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Name: Eldon E. Burk
Position sought: Maine Township High School District 207 Board of Education, four-year term.
Campaign contact information. Please include any or all of the following: website, email address, phone number, Facebook page, Twitter account, mailing address, etc.
Phone: (847) 827-8619
Mailing address: 661 Walnut Court, Des Plaines, 60016
Family Include as much info as you like (names, ages, number of children, etc.):
Son, Randal, daughter, Tammy (deceased), stepdaughters, Keri and Kim and five grandchildren.
Education Include degree(s) and school(s):
BA, Eastern New Mexico University
MA, University of Northern Iowa (State College of Iowa in 1963)
Type 75 certification, Northwestern University
Other graduate work at the following: University of Illinois, University of Wyoming and Northern Illinois University.
Occupation: Retired educator, biology teacher, dean and assistant principal at Maine West High School
Political Party: Nonpartisan election
Official name of your campaign committee (if you have one):
Previous Elected or Appointed Offices:
Appointed to the Des Plaines Library Board in 1995, serving through 2010.
Elected to D-207 Board of Education in 2010.
Is there any additional experience you believe qualifies you for the position?
I believe my 37 years of working as an educator and as a parent of two Maine Township students, as well as being a resident since 1963, has given me a very good understanding of the needs and successes of our school district.
What would your priorities be if elected to this office?
The fiscal health of the district is always a priority. The educational progress of our students is also at the top of my priorities. Our three buildings are showing their age, perhaps not on the outside, and will need significant updating in the next few years. We need to prepare financially for these needs (ex: new boilers, new roofs, etc.).
What are the most important issues facing Maine Township High School District 207 and what would you do as a member of the board of education to address them?
I believe I have addressed several of these issues in the previous response. However, there are some additional areas of concern. With the State of Illinois facing an enormous pension shortfall and their desire to push that state obligation back to the local school boards, we have to prepare for this inevitable expense. We have to prepare our budgets with this in mind. We also need to support the new Common Core Standards curriculum by providing our staff as many opportunities as possible to improve their skills. We already have one of the best teaching teams in the state but we can get better.
Why did you choose to run for D-207’s board of education?
I feel I have been able to make a significant contribution to the district as a board member these past four years and I feel I still have more to give. We will continue to face new challenges, but our board has had a very good working relationship. I would like to be part of that working team for four more years.
D-207 and Maine West High School are involved in litigation and investigations into bullying and hazing, and the district has begun implementing new policies and systems to address this issue. What would you do, if elected, as a member of D-207’s board of education to address bullying and hazing at the high schools?
This issue has been addressed since October 2012 and is continuing to be addressed. We have hired a consulting company to send out questionnaires and work with focus groups of parents, students and faculty. We have and will continue to train our staff to recognize problems, or potential problems, with regards to bullying and/or hazing. We are in the process of reviewing our board policies with regards to these two issues. Our vigilance will be ongoing, not “one time is enough” to work on this issue.
D-207 recently voted to approve a $1-million tax abatement for taxpayers in the district. If elected to D-207’s board, what would your position be on similar tax abatements, the tax levy and expenditures on staffing?
I support a tax levy every year for many reasons:
- State pushing pensions back to local boards.
- The needs of our building to be updated with some major expenses involved.
- The uncertainty of other state and federal funding for education. If we don’t ask for the funds and we need them to continue to support our programs, we will be moving in the wrong direction. If we ask for the funds and find that we don’t need them we should abate as we did this year by the amount of $1 million. We need to continue to be competitive with salaries to maintain our outstanding staff, however, we do not need to be number one in that category. Our new contract is fair and will put our district in a much better position in the future to maintain an excellent staff without breaking the bank so to speak. I believe one of the reasons families move into Maine Township is because of the outstanding schools we support with our taxes. I would not want to see this deteriorate.
Why would you do a better job representing D-207 than your opponents?
I’m not sure how to answer this question since I don’t know how my opponents would function in the job. I do know that it takes time to learn the job. Having served four years I believe my learning curve would not be as severe as one who has not served. Developing an understanding of the role of the board is very important. My experience with our district has given me a very good feel for my role as a board member.