A note from Julie Starkman Gordon
“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
My name is Julie (Starkman) Gordon, and I am running as a candidate in the April 4, 2017 election to serve a second term on the Township High School District 113 Board of Education. I am excited and humbled at the opportunity to continue my efforts to positively impact the lives of all students in the District, as well as bring value to the overall community. I am grateful for the endorsement of the District 113 caucus of community members. I look forward to continuing to listen to and interact with a broad group of citizens across Highland Park, Deerfield, Highwood, Bannockburn and Riverwoods to best understand the diverse needs and wants of our entire community.
As stated in our School Board’s Statement of Values, “Our schools are a reflection of our values and of our community”. We are very fortunate to live in a District where education is highly valued by the community, and where we have supportive parents, incredible teachers and a strong school board. It is important to focus on continuous improvement of our schools to ensure we maintain and grow the level of excellence we all expect and demand.
We do face significant financial issues in our schools due to expenses increasing at a faster rate than revenue, partly due to unfunded state mandates, decreasing state and federal funding and increasing educational technology requirements. Together with the realism of challenging economic times and increasing taxes, the need for a Board and community to balance investment and cost is tougher than ever.
I believe that the goal of ensuring the success of our students needs to be at the center of all decisions a school board member makes. Providing a well-rounded education that allows all students to learn and succeed at a high level--academically, mentally and physically--will continue to be my top priority.
As a member of the Board, my role would be to represent the community and work with the administration to set the goals, the policies, and the budget that strike the right balance. We can and must provide our students with an excellent education, while respecting our taxpayers’ dollars.
I ask for your support in my candidacy and for your vote in the April election. I believe that my background, my qualifications and my personal skills all contribute to my strength as a candidate. In addition, my retirement status enables me to have the time and energy necessary to devote to this important role over the next four years.
Thank you for your consideration!
- Retired, December 2010
- Executive Officer (President and C-Level roles), reporting to CEO, Hewitt Associates, 2005-2010 (responsible for significant parts of a $3 Billion and 23,000 employee global HR outsourcing and consulting business)
- North American Market Leader, Retirement Business, Hewitt Associates, 2002-2005
- Actuary (Pension; Retiree Medical) and Business Leader, Hewitt Associates, 1978-2002
- Township High School District 113, Board of Education, 2013-current (Vice President, 2015-current)
- Junior Achievement USA, Board of Directors, 2009-2012
- Junior Achievement Chicago, Board of Directors, 2009-2012
- Women-in-Leadership (Hewitt), Governance Council, 2007-2010
- Hewitt Associates, Board of Directors (as public company), 2002-2009
- Hewitt Associates, Executive Committee (as private company), 2000-2002
- Hewitt Associates, Benefits Committee, 1991-2006
- University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Bachelor of Science, Actuarial Science, 1978
- Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, 1984
- American Academy of Actuaries, 1984
- Enrolled Actuary, 1982
- Married to Richard Gordon (for 34 years!)
- Three kids--Amy (31), Daniel (26) and Allyson (16), and a son-in-law Willy (32)
- Brother in District 113 (HPHS)-- Michael Starkman, his wife Deb and kids Elliot (16) and Aaron (12)
- Husband’s brother in District 113 (DHS)--Fred Gordon, his wife Kim and kids Sarah (17) and Samantha (13)
Why Vote for Julie Starkman Gordon?
My background and qualifications only matter to prospective voters if they contribute to reasons for why I’m a strong candidate for the District #113 board. In the table below, I’ve mapped how my extensive governance, business, education and personal background will all provide value to the District:
In addition, you’ll find that I am open minded and level-headed (perhaps a credit to the actuarial training!), and I have the patience, listening skills and demeanor to help teams to positive outcomes. These skills will be important as we continually balance the needs of all constituencies on significant District issues.
Accomplishments, Priorities, and Perspectives
The Illinois Association of School Boards states that my mission, as a school board member, is "excellence in local school governance in support of quality public education."
Over my first term on the school board, since May 2013, I have worked hard with our Board and District/School administrators to define the ‘excellence’ and ‘quality education’ parts of our mission, and to ensure we have the right leadership, staff, structure and goals to fulfill our mission. We have accomplished a great deal that ensures our schools continue to be highly rated, and positions our current and future students to be successful, including:
- Enhancing our curriculum and the long-term curriculum planning process to better ensure alignment with student interest and with 21st century needs;
- Modifying hiring processes for all staff, improving assurance of a robust candidate pool and best in class selection;
- Completing (Spring 2017) our $89 million referendum building project, on-time, on-budget and on-scope, ensuring that our facilities match our high level educational standards;
- Changing our budgeting process to be more inclusive and transparent;
- Maintaining a very strong financial position in the face of mounting pressures, allowing us to continue to invest in needed areas;
- Upgrading board and district communications, internally and externally, improving transparency, timeliness and accuracy of all reporting;
- Improving our teacher assessment processes and implementing remedies to improve effectiveness;
- Strengthening board governance, improving board effectiveness, and enhancing board visibility and community out-reach; and
- Successfully hiring and transitioning key leadership roles throughout the district and schools.
While I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last few years, we still have much work to do to ensure our schools continue to be highly rated and represent our community values and expectations around excellence in education.
I’m very excited that we are in the final stages of completing an ambitious long-term strategic plan, reflecting input from District 113 staff, students, parents and community members, to guide our future investments and focus. Alongside the strategic plan, we are also developing the district metrics and key-performance indicators (KPIs) that will help the board and community assess progress towards strategic goals.
Priorities over the next several years will include:
- Continuing the enhancement of curriculum and instructional practices;
- Improving student wellness, and reducing alcohol and substance abuse in a meaningful way;
- Ensuring teaching excellence, and reviewing and modifying ineffective processes and practices, such as unnecessary homework, and inconsistent grading within department;
- Supporting our staff by providing appropriate professional development and growth opportunities, ensuring sound assessment practices and promoting a culture of care and trust;
- Supporting our new leadership in the District and schools so they can be successful in their roles;
- Continuing to enhance the Board’s and District’s communications and relationships with all stakeholders; and
- Building on the success of our facilities referendum, with the creation of a long-term facilities plan to serve as a roadmap for future ongoing capital investments.
As we focus on all of these and other exciting priorities, we need to be mindful of the significant fiscal issues facing the district, and all school districts. In addition to ongoing cost pressures from staff salaries (the largest budget line item), unfunded state mandates and other fixed and variable expenses, our finances are challenged by several years of very low increases in revenue. Multiple years of record low CPI levels, declines in State and Federal funding, and a potential freeze in local property tax revenue, are all negatively impacting the funds readily available for investments, forcing some difficult decisions and increasing the importance of prioritization.
The Illinois state pension crisis, and the proposed disposition of the unfunded liabilities on our school district, also poses a daunting threat to all future school budgets. As a pension actuary with 26 years of certified experience, I am uniquely qualified to assist the District in understanding the pension situation and our options.
With all financial and non-financial issues, I believe in certain tenets of good governance:
- Transparency and open communications
- Honesty and responsiveness
- Respect of all constituencies
- Equity and Inclusiveness
- Effectiveness and efficiency
- Data-driven decision making
With these priorities and tenets of good governance and the continued support of the community, I am confident that we will continue to enhance the value of our schools and our community, and the quality of education we deliver for all students.
Early voting begins March 20th, and Election Day is April 4, 2017. The last day to register for the April 2017 election is March 7th. The following four candidates will be on the ballot, in the order shown, for the District 113 School Board to serve four-year terms. Three seats (of the seven-member) Board of Education will be filled at this election. For detailed voter information, including information on registration, click here.
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