Local Election

Election 2019: Scott Coffey, Community High School District 155 board

Scott Coffey
Scott Coffey

Name: Scott Coffey

Age: 57

Town: Cary

Office sought: District 155 School Board

Occupation: Business owner

Education: University of Illinois, Accounting, CPA

Elected offices held: District 26 School Board - 9 years

Questions:

1. What is your largest priority for District 155 if elected?

My largest priority is implement changes that result in the Board of Education taking back control of the district. My nine years of experience on the Cary District 26 Board of Education led me to the conclusion that the current board is being run by the administration, rather than the other way around. It should be the board that should be in control whether its setting the strategic direction of the district, getting access to data, informing the public or even setting its own meeting schedule.

2. What changes should District 155 make in the future?

For the board to take back control of the district, it must:  

-Establish an upfront annual calendar of committee meetings rather than having meetings at the administration's whim.

-Upload all committee meeting board packets to the website for public viewing in order to be held accountable.

-Establish an annual review for a multi-year staffing plan to thoughtfully act in declining enrollment environment.

-Provide the board with tax levy data well in advance of any levy vote, instead of only allowing 24 hours for consideration.

-Hold Curriculum Committee meetings more than once or twice per year.

-Establish thorough expense controls and accountability.

3. What are your thoughts on how District 155 has adjusted to enrollment changes?

The district has seen enrollment decline by about 1,000 students during this decade, yet the district employs more employees today than it did 10 years ago.

4. What direction do you believe that District 155 should head in the future with its property tax levy if enrollment projections hold?

After losing 1,000 students over the last decade and a projection of losing another 500-600 students in the next five years, it is difficult to argue that the levy should remain at this level.

5. Do you believe that District 155 should consider closing one of its high school buildings in the future?

Board members have a central "duty of care" responsibility to act in the long term interests of the community. Basic due diligence would require a robust analysis of the financial and programmatic implications of a school closure on the students and the community. That analysis would be the basis for the community deciding on a course of action.

6. How do you feel District 155 handled its recent teacher contract negotiation process? How do you feel about the resulting contract?

I'm not sure all of the board members were kept in the loop during the process and didn't get all the details until right before the vote. Given that two board members voted No on the contract, that should give pause to the community as to how the process was handled and the resultant agreement. The contract's salary rate growth treats employees radically differently based on experience. More senior employees will receive 1.5 percent annually, while less senior staff will be on what looks like a three-year, 23 percent ramp. One could easily see where those eligible for retirement will choose the retirement incentive and begin receiving 3 percent increases over their last four years. The net result would push the net annual increases way above the forecasted 3.87 percent.

7. How do you feel that District 155 has handled the disciplinary cases of teachers Matt Fralick, Rick Lima and Justin Hubly?

The district should have immediately suspended employees once it received notification from law enforcement that an employee was under an active investigation. And should have remained suspended until the investigation was concluded.

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