CNC / PTA Council 2015 School Board Candidate Questionnaire for School Districts 65 and 202 Evanston/Skokie, Illinois

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1 CNC / PTA Council 2015 School Board Candidate Questionnaire for School Districts 65 and 202 Evanston/Skokie, Illinois Part I Involvement Candidate for District 65 or 202 Name: Adrian Dortch Address: 412 Custer Ave # 1, Evanston, IL Telephone(s): (847) E mail(s): Website: Facebook, Twitter, etc.: Occupation: Motivational speaker, health and wellness professional, music producer, and philanthropist Educational Background: Evanston Township High School graduate; attended Columbia College Chicago; and, currently studying with the National Academy of Sports Medicine Volunteer or Community Activities: Founder of Evanston Health & Wellness Foundation and Entrepreneur Endeavors Academy; executive board member and secretary of ECTV; collaborative works with Family Focus, Fleetwood Jourdain, YOU, the YMCA, Northwestern s Field Day and Campus Kitchen, and CPS schools Other Experience: Life Skills Certification through Primary Prevention Do you have children? Yes No What school(s) do (did) they attend? N/A not school age How long have you lived in Evanston/Skokie? 38 years Part II Platform 1. What motivated you to run for school board this year? I ve seen the strides that Districts 65 and 202 have made to do things jointly and thought what better time to revisit my platform from 2007 to unify our districts for a seamless education for our kids. I also believe that I can be very instrumental in assisting both boards to bridge the achievement gap and strengthen our foundation CNC/PTA Council Candidate Questionnaire Page 1

2 2. What personal qualities, training or experience do you have that would be of value as a school board member? (Please answer briefly in essay form and do not attach a resume.) I am alumni of both Districts 65 and 202 schools and have worked for Family Focus and in collaborative works with community organizations and establishments such as YOU, the YMCA, Northwestern, and Fleetwood Jourdain Community Center. As the president of Entrepreneur Endeavors Inc, a nonprofit youth and family enrichment and wellness program, I am passionate about the future of our youth and their families and am committed to providing them with every opportunity to help them grow and thrive. I understand the challenges within our education system, as well as within our community. I want to provide solutions and I believe through collective impact, we can make a difference. 3. If elected, what will be your top three priorities as a school board member? If elected, one of my top priorities as a school board member will be to close the achievement gap by creating and implementing strategies to provide a seamless education for all. Secondly, over 68% of our tax revenue goes to education and I would like to make sure that we are spending those dollars wisely while being more frugal and creative with our budget. Third, I firmly believe that education starts at home and I would like to develop IFEPs (Individualized Family Education Programs) to assist the families and our students and establish a stronger community outreach from our schools. 4. What should the school board s responsibility be to the community? To parents? How should voters assess the effectiveness of the board and its individual members? The citizens within our community control our schools and they do this partly by electing individuals to our school board. We have a responsibility to be the voice of our community, to assess what is truly needed through outreach, and provide the vision, policies, and solutions that echo a unanimity amongst the board, the community, and the district s staff. For our parents, we must make that vision alive and active, engaging them through programming and giving support not only in our schools, but carrying solutions into the home as well. For voters wishing to assess the effectiveness of the board and its members, they should consider the effectiveness of our policies, take note of our success rate and achievements, and take the time to get to know and recognize who the individual members are that are effecting change in our schools and community CNC/PTA Council Candidate Questionnaire Page 2

3 5. What are the major strengths of the school district? How can we build on them? What are its major weaknesses? How can we address them? In my opinion, one of the school district s major strengths is that over 68% of tax dollars go to our schools and we have a community of foundations and organizations willing to support our needs. Secondly, we have a plethora of really great programs. To build on these strengths, we can be more creative in how we use our money and include more entrepreneurial and vocational training. As to the district s major weaknesses, I believe that we need more parent and family advocacy, especially for fathers. Education starts at home and I think we can address this weakness by providing such things as homework help not only for our students, but also for the parents who are struggling to assist their children in completing their homework. In addition, I feel that the fact that both Districts 65 and 202 meet at the same time on the same night poses a problem for parents of children attending schools in both districts. How can they truly get involved in their children s education when they are being pulled in two directions? Either combining meetings or choosing alternate meeting days can address this issue. 6. Describe your understanding of school board governance and the role of the board versus the roles of the superintendent and the administration. The school board is in charge of such things as passing policies, establishing the vision and structure for our schools, adopting curriculums and balanced annual budgets, and hiring and overseeing the superintendent who will carry all mandates out. The board is also responsible for approving the superintendent s personnel recommendations. The superintendent is the face of the district and is responsible for keeping the board abreast of events and activities occurring within the district. He or she is also expected to make recommendations to the board as to how the district can improve in its daily operations. The administration i.e. the principle(s) becomes a part of the dynamic system that works as the arms and legs, administering to and working directly with the students and families that they serve. Ideally, the school board and superintendent should be partners, working in a collaborative effort with the support of the administration to provide the best education and support for the students and families within the community. 7. Select two major decisions made by the school board within the last four years about which you have a strong opinion. Explain why you agree or disagree with these decisions. I feel that our school boards have always made the best decisions possible. It becomes challenging when you don t have complete community and family involvement CNC/PTA Council Candidate Questionnaire Page 3

4 Part III Student Achievement and Assessment 8. If elected, describe how you will contribute toward enhancing student achievement. How should the district address the needs of students in the top and bottom quartiles of the achievement spectrum? If elected, my contribution toward enhancing student achievement would be through the implementation of IFEPs (Individualized Family Education Programs), with an emphasis on entrepreneurial and vocational training. In this plan, we establish a holistic approach to education emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual, and social. By adopting IFEPs, this would address the needs of students in the top and bottom quartiles of the achievement spectrum. 9. What role should standardized testing have in assessing students, teachers, and instructional methods? I don t believe that they should have a role other than what they are for to gain funding and to get stats of what appears to be going on. There are so many variables that go into being a student, a teacher, and the instructional methods that are used. We are dealing with situations in real time. I feel standardized testing can t thoroughly capture that, nor tell what needs to be implemented because it s different for every student and teacher. Every assessment needs to be on an intimate, individual basis. Part IV Student, School & Parental Partnerships 10. Explain your vision for student, parent and school partnerships. How do these differ from Cradle to Career and other community partnerships? I feel that new areas need to exist, like implementing IFEPs (Individualized Family Education Programs), where our schools and community organizations would come together to tutor and educate parents on how to help their youth with homework, as well as offering continuing adult education emphasizing on entrepreneurial and vocational training. We need to take the time to see what makes each parent and child come alive and give them the tools to turn it into a business. But first, there needs to be a strong foundation of the basics reading and comprehension, writing, spelling, science, the arts, and math and with today s technology, how to do research. Although Cradle to Career and other community partnerships are great, we need to have a strong foundation of the basics to understand the true value of what is being offered CNC/PTA Council Candidate Questionnaire Page 4

5 11. What is your vision for the partnership between District 65 and District 202? Which areas of collaboration are most important and why? My vision for a partnership between the Districts 65 and 202 is that they will adopt a unified vision and the same policies and programming for a seamless education in Evanston/Skokie. I would also like to see both districts share responsibility for the success as well as the challenges within the districts. One area of collaboration that I feel is most important is that the districts hold board meetings together. This will enable the planning of policies, curriculum, and accountability to be seamless across the board. Within the joint meetings, we could attract families further by offering a healthy dinner supplied by an organization such as Northwestern s Campus Kitchen. Another important area of collaboration is community outreach. With so much tax revenue going towards our schools, we need to offer more to our community. Part V Budget 12. How will you influence fiscal efficiencies at the school district? Our existing staff works so hard to make a difference. I know consolidation is a very unpopular term when referencing Districts 65 and 202, however, it has been proven to be very beneficial to students, families, and constituents within a small community and could rectify any fiscal inefficiencies. A more popular decision would be to be more creative with a smaller budget and closely go over every line item being as frugal as possible, making sure we are getting the best deal without compromising services. 13. If budget cuts are necessary, which areas deserve priority and why? If budget cuts are necessary, our priorities should always the basics arts, reading and comprehension, writing, spelling, science, and math and the programs that support these fundamentals also deserve priority. Due to our achievement gap and the state of our foundation, we need to be focused on closing the gap without jeopardizing anyone s education. I also feel that new areas need to exist such as implementing IFEPs (Individualized Family Education Programs) where our schools and community organizations would come together to tutor and educate parents on how to help their youth with homework, as well as offering continuing adult education emphasizing on entrepreneurial and vocational training. With technology moving so fast, we have great ways to research anything. The challenge with this is that we don t have any programs that teach our youth and their families how to research. The support offered through IFEPs would help with this. These are the areas I feel deserve priority and focus CNC/PTA Council Candidate Questionnaire Page 5

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