As a candidate for the Board of Lake Forest High School, let me provide a bit of background. I am a life-long resident of Lake Forest and have called Lake Forest home for 58 years. I graduated from LFHS in 1977. After attending the College of Lake County, I transferred to the University of Illinois, graduating in 1982 with a degree in Accounting and Finance. Following in my father’s footsteps, I joined the United States Air Force. After Officer Training School and pilot training I served in the Air Force for 10 years before joining United Airlines in 1991. Along the way I earned an MBA from Cal State, graduating with honors. Remaining in the Air Force Reserve for another 15 years allowed me to rise to Lt. Colonel and flying squadron commander. In 2006 I was seriously injured in a military plane crash and was forced to medically retire from United and the Air Force. I then started a property owner/management firm in Lake Forest.
In 2013 I was unhappy with certain operations of LFHS and ran against the Lake Forest Caucus as an independent candidate because of my love and concern for LFHS. Being elected over the Caucus slate allowed me to be seated on the board in 2013. Two years later, my fellow board members promoted me to Board Secretary. Having earned their respect, I also served for four years on the Finance Committee, three years as chair of the Policy Committee as well as a board member of the Northern Suburban Special Education District (NSSED). That board also selected me to serve as the only board member on the NSSED Foundation Board. This has given me the experience and knowledge necessary to help lead LFHS and build on the many successes we have achieved in the past four years.
Now we have a hotly contested election with eight candidates vying for four open seats. There has been much said by some wishing to earn a seat on the board. Much is at stake for our community. Until this election cycle I have remained an independent board member. This time I was faced with three options: 1) join the Final Four (FF), 2) remain independent, or 3) join with the Caucus.
The Final Four approached me and offered me a position on their slate of candidates. We had several meetings. Unfortunately, there were strings attached — a demand that I vote in favor of certain personnel decisions; actions I did not agree with and as a sitting board member was prohibited from making or agreeing to outside of executive sessions. Continuing on as an independent board member as I had done the past four years and work with whatever four board members ended up being successful in the April election (contingent upon being elected myself). Or join with the three Caucus candidates and run alongside Tom Nemickas, Sally Davis and David Lane. It was an easy decision and I am honored to be a Lake Forest Caucus supported candidate. We ask for the support of the community as I run alongside my very talented caucus and community vetted candidates — Tom Nemickas, Sally Davis, and Dave Lane.
The Caucus did not ask me to give up my independence and vote a certain way. Their only request was that I continue to use my best judgment and work with my fellow board members for the betterment of the students, LFHS, and the broader community. To reiterate, there was no call or demand for me to give up my independence.
Finally, why does it matter to you and who do you want to represent you on the LFHS Board? The current board has been very successful, contrary to what the Final Four would have you believe with their alternative facts and smears. The current board is proud of recent accomplishments such as:
- Test scores are at an all time high – 26.4 on the most recent ACT test; best in class and including ALL students, not a limited sample.
- AP course participation is way up – 59% increase while maintaining a 95% pass rate – best among our peer districts.
- Strong financial controls are in place – one of only 73 school districts in the nation with an S&P rating of AAA and Moody’s rating of Aaa. We also just refinanced existing debt, saving taxpayers over $1 million dollars. Reserves of 10-15% are maintained. We also enjoy the lowest tax rate of any high school district in Lake County.
- The talk about de-tracking is a red herring. The high school has simply empowered the students to stretch themselves to be their best. Barriers to higher-level classes such as prerequisites that previously limited them, have been removed and with the aid of teachers and counselors, students are allowed to be the very best they can be and take appropriate level courses – something we all should be proud of and support.
- As a relative measure, we will always have a higher ratio of administrative personnel to students than our peer districts. We are a much smaller high school than New Trier or Stevenson. We have 1,700 students compared to their 4,000 or more students. We still require one principal as they do. Same for other staff positions. This naturally skews the numbers.
- Being a small, almost boutique type school is actually an advantage. Our staff can know the students and vice versa. We offer the same programs the larger schools do and our students have greater opportunities to participate in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities because they aren’t competing against 4,000 other students for limited opportunities.
These are just a few of the reasons I am proud and honored to ask the community to vote for the Caucus vetted and supported candidates. Please cast your ballot for Tom Nemickas, Sally Davis, David Lane, and myself. We have steered the Lake Forest High School onto the right track over the past four years and are confident we can continue to do so over the next four years.
Note: Early voting for Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Knollwood residents is now open. Early voting for all is at Lake Forest City Hall during normal business hours. Cast your vote today!
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