School Board Candidate: Tom Powers

School Board Candidate:  Tom Powers

Alleigh VandeMerkt, Staff Reporter

Below are the unedited responses from school board candidate Tom Powers to the RBHS Clarion school board candidate survey.  All candidates were given an opportunity to respond to this survey.


What issue needs the most improvement at Riverside Brookfield High School and why?

Communication: I believe in RB. I also believe that every institution can benefit from fresh perspective and challenges to the status quo. Whether it’s the Illinois School Code, No Child Left Behind or collective bargaining, many items that drive the school are constricted by mandates, rules and laws. There needs to be a focus by the district to help the community understand the drivers behind decisions. There also needs to be a conscientious effort to remove any cloak of secrecy – whether perceived or real – and assure the community, the staff and the students that the sole goal of the board, the administration, and the staff is to provide a platform for the students to achieve greatness.

 How do you plan to improve this issue if elected to the school board?

I will go into this position with an open, independent and un-biased approach. I will look at the items presented to the board through the following filters: Is it right for the students? Can we afford it? And is it best practice? I will work with the administration to improve the way the district communicates with public. I will work to make the website more robust, to post board and committee public information on the website and to make sure the community feels that the board has the best interest of the students AND the best interest of the community as the primary focus.

What is your relevant experience prior to running for the school board?

For the past 8 years I have been a member of District 95 (Brookfield/LaGrange Park) School board. During that time I served on every committee (finance, buildings and grounds, policy, communication and curriculum) – and I am currently the Vice President of the Board (my term expires this year) and Chairman of the Buildings and Ground Committee.

Why do you want to serve on the school board?

I believe in serving your community and that it is important for the citizens to actively participate in community matters. RB has made enormous strides in the 18 years I have lived in the community and I want to be part of continuing that legacy. I want to do what I can to make sure that the school is as strong, as challenging and as respected for my 7th grade daughter.

What do you believe you will be able to contribute to the school board?

My experience with District 95 over the last 8 years has provided an enormous amount of direct experience. While at District 95 I have participated in hiring two superintendents, two principals, two directors of special education, passing one referendum for the education fund, implementing a $10,000,000 renovation project and addition to our two schools and aligning and expanding the curriculum. During my tenure we also negotiated three teacher contracts including the current contract that is tied to the CPI (how districts receive their funding) and has a merit based goal system that challenges the teachers to innovate and rewards them for success. We achieved all of this while maintaining financial recognition from the State of Illinois. I believe this experience, coupled with my desire to continue to raise the bar in every area, will be an asset to the district and the board.

What sets you apart from any of the other candidates running?

I can’t really comment on the other candidates as I do not really know them nor am I aware of their specific attributes. I can say that I will approach the District 208 board the same way I have approached the District 95 board, open to new ideas and approaches, challenging the status quo and always putting the students first.