Robert O. Harris

Candidate Name: Robert O. Harris

Office Seeking: School District 204 School Board

Campaign Website: drharris204.com

Subdivision/Neighborhood: Timber Creek

Closest School: Neuqua Valley HS

Occupation and/or Professional Training: Program Director and Asst. Professor College of Business

How long in years have you been a Naperville resident? 18 years

Service on Boards, Commissions, Task Forces, etc. with dates served (nonprofit too): 

Chicago Red Cross- Vice President Training 2010-2011

Roosevelt University Advisory-Vice President 2016-2018

The following answers have only been edited for formatting purposes.

1. Why are you running to serve the board of education? 

Serving on the 204 Board is an opportunity to provide my skills as an educator, community resident, equity advocate, and academic administrator. This is an opportunity to share my professional experience. I have over 20 years real world teaching and advisory experience with K-12, Community College and Universities. Therefore, I want to collaborate with the 204-school district leadership, parents, and stakeholders to provide the best educational services and outcomes for all students. I want to increase student success and excellence.

2. What is the school district’s most pressing need? 

One of the ongoing goals is to inspire all students to achieve their greatest ambitions and potential. Let us establish and maintain successful pathways (STEM, Athletic, Arts and career opportunities) for all students to achieve. Additionally, let’s press for more parent involvement in curriculum, safety planning, student support services, special needs and advance course selection. Respect all cultures 24/7, 365 days per year.

3. What are your thoughts on the school district’s programs dedicated toward special education students, English Language Learners (ELL), students in the middle and gifted students?

Our students deserve all the attention and resources available so they can become leaders and participants in the global community. Let’s remove any limitations or artificial barriers preventing student programmatic access, mobility and access to technology. We have an opportunity today to establish empowering relationships with all parents and students that can be transformative.

4. Name three District 204 policies that need review or immediate attention.

After careful review of the IPSD 204 Board of Education Policy Manual, I suggestion ongoing review and practice in the following areas: Curriculum, Achievement, and Equity.

5. How often are you in touch with members of the current School Board? And do you attend/watch school board meetings live or after they’re saved in the archive?

Since my involvement in the election, my contact and communication has increased 100%. For may years, I watched the meetings via TV or YouTube.

6. What up-and-coming City of Naperville/City of Aurora development will impact School District 204 funding the most? As a board member, where would you look to make budget adjustments?

According to the Chicago Tribune Newspaper 2/03/2021… Developers choosing to build multifamily dwellings in the portion of Naperville located in Indian Prairie School District 204 might have to shell out more money for schools if the city adopts a new formula for determining impact fees. The Naperville City Council agreed to consider District 204′s request to adjust the city’s land/cash ordinance based on recent data provided by a demographic consultant hired by the district. District 204 appealed to the cities of Aurora and Naperville to change the impact fee formulas, city officials said they needed details from experts on how the calculations should be adjusted.

7. In a public relations role, how would you orientate a new family to the school district?

First understand the family aspirations for the student(s), parent-student goals, and resource time. Review the successful 204 District history (students, faculty, and staff), review academic programs, additionally review social-cultural activities and career-opportunity pathways upon graduation. Basically, map a successful pathway for the family and student.

8. Consider K-12 core curriculum to include English (reading, language arts writing), science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts (STEAM), foreign languages, computer science, civics/government/current events, economics, history, geography, physical education/health and social-emotional learning standards. If the school district were forced to eliminate a subject in order to add a new one, what would you eliminate? Any thought of what you would add at what grade level? What’s the parents’ role in monitoring curriculum changes and choices?

I would be hard pressed to object removal. Any thought of what you would add at what grade level? Adding additional courses is a natural consideration. I would advocate for adding courses that increase achievement, meet K-12 standards, and provide meaningful student experience. What’s the parents’ role in monitoring curriculum changes and choices? District 204 Parents engagement is vital to the success of students. Most of all, parent involvement is a vital voice for the School Board and Superintendent. Parent involvement can help add, change, or remove curriculum and policy.

9. Research reveals that high self-esteem and student achievement are closely related to positive parental involvement in school. Considering growing interest in school choice, home-schooling and private schools, what are your thoughts on school vouchers?

I believe in the freedom of parents to make evidenced based decision for their children. As educational professionals, we also need to provide as much information and observation possible to help parents make this vital choice. As a School board candidate, I believe in the power of District 204 to provide a remarkable educational, safe, and rewarding experience for all children. Additionally, I am interested in working daily to remove all constraints and barriers.

10. When was the last time you read the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?

January 6th, and today.

11. Have you received any donations or endorsements from any organized group(s)? If so, which groups?

Not yet. I expect to receive support, donations, and support from community, civic, sorority, and fraternal affiliations.

12. Name the school teacher who most influenced you. Please include grade, school, city and state. (Parents/family are not eligible.)

Freeman Hraboski has served as President of UMBC (The University of Maryland, Baltimore County) since 1992. His research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance.

He is often heard using this quote from Aristotle, “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for the opportunity.

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