March 29, 2011 1:28PM
Shelia Whorton, candidate SD 227. | Supplied photo
Office sought: Rich Township School District 227 board
Name: Shelia Whorton
Address: 411 Winnebago St., Park Forest
Date of birth: February 10, 1959
Web site: www.sheliahester-whorton.com
Education: Master’s in public administration, Governors State University
Occupation, employer: Regional director, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service
Please list all sources of income: Salary from employer
Spouse, spouse’s employers:
Children, age of children, children’s employer (if applicable):
2 adult children, 28 and 32
Please list any relatives, including in-laws, who are employed by a governmental agency at the federal, state or local levels. What are their job titles and with what agency are they employed: None
What other elected offices have you sought? What year? None
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: None
In your view, what are the two most important issues facing your constituents? How would you address the issues?
1) Our children are not prepared for the future.
Approximately 63 percent of students in District 227 are not meeting Illinois learning standards. However, we currently have one feeder school district, where approximately 82 percent of the students are meeting or exceeding the Illinois standards. Our other feeder school districts are not doing as well, so a large percent of students are below grade level when entering high school. I believe that aligning testing and curriculum with the feeder schools and District 227 would increase test scores, grades, and student achievement.
I would also work to set policies in accordance with education reform signed into law by Gov. Quinn. One law creates a teacher evaluation system that incorporates student growth as a significant factor. Student growth would account for 50 percent of the evaluation. A second law calls for the overhauling of the state’s principal preparation and certification requirements.
As a board member, I would work to develop policy that increases partnerships and collaborations with our feeder schools. I would also work to increase partnerships with our college and business communities and encourage high school internships that would give students a closer view of potential careers. I would encourage partnerships with successful school districts and incorporate their proven processes, if applicable, rather than reinventing the wheel.
2) The perception and image of our school district is another important issue.
I would exemplify moral character and integrity in my role as a board member. I would encourage a major public relations project highlighting the positive aspects of our schools and community. Perhaps take out an ad in the newspaper.
Please explain something significant you would like to accomplish within the next two years if elected:
1) Develop a collection of partnerships with parents, feeder schools, colleges and business community.
2) An increase in ACT scores and Illinois state learning standards. College ACT requirements exceed our current composite score of 17.1.
Please explain how you believe the office you’re seeking can help in creating local jobs.
Rich Township School District 227 is one of the largest employers within the district. Jobs may be created by direct employment and through contractual agreement for goods and services.
Do you believe the current way Illinois pays for education is working? If so, why? If not, why not? What would you change?
No. Approximately 60 percent of the budget comes from local real estate, 7 percent comes from federal funds, and the remaining 33 percent from the state of Illinois. However, according to the Illinois Constitution, the state should be responsible for approximately 50 percent of the budget.
I understand that Illinois has a major deficit and can’t pay the share as mandated by the constitution. However the state should continue to apply for federal funding, adjust its budget, and make every effort to increase its funding.
Special funding considerations should be given to the neediest of school districts.
As a board member, I would work to develop policy that would encourage parents, administration, and community to be influential advocates for our children at the local, state and national level. Seeking grant funds and partnering with major businesses, foundations, and donors such as the Walton Foundation and Target could offset some budgetary constraints at the district level. For example, the Walton Foundation awarded $250,000, in addition to $500.00 per child for 4 years, to the Southland Charter School.
Would you make any changes to the budget of the governing unit to which you are seeking elected office? If so, what?
Approximately 70 percent of the budget is allocated for personnel. Last year a major portion was allocated for construction of the schools. Both expenditures are or were necessary. As a board member, I would work with the board to ensure that the budget is a reflection of the vision and goals of the district, and encourage transparency and accountability