Below are the answers to the questionnaire provided to candidates in the Waukegan School Board election. You can learn more about the functions of the school board here. Survey responses were not received from candidates Dawn Johnson, Edgar Castellanos, and Jeff McBride, and we were unable to reach Oscar Arroyo Jr.
Dr. Harlene Ricks Shipley was born and raised in Waukegan. She attended Whittier Elementary, Daniel Webster Jr. High, graduated from Waukegan High School and attended Western Illinois University. In 1979, Dr. Shipley began teaching in Waukegan District #60. She taught students, grades 4th – 12th, who were diagnosed with behavior disorders and learning disabilities. I taught at Lyon and Greenwood Elementary as well as Waukegan High School-Brookside. After 16 years, she became an assistant principal at Jefferson MS, a principal at Jack Benny MS and a central office
She earned the degree of Bachelor of Science from Western Illinois University, the degree of Master of Education from National- Louis University, a General Administrative Certification from Northern Illinois University and the degree of Doctor of Education, from Loyola University, Chicago. Dr. Shipley currently serves on the Waukegan Historic Preservation Commission and the College of Lake County Education Department Advisory Board, Grayslake, IL. She recently served on the Promotion/Retention Committee and Discipline Committee in Waukegan Community School District #60.
Dr. Shipley is married with 2 children and 2 grandchildren.
Why are you running for Waukegan School District Board?
I am running for the Waukegan School Board because the present school board is unable to govern in such a way which provides the best educational opportunities and improved academic achievement for ALL students. According to the Board’s own statements (see WPS website-Board of Education), this governing should include: clarifying the district’s purpose, ensuring organizational effectiveness and establishing positive relationships with all aspects of the community. The community at large, including myself, continuously questions whether or not these things are occurring.
What are the most important issues facing the school district?
I have identified several issues that need to be addressed. They include the need to:
1. increase academic achievement and opportunities for ALL students.
2. eliminate wasteful spending and recycle taxpayer dollars into Waukegan and Lake County.
3. embrace, not just increase, parent/guardian and community involvement and partnerships.
I also want to work to:
- improve athletics, sports teams and school clubs
- increase accountability for Central Office administration
- increase programs to provide more options after graduation
- improve partnerships with local organizations and businesses
- update Board Policies to include accountability, transparency and equity
- monitor parent, community and staff concerns and the solutions offered
How will you initiate change in the district?
My list is rather extensive! But the first change I would like to see is the members of the Board of Education reaffirm they are in fact the governing body of the district; chosen by the taxpayers and have the responsibility to develop policies, make fiscally responsible decisions, etc. that are designed to enhance student achievement. Also to have the expectation of the superintendent to bring forth recommendations and the general counsel to provide advice which support this philosophy.
I would address the 138 questions that I have written down after reading the 2020 Illinois School Code and Related Laws which include the absence of certain governing procedures, policy violations, omissions of mandated curriculum, etc.
I would like to see the programming, initiatives, scope and sequence, implementation plan, monitoring system, evaluation criteria, professional development, persons’ responsible, budgetary amount/funding source, etc which support:
- consistency and collaboration between grade levels/schools
- curriculum alignment to help address things like the mobility rate
- consistent curriculum-based, state, etc. assessment schedule
- hiring paraprofessionals for general education classrooms K- 5 to support math and reading classes
- professional development for teachers/staff in culturally relevant teaching
- hiring more paraprofessionals for Pre K
- increased parent/community involvement in sports activity structures
- increased financial support for school clubs to eliminate all the time spent fundraising
- more options for graduates due to expanding coursework options for example, in computer repair,
- programming, graphic design, entrepreneurship, mechanics, cosmetology, etc.
- partnerships with local businesses which will create internships, after school jobs, etc.
- reduction of private/therapuetic day placements ( pre covid $ 5 million)
- reduction of disproportionality in discipline, special placement, etc.
- reimbursement for teachers’ for all “classroom” costs during COVID on-line learning
- increased student wellness supports for the General Education classrooms
- MTSS supports which actually help the teachers address some of student issues in the General
- Education classrooms.
- the Board must stop voting to outsource jobs to so many people outside of Lake County
- develop a policy about posting jobs for in district candidates
- develop a moratorium on hiring Central Office/Leadership/ Cabinet positions
- develop a policy about in country recruitment and timelines to seek applicants
There are many other things which I feel the Board of Education in District #60 could do to improve student achievement. It is not acceptable for only 20% of our students to be ready to move to the next grade level. Covid has created even more challenges for our students but the Board must have the expectation that student achievement can and will move forward.