Candidate profile: Neil Giffhorn

Neil Giffhorn
Neil Giffhorn

Name: Neil A. Giffhorn

Age: 41

Immediate Family members: Rachel Giffhorn (wife), Josie Giffhorn (daughter, 12), Robert Giffhorn (son, 2)

Town: Waterloo

Office seeking: Waterloo CUSD #5 School Board

Occupation: Attorney

Previous and current elected offices and terms served: None

Why are you running? I have a 12 year old daughter who attends the Waterloo school as well as a two year old son who will start there all too soon also. Because of them, I want to see the school district continue to provide the excellent education it has in the past. I also want to see our public school education balanced with the interests of the taxpayers of the district. My hope is to personally repay my community a little for providing my family with so much.

What is the most important issue facing the Waterloo Community Unit School District? How would you approach it? The largest single problem is consistent and adequate funding, pure and simple. The funding from the State of Illinois to our schools is uncertain at best with no good answer in sight from Springfield. There is no silver bullet for this problem. Budget cuts are difficult, but finding new revenue is not any easier. To date the school district has done a great job of keeping a balance between quality and taxpayer cost and I would encourage that the School Board continue that effort. I have seen firsthand some of the great teachers we have at our schools and the beneficial programs that those teachers and our school provides. Keeping a balanced budget seems to be something forgotten in Illinois government, but I am a firm believer in it for the sake of everyone and will advocate for this.

Should a school district’s teacher demographics mirror that of its student demographics? Why or why not? I believe that teachers should be judged on their abilities, accomplishments, and credentials. Therefore hiring teachers should be based their ability to teach, educate, and stir a passion to learn within the students that they work with on a daily basis. In my opinion, this will be of the utmost benefit to our students far beyond the time they spend within our schools.

How much emphasis should your school district put on STEM education? Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math should be keystones in our education system. The future of our nation rests on producing smart, skilled workers that can compete with the global economy. We must not forget that producing a well-rounded student is essential as well for our future and music, art, literature, etc. spur the imagination and with that innovation. Every student should be encouraged to pursue their interests while still acquiring a strong core education that will benefit them in the future. Our teachers and administrators should develop the curriculum for our schools around math, science, and technology, but well balanced with other subjects at the same time. This should be done and controlled on the local level and not under strict rules and regulations created by bureaucrats in Washington.

Why should people vote for you? I personally have a lot riding on our schools. As a father of children who currently attend and will attend the school, I want the very best for them and by extension their classmates. As a lifelong resident of Monroe County with virtually all my family living in the county, I understand the issues that face our community and families. I can bring that perspective, along with my experience and background as an attorney to the Board. I want the best for our community because it means I have tried to bring the best to my family.