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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Indian Prairie Community School District 204 Board {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
  • Laurie Donahue (N)

  • Michael Raczak (N)

  • Vasavi Chakka (N)

  • Renata Sliva (N)

  • Cathy Piehl (N)

  • Susan Taylor-Demming (N)

  • Marland Brazier (WITHDREW) (N)

  • J. Randy Sidio (N)

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Biographical Information

Tell us a little about yourself. •Elementary attendance area in which you reside, number of children you have (if any) and what schools they attend •Educational background, current occupation •Involvement with the schools, district, or community on either a professional or volunteer basis

What in your personal background, work expertise, or skill set uniquely qualifies you to serve as a member of the District 204 Board of Education?

Why do you want to serve on the District 204 Board of Education?

What is your role as a school board member and what steps do you plan to take to perform that role effectively?

What specific changes to district goals and/or policy will you advocate for and why?

What steps would you take towards creating a forum for open, two-way discussion and greater transparency between parents and board members?

a) Elementary attendance area: My two children attended and graduated from: Springbrook, Gregory, Neuqua Valley b) Educational background and current occupation – BS in Computer Engineering from University of Michigan, MBA from Benedictine University. Currently a Senior Director at Nokia leading global quality initiatives. c) Community Involvement – Chair/Co-Chair, Naperville Sister Cities Commission, Secretary, Hawthorne Credit Union Board of Directors, Student Recruiter for the University of Michigan, Naperville area, Edward Hospital Animal Assisted Therapy program, Naperville Humane Society volunteer, Special Olympics
I am a business leader and an active volunteer in our community. My background includes leading diverse business and technical teams in AT&T/Lucent/Nokia for over 30 years. I’ve managed $250M capital budgets and led a $1B purchasing program and have significant experience dealing with constantly decreasing budgets with continuing expectations for higher performance. Beyond my career, I have been a volunteer and leader in a variety of different organizations, including chairing the Naperville Sister Cities Commission with a special emphasis on driving a connection between our schools and Nitra Slovakia. Last year with my leadership over 90 choir students and chaperones from Neuqua visited Nitra.

To be successful, I built skills in negotiation, team building, and communications. Responsibilities have required me to be a strong leader making strategic decisions, providing direction, inspiring involvement, and seeking creative solutions to overcome obstacles.
I am running for the school board because I believe I can contribute to achieving continued excellence in our schools and effectively deal with the issues facing our district. We have major challenges including high class sizes and budget concerns. A cohesive school board is an essential element for the success of a school district. We need people who have different perspectives and diverse skill sets who can work together, as a team, to make the right decisions for our students and community. I bring a proven track record, through my career accomplishments and volunteer activities, of integrity and success working with others to achieve superior results. I believe I can make a difference in supporting our school district and community.
The school board is in place to represent the interests of both the students and the community. They set policy, define goals, and make decisions on issues facing the district. Given the significant impact to our budget and polices, our school board in Naperville also needs to be actively involved in Springfield. As a member of the board, I will strive to have a broad, unbiased, understanding of issues and needs. I will make sure that decisions are equitable and that the district continues to be fiscally responsible.
To compete in the future global market, the district needs to continuously evolve our curriculum using innovative teaching techniques to foster entrepreneurial skills, problem solving, and to inspire intellectual curiosity. Our schools need to provide a well-rounded educational experience preparing all our students for their chosen career path, college or vocational. I would like to see all students receive meaningful exposure to technical tools and skills and drive more interest, especially for girls, in science and math. Additionally, I will be an advocate for protecting the District’s arts and music programs. Excellence in education means providing a well-rounded curriculum. Studies have shown children involved in arts and music perform better and received more scholarships to college than any other activities in high school. We need to ensure that District 204 schools are providing opportunities for our students to achieve in these areas.
I’ve been a parent in this district, so I know how important it is for the school board and the community to have open communication. Listening to the community is essential to being an effective school board. Seeking input from the community will be a critical function of my role as a member of the school board. I will be an active participant in meetings and organizations formed within the district to address issues and initiatives.
Family and Background – The Raczak family has resided in Naperville since 1996. Currently our home is in the Carillon Club. My wife, Mimi and I have two adult daughters, Kristin and Anne. Both graduated from Neuqua Valley High School.

My degrees include both a Bachelors of Science in Education and Special Education and a Masters of Science in Special Education from Northern Illinois University. I am currently retired. For over 35 years, I have served education as a teacher, special educator, consultant, administrator, principal and elected school board member. I was employed by Indian Prairie 204 as an assistant principal and principal for 21 years.

As a Board of Education member, I represent the Board on the Naperville Collaborative Youth Team and the Legislative Network of DuPage County. I assist the Indian Prairie Parent Diversity Advisory Council on their leadership committee. Additionally, I perform a number of volunteer activities at my church, Alleluia! Lutheran Church, and serve as mentor for students at Hill Middle School.
In addition to my educational experiences that have allowed me to be at the forefront of American education, I have served on the Board of Education for the last four years. My colleagues have elected me to serve as Vice President. I have earned Master Board status through the Illinois Association of School Boards.
Given the complexity of today’s education and the lack of an adequate educational funding formula in Illinois, it is critical that the Board has a member with both a history of the district and experience in the field of education to assist in making informed decisions. Serving as a board member is a natural extension of my life-long learning and provides a wonderful opportunity to use my knowledge and experience to serve the students in District 204.
My experience as an educational leader in schools and state organizations has allowed me to understand the importance of effective governance. School board members need to hold student learning and organizational effectiveness in the highest regard. Additionally, setting priorities and standards for budget preparation and monitoring the financial performance of the district will be paramount. The Board now conducts meetings that encourages discourse, yet runs efficiently and professionally. This must continue. Finally, it is critical to facilitate a partnership with all our stakeholders to tackle the challenges we will face in the future.
Since I assisted in the development of the current District 204 district goals, I do take ownership for them. Yet, it is interesting to note that there have been changes in state policy and educational thought since September 2016. For instance, our objectives use the PARCC and ACT scores as the only measure of success and failure. Our district is playing a major role in the Redefining Ready Campaign, which introduces a more comprehensive research based approach to measuring student success. The SAT will be replacing the ACT test and new metrics will be needed. Also, the district has participated in the Equal Opportunity to Schools project with an emphasis of increasing participation in advanced placement classes. Hopefully, the results will allow us to identify more specific directions and resources to help achieve the goal of reducing the achievement gap.
Effective education systems view parents and the community as partners in providing the best curriculum, programs and services for our children. Board action without public engagement and transparency is not prudent policy. Although the district has many mechanisms for communication, the Board must remember that both new instructional pedagogy and an ever-changing financial picture will necessitate efforts to further inform our school community. Potential issues such as class size, financial cuts, and school boundaries offer further opportunity for meaningful dialogue.
1a) Kendall Elementary School. My husband Sudhakar and I have 2 well rounded educated children, my daughter and son who graduated from D204 schools and successfully pursuing higher studies and careers. 1b) Educational background and current occupation: B.S. in Science, M.A. in Arts (Literature), CIS from NYSU, Leadership certifications from University of Houston and Leadership institute of Naperville Chamber of commerce, and PMP from Project Management Institute. With 21 years of IT management experience now I offer consulting services in project management, career counseling and youth leadership. 1c) Involvement with the schools, district, or community on either a professional or volunteer basis: PTSA President: Neuqua Valley High school (2011-12), STEM Advocacy for Dist. 204 (2011 –present), Kids Matter, Board of Trustees, ThinkGlobalArts Foundation, Advisory committee, Naperville Indian community outreach, Board of Directors, Community Alliance for Prevention 360 youth services, Coalition Member, Naperville Downtown Rotary, Executive Board Member (2014-15), Naperville Chamber of Commerce, Board of Director, Naperville Indian community outreach, Board of Directors, Harmony Grove Homeowners Association, Board of Directors (2014-2016), Volunteer Educator (2005 to Present) Chinmaya mission Chicago - Badri, A school of Vedantic studies, Naperville Sister Cities Commission, Appointed by Naperville Mayor.
I received my education from 3 different continents (Asia, Europe and USA). With 21 years of technical, global business management, finances and professional development experience (IBM, Getronics, and Siemens IT (ATOS)), I bring wealth of knowledge and expertise in business strategy, finances, cross culture collaboration, community relations and leadership building to contribute to the board to guiding the district to deliver educational excellence.
We moved to Naperville in 2004 for its highly respected public schools. As a community member I love and deeply care for this community’s welfare. With my strong belief in “Service above Self” I find community service very rewarding and fulfilling. My passion for education and youth leadership drives me to volunteer to be a school board member on IPSD 204 board.
I clearly understand as a school board member the decisions I make/support as a collective group not only impact our children, but the entire community. As a school board member I will work with fellow board members and administration to make careful decisions based on the facts and always keep what is best for the students, teachers and schools as my highest priority.
By keeping future focus of D204’s in mind I will assist to achieve current board goals and support respective policies which help to achieve these goals. i. Help each student achieve academically: My 1st and foremost priority is to assure that very child is provided opportunities to learn essential skills to be globally competitive to be collage and career ready. ii. Hire and retain a high quality, effective teaching staff: It’s essential that we hire and support well qualified teachers and create a positive and harmonies environment for them to thrive. I will work with fellow board members to make sure our teachers have required professional development opportunities, tools and resources to impart 21st century education to our children. iii. Manage resources efficiently and effectively: I will see to that the district finances are managed efficiently by making prudent financial decisions to prevent any negative impact to the class rooms. I will evaluate budgetary decisions by examining our books thoroughly to ensure taxpayers' money is being utilized to its fullest potential. I will support prudent financial decisions that are made with a foresight to keep D204 financial health to be sound and secure our children’s future. iv. Be student and community focused: It has been my honor and privilege to serve in various voluntary positions in Naperville community since 2004. I will build upon my strong community involvement to further foster trust and partnership between school board and parental organizations, local businesses, Rotaries, Park district and other educational institutes and social organizations. Maintain strong collaborative effort with organizations such as 360 youth services and Kidsmatter to help children to make positive choices which impact their mental and physical wellbeing. I will invite and encourage local businesses to establish an Industry council to build partnership with school district – to frequently exchange notes and inform the school district of their needs for the near and long term opportunities for internship and job creation for our high school children.
I will make sure the current changes and issues D204 facing are clearly communicated to the parents, Taxpayers, and seek their collaboration and support for success of these changes. I will help in identifying new partnership opportunities within local businesses, educational institutions and social organizations to cultivate greater cooperation between school district and community.
All my 8 children graduated from the district attending 4 elementary schools, 3 middle schools and 2 high schools. The youngest graduated in 2015. We live in Fry elementary area. My educational background is 4 years of college majoring in economic statistics in Czechoslovakia. I have stayed at home with my children. My involvement with schools, church and community has been mostly basic volunteering. In the past few years I devoted my time also to grassroots activism, for example I serve now as a republican precinct committee woman.
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I would like to serve on the board because I have a vast experience as a parent, I have time and I believe that I can bring positive change to our schools.
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I believe that we need to stress teachings of Constitution and history of America and work on unifying all our students as Americans.

Common Core was construed to further political agenda of the ruling party and not for the real advancement of educational opportunities for our children. I will advocate for freedom of information for our students, parents, teachers, taxpayers. I believe this is the most important issue and I am passionate about it because I grew up in a socialist state where freedom of information was non-existent. A byproduct of adopting the common core is that we now have financial difficulties.
Only when we are all fully informed we can make together the best decision for our children and our community.
Attendance area: Reside in May Watts’s attendance area. Three sons attended Watts and Hill Middle school. Older sons attended Waubonsie Valley; my youngest currently attends Metea Valley Education and career: • Masters of Social Work - Emphasis in Community Organization and Public Policy - Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois, Chicago • Licensure for School Social Work - Aurora University, Aurora, Illinois • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology - Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois Current Position: School Social Worker - Rollins Elementary School, East Aurora School District 131 Community Involvement: School Board Member IPSD 204, Member of the Community Alliance for Prevention, Naperville, IL, Leadership Team for Parent Diversity Advisory Council 204, Past Volunteer at May Watts, Hill Middle School, WVHS and MVHS, Past Volunteer Teacher for Religious Education, St. Thomas the Apostle.
In the eight plus years on the board, I have gained a depth of knowledge of the educational system, of the issues our administration grapple with, and a clear understanding of the challenges our teachers face. Most importantly, I understand what good leadership means and does for our district. As a parent and a social worker, I understand the challenges our students face, as well as the supports they need to succeed. I have been an advocate for continued efforts to collaborate and advocate with community organizations that can support families, as I believe schools cannot solve all problems. We need to work and learn together.
At the heart of my drive to work on the board of education for one of the greatest districts in the country, is understanding that we have the ability to shine the light on children. Our children are the future. It is our collective responsibility to protect, educate and nurture all of them. As an educator, a parent, a social worker, a homeowner, and citizen, I believe in the value of public schools. Indian Prairie School District #204 is achieving excellence because our community values children. I want to continue to build on the trust that has been cultivated, and advocate for the best education our students deserve.
I continue to see my role as student focused, with an understanding that my decisions keep the entire community in mind. I have continually educated myself, stayed involved in the community and advocated for public education at all levels of government. I am the Vice Chair of the DuPage Division of the Illinois Association of School Boards, and I have worked to make this a valuable avenue to collaborate and educate other boards on issues and concerns.
I advocate for changes to goals and policy that will have a positive effect on student’s lives. However, there is a valid argument for consistency. Each year the board discusses district goals thoroughly with the superintendent and administration. When we land, we land as a team. These goals have provided us a consistent measure for the superintendent and the board's work. They are also reflected in the Superintendent’s Contract and her Evaluation process. The most difficult goal to measure has been our achievement goal because we have had to struggle with some moving parts in the past six years. “Redefining Ready” is a new approach that is focusing on more than a test score. This will be something we explore.
I began dialogue circles ten years ago with the Parent Diversity Advisory Council. I knew then that the community needed to heal after the controversial boundary decisions and referendum for our third high school. The mark of a good public education is the smooth circular support between the community, board, administration and students. At times, the community helps move us in a direction, such as occurred with our adoption of STEM programs. The board and superintendent determine priorities through our mission and goals. Our policies provide clear expectations to stakeholders. This work has no beginning or end; it is ongoing. That is best practice.
1a) White Eagle Elementary attendance area; Two girls, One is a Senior at WVHS and one is a Junior at Howard University 1b) Educational background: Stuttgart American High School - Stuttgart, Germany; Rice University – BA in Business; and Columbia University – MBA in Management and Marketing. Current Occupation: Consultant – PR/Marketing and Not for Profit Youth Grant initiatives 1c) Involvement with the schools, district, or community: 15 year PTA Member – Past committee chair and board positions Indian Prairie Project Arrow PTA – Charter member/Co-author of charter bylaws IPSD Citizens Communications Committee (2007-2009) Girl Scout Leader – 8 years/Past Lisle Area Girl Scout Board Member Former IPSD substitute teacher
I have volunteered in the school district over 15 years, as a PTA member/officer/chair at my girls’ schools, I have substituted at all grade levels and have served on a district committee. Corporately, as a Viacom, Inc. Director, I had responsibility for a $33 MM budget. As a co-entrepreneur in the district, I have hired students and residents, and most recently have developed grant initiatives for young people in underserved, lower economic communities. I have the ability to sit on the Board with the perspective of a resident, guest educator, business person and my consulting role, has provided me with immense familiarity with the needs of the 20% of our population designated as low income.
I have been extremely active within our district for over 15 years at each school level, at the district and board level and as a business person, so my desire to serve and work on behalf of our children is a long-term passion. I am committed to advocating on behalf of ALL of our children and want to see our district nurture the best academic, athletic, artistic and trade opportunities for each and every student at every academic stage. I seek to represent those students who are ultimately destined for upper tier 4 year colleges, but will also advocate for those who will seek post-secondary success at top rated 2 year institutions and/or for those who will choose immediate employment at the conclusion of their IPSD education.
I view my role as a potential school board member to be one of champion and advocate for our students. It is imperative that a clear and strategic vision is set for our district; fiscal decisions are made that keep high academic attainment a priority; and that board members work collaboratively in the decision making progress. I will ensure I am well informed of all issues that affect our district, that I always keep the students first in all decisions I make as a school board member, and ensure that communication regarding potential board decisions is a two way process throughout the district.
I am not running to change our goals, but two areas that stand of paramount importance for me as I seek a position on the IPSD 204 Board are reducing the Achievement Gap disparity and ensuring our district is an active participant in determining state implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Our district is beginning to implement creative ways to elevate students performing below the district standardized testing average. Reducing the achievement gap by raising, lower performing student’s achievement, will not only result in a positive difference in their attainment, but will also positively affect our district’s overall state performance level. Achievement gap reduction is important for struggling students and their families, but it can be an auspicious contributor to our overall district success as well. The second area that is important to me as a candidate is the desire for IPSD 204 to continue to play an active role in the 2017-2018 roll out of the ESSA within Illinois. Certainly there may be changes with a new administration, but whatever is designed for implementation, it will be extremely beneficial for our district leadership to be a key agent in the development of the new policy. These new initiatives will impact our children, staff and communities for some time, and as our voice can be integral to development, we should take an active part from the community, school board, administration and staff stakeholder positions.
In 2007-2009, as our district grappled with boundary discussions and decisions, I served on our district’s IPSD Citizens Communications Committee, attending meetings throughout our district, interviewing residents and listening to concerns, suggestions and providing feedback to our board. I know firsthand how important an open dialogue is within the community. This is an area that is part of my platform and I will definitely advocate for our board to communicate via various mediums to keep the community abreast of board decisions. I will also be a strong advocate for community listening tours if we are faced with extremely difficult and far reaching decisions that will directly impact the day to day educational experience of our children and families.

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1a. I am an Aurora resident in the Reba Steck Elementary School, Fischer Middle School, and Waubonsie Valley High School attendance area. My only son attends first grade at Reba Steck Elementary School. 1b. I attended Hill Middle School, Gregory Middle School, and graduated from Waubonsie Valley High School in 1992. I have a Bachelor of Arts in History from Aurora University. I currently work as a Financial Consultant at Benjamin F. Edwards & Co in Naperville. I have worked in the finance industry since 2008. 1c. I attended district schools and graduated from district schools. worked for five years as a custodian in the district when I ran out of money during my time as an undergraduate at Aurora University. My ex-wife is a reading improvement specialist at McCarty Elementary School. I have been a runner for Team IPEF since 2014, helping to raise funds for Reba Steck school and various programs in the district.
I have worked in the finance industry since 2008. I understand finances and realize the importance making sure the school district continues to manage resources efficiently and effectively. If this does not continue in an even more transparent manner, involving the community, IPSD 204 could be facing a severe budget shortfall in the next five years. The IPSD 204 School Board needs someone like myself willing to make tough financial decisions. As a board we need to make sure the administration and faculty are able to implement positive changes to the district to benefit the students.
I have been a student, a graduate, an employee, a spouse and, a parent, in Indian Prairie School District 204 over the last thirty years. I was given the opportunity for an excellent education because I attended schools in this district. I know that my son will be attending schools within the district for the next 11 years. I was given the opportunity for an excellent education because I attended schools in this district. I am hopeful that my young son and all the students in this district receive the same opportunity. I want them to attend a district that celebrates and embraces diversity while helping them to achieve their greatest potential. There are going to be many decisions that need to be made over the next few years that and most of them will be financially related. This is an area I understand and I feel can bring an experienced viewpoint to the IPSD 204 Board of Education.
I envision being a team member on a non-partisan, diverse board that is working to allow students within the district to achieve their greatest goal. I will bring my background in finance but I will also listen and learn from the other board members who have a different skill set than myself. I will be an advocate for all the students by stressing that every decision the board does is fully transparent and done with the benefit of all students in mind. I will work with Dr. Sullivan and her team to empower them to help students achieve both in and out of the classroom. I will also work with legislators in Springfield to help them that we are a large, diverse district and that we should not be punished for being financially sound.
I don’t think there needs to be specific changes to district goals, rather I think the number one priority needs to be manage resources efficiently and effectively. If we do not continue to be a fiscally minded school board, we will not be able to achieve any of the other goals. I will also advocate to make sure we hire and retain a high quality, effective teaching staff. Teachers are the lifeblood of our district. Without a highly qualified, diverse teaching staff our students will not be able to achieve their greatest potential. I also think we need to utilize community resources even more effectively. I think we should explore more partnerships with area businesses. I would like to see where mentoring programs are developed with the primary age students. Bring local scientists in to demonstrate to classrooms of students how the lessons they are learning can turn into a career. I would like to see local tech companies offer high school age students an opportunity to learn to develop apps, build networks or write software. This would give them experience in a growing field and allow area businesses the opportunity to help develop practical workplace skills.
I will take every opportunity that I can to meet with the various groups of parents that represent different interests throughout the district. I will encourage parents to be advocates for their children. If they have ideas on how to improve the district. I will encourage them to present them to the board to be discussed. This may lead to assisting students and faculty throughout the district. I want to maintain the strong relationships with the advisory committees that have been established districtwide. They are a powerful voice for students that deserve an equal opportunity to succeed.

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