forward.
7. How do you feel that District 155 has handled the disciplinary cases of teachers Matt Fralick, Rick Lima and Justin Hubly?
It would be irresponsible to comment on any individual personnel issue, but I will say that I am completely confident in how our administration and legal team handle disciplinary cases. If I wasn’t, I would do everything in my power to change that. I am the parent of a District 155 student, and I know the lengths that I would go to in order to protect my child from harm, and I feel that responsibility to every student in our district.