Thumbnail Profile: DePauw University, B.A. in history; Indiana University School of Law, J.D. Currently a contract attorney for Axiom in ediscovery litigation services. Began legal career with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office in the Consumer Protection Division; worked for Kubin-Nicholson, a family printing business, as account manager, corporate counsel and member of the Board for 17 years; later worked for two internet start-up companies as both an attorney and in business development. Resident of Evanston since 1990. Four children, including one at King Lab and one at Chute.

Civic Activities: St. Athanasius School Board in 2001; member of the Constitutional Rights Foundation that taught constitutional principles to middle school students in Chicago over a three-year period.

The importance of preparing students to be on track for college and career readiness, what the Board should do to ensure that is done:

“Before we can prepare our students for college or career readiness, District 65 must adopt the EXPLORE (ACT) test to accurately measure all of our student’s academic progress.  Identifying where District 65 is falling short academically, is the first step to solving the problem. As opined in these pages, the SAT-10 to measure college readiness was not supported by any study or independent research and that those percentiles substantially overstate the percent of eighth-graders who were on track to meeting college readiness as measured by ACT’s benchmarks.”

Summary of two or three top priorities as a Board member:

“With the precarious financial position of Springfield, the number one priority for the School Board is the continued vigilance on balancing the school budget so our tax dollars are more effectively directed toward the classroom and academic excellence and not directed to District 65’s bureaucracy. I will advocate for having taxpayer workshops to provide ideas to the School Board and District 65 on ways to cut costs and trim the budget. I will also advocate that a performance or forensic audit of the school budget be conducted every 5 years to identify budgetary waste.

“However, a major part of maintaining a balanced school budget is negotiating a 2012 Teacher Union contract that accurately reflects the budgetary constraints and the recent recessionary pressures that District 65 may face in the coming years. So, too, the School Board needs to negotiate with the Teacher’s Union for a longer school day and a longer school year.

“Though I support returning an elementary school to the Fifth Ward, the referendum is not comprehensive enough. The referendum should state a broader plan in returning District 65 to a neighborhood school system by building a new school in the Fifth ward and realigning the magnet schools to become neighborhood schools. I realize that this will require greater capital improvements to retrofit many of our schools in the district to make this transition, but the time is overdue to rebuild and strengthen Evanston’s neighborhoods, get kids off buses, and set long-lasting and common sense school boundaries in the district now and in the future.

“Lastly, I would like to advocate for parents with special needs children the McKay Scholarship, a voucher program that would allow parents the choice to place their special needs child in either a private or public school.”

What Mr. Rees says he brings to the table that would make him an effective Board member:

 “My varied and extensive career in government, the law and business has given me the skills and experience to articulate and advocate the necessary issues to keep District 65 on track both financially and educationally.”

Mr. Rees may be contacted at
reestartdistrict65@gmail.com

 

 

The candidate profiles were compiled by the RoundTable based on information provided by the five candidates for the District 65 School Board. The RoundTable asked each candidate to provide background information and to respond to three questions: 1) What is your view on the importance of preparing students to be on track for college and career readiness, and what the Board should do, if anything, to ensure that is done?; 2) Provide a summary of two or three or your top priorities as a Board member; and 3) what do you bring to the table that would make you an effective Board member? The RoundTable set a word limit for these three questions, so the candidates’ responses should be regarded as only a summary of their views.