March 29, 2011 12:44PM
Pat Usher, candidate in SD 157-C. | Supplied photo
Office sought: Frankfort Community Consolidated School District 157C
Name: Pat Usher
Address: 22042 Thyme Lane, Frankfort
Date of birth: May 6, 1975
Education: A.A. Joliet Junior College; B.A. Eastern Illinois University; M.A. St. Xavier University; M.A. Governors State University
Occupation, employer: High school teacher, Consolidated High School District 230 (Carl Sandburg High School)
Please list all sources of income: CHSD 230
Spouse, spouse’s employer: Heather (Sneddon) Usher; physical therapist, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
Children, age of children: Ryan, 5; Colin, 2
What other elected offices have you sought? What year? Frankfort 157C School Board in 2007
Have you ever been arrested or charged with a crime? No
Do you have any criminal convictions on your record? No
Political (elected or significant appointment) experience: Member of the Frankfort 157C board since 2007, Frankfort 157C hearing officer
In your view, what are the two most important issues facing your constituents? How would you address those issues?
Without question our two most important issues facing the Frankfort 157C constituents are our ability to maintain the district’s educational excellence and fiscal responsibility to all of the taxpayers of the district.
Above all, parents want to have the greatest academic and extracurricular opportunities for their children to become successful, both inside and outside of the classroom. Further developing our elite staff and identifying the needs and talents of each student in the district will allow for the greatest development of our children. This was addressed with the adoption of all-day Kindergarten with no added cost to the taxpayers. In fact, it actually allowed for a reduction of the budget due to the elimination of the mid-day bus run.
Likewise, supporting our superintendent, Tom Hurlburt, and his administrative team as they continue to cut cost and maintain our fiscal stability. Following the practices of prior boards, the current Frankfort 157C board has taken an active role in addressing the needs of all taxpayers. This was addressed in 2010 through the process of refunding bonds to reduce the projected increase in the tax rate. In addition, the administrative team, FTA (teachers association), and board have collectively tackled the need to cut more than $700,000 from the budget for the 2011-2012 school year. This, of course, is in response to the loss of total EAV (property value) within the district over the last several years and failure of the state to meet financial obligations in a timely manner.
Please explain something significant you would like to accomplish within the next two years if you are elected to the office to which you aspire.
As a member of the community since 1983, I’ve always been proud to call Frankfort home. As a graduate of 157C and Lincoln-Way High School, I know firsthand that a high quality education can positively impact the community. As a father, I feel compelled to contribute to the present and future direction of our community. As an experienced educator, I have a great understanding, not only of the delivery of educational services, but the reality that those services must be delivered in a manner that is resourceful to the taxpayers of the district.
Please explain how you believe the office you’re seeking can help in creating local jobs.
While the schools are a great place to provide local jobs, it is not the main function. Providing high quality education in a manner that is resourceful to the taxpayers of the district is priority. In recent years, Frankfort 157C has had to reduce the number of paraprofessionals, teachers, and administrators in order to reduce the budget and meet the needs of all taxpayers. Fortunately, the dynamic staff of 157C continues to provide for and meet the needs of each student.
Do you believe the current way Illinois pays for education is working? If so, why? If not, why not? What would you change?
The current practice of allowing for local control of education is best for the Frankfort 157C community. There have been proposals recently in the General Assembly to take that right away. Moving away from our current model would fundamentally change the delivery of the educational services we provide in our district. Currently, the state is close to a year behind on payments to Illinois school districts. Allowing local districts to maintain our current property tax funding for education allows for greater input by the 157C community as to which needs our district must address.
Would you make any changes to the budget of the governing unit to which you are seeking elected office? If so, what?
We should continue to balance the needs of our students and all taxpayers. As stated in our 2009-2014 Strategic Plan, we should continue to maintain alliances with the Lincoln-Way Area Legislative Council and Frankfort Taxing Body Coalition to limit or prevent unfunded state mandates, maintain existing resources and pursue additional revenue, continue to use the STRAT Plan and the levy and budget books to update long-range projections, continue short- and long-term financial planning and develop a flexible debt structure to remain fiscally stable, and, most importantly, proactively communicate financial position and performance to the community.