Expenditures – 2021 District 211 Board of Education Election Candidate Questionnaire


Gabe Classon and Maya Nayak

The Viking Logue sent out a questionnaire to all nine candidates in the District 211 Board of Education race. See all of the candidates’ responses to one of the questions below. See here for The Logue‘s full coverage of the April 6 election, including the candidates’ responses to other topics on the questionnaire.

In which areas should the district focus its spending? Are there areas where spending should be cut?

Curtis Bradley: Keeping th schools safe for in person learning. Equity training: Provide a new era of learning and teaching. Maintain the excellence of our academic programs. Support the work of the librarians, teachers, TA’s, and anyone who directly working in the high schools that help maintain a high level of safety for all students. Continue to support the work of the counselors, psych, nurses, and supporting staff, and families especially now, over the coming summer and into next school year.

Eliminating 3rd party provider for the BTW component of Driver Ed. At this time this is the only area I would review for cuts.

Denise Wilson: Increasing efficiency in school spending begins by identifying district goals and designing a budget that supports those goals. We would need to analyze the budget to identify whether the allocations support reaching those goals, then reallocate as needed.

Robi Vollkommer: I think there is always room for improvement and we should always analyze where the district can be more cost effective. As a school district, we should be investing in academics as much as possible.

I don’t have an opinion at this time about where spending should be cut, but I do think we should invest more into our high academic achievers.

Kristen Steel: Is there anything that a student at a D211 could need that is not provided? Pools, football fields, 1:1 device (i-pads), hundreds of clubs, meals at low rates, quality teachers, new propane buses, remodeled locker rooms, remodeled toilets, updated parking lots, new baseball fields, updated kitchens, updated libraries (media centers).

The admin is planning to update auditoriums and art rooms next. All with about $10M a year left over.

Maybe we can keep doing these great things while taking a little less money from the community. Then the administration would not need to work so hard trying to find ways to spend it.

If we can just CUT the surplus down a little, that would be a win.

Jessica Hinkle: District 211 currently has a surplus of money, but continues to burden the tax payers.
While reserves are important, there is no better time than the present to apply the excess funds to improve and enhance conditions in this Covid-19 impacted environment. We are experiences extenuating circumstances in this is exactly the type of scenario that we provided reserves for.
Invariably, as stated earlier when the topic of tax levies comes up, the board’s response it to impulsively vote in favor of increasing the levy. A more thorough investigation of proposed levy increases is needed and our goal should be to:
• Scrutinize proposed increases and approve only the most appropriate and essential.
• Reduce the funding in other budget areas that are non-essential or seemingly frivolous inclusions.
• Insure budget is cleansed on a regular basis of funding allocated to potentially obsolescent items.
• Review and refine reserve funding requirements. Establish funding caps where none exist and/or adjust fund life expectation.
I am confident that we can provide the best experience for our students, while being respectful and accountable to the members of our community.
I am confident that we can provide the best experience for our students, while being respectful and accountable to the members of our community.

Roxanne Wittkamp: All spending should be student-focused. A new and updated curriculum and technology need to be added that covers equity and fairness among other subjects.

Anna Klimkowicz: The Board had a fiduciary responsibility to its community. Prior to the referendum in 2005 District 211 reviewed all of its expenditures and incomes to address what at that time was a decrease in fund balance, this resulted in a savings of about $ 5million dollars. The referendum passed and our finances have remained stable and the district has been able to provide well maintained buildings, technology, improved classrooms and expanded curriculums at our schools.

Yes, we can and should review all of our expenditures and make changes where we can.

Tim Mc Gowan: Thanks to the board, we are currently in a secure financial situation. I will not consider cutting programs that disproportionately impact students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. As an example, the district has discontinued its Driver’s Education services. While many students can afford to go to private services, low-income students no longer have access to the lower-rate Driver’s Ed programs through our schools. Students from low-income families are the ones who take up part-time jobs in our community to support their families, but without a driver’s license, that option is no longer available. These are the kinds of impacts we need to consider when making budget cuts. We should prioritize programs related to student mental health and other socio-emotional services.