Candidate profile: Matt Lloyd

Matthew Lloyd
Matthew Lloyd

Name: Matt Lloyd

Age: 49

Family: Wife Kristen, daughter Alex, daughter Caitlin, son Jack

Town: O’Fallon

Office Seeking: O’Fallon School District 90 Board of Education

Occupation: Analyst, NGA

Previous Offices: Appointed to Dist 90 Board in September 2016

Why are you running? I have always felt an obligation to give back to the country and communities which have provided myself and my family so many opportunities. While serving in the Air Force for 25 years, the frequent moves limited my local service to volunteering through Scouts or coaching my kid’s sports teams. Once we chose to settle in O’Fallon following my retirement from the USAF, the chance to take on greater responsibility presented itself. The schools in O’Fallon are superior and have paid and continue to pay great dividends for my family. I truly feel called to pay back that debt by helping continue the district’s legacy of education excellence.

What is the most important issues facing O’Fallon School District 90? How would you approach it? I think the most important issue facing our district, and probably all districts across the state, is finances. Excellent schools and a premier educational experience do not come cheap. Finding a way to fund premier facilities, teachers, staff, and programs will be the great challenge in our future. Adding to this challenge is the constant questions of whether the state of Illinois will meet its funding obligations as well as how do we support promises made to our teachers. We will have to be extremely judicious in the choices we make to avoid crippling debt while allowing for growth and maintaining our current facilities and educational performance.

Should a school district’s teacher demographics mirror that of its student demographics? Why or why not? I think what is most important is we have the best, most qualified teachers possible. I certainly see the value in students seeing teachers who reflect themselves, but finding teachers with superior talent should be the priority. What I really enjoy about O’Fallon is how many of our teachers live in O’Fallon. I think when you have the strong cadre of teachers we do, and you see and interact with them both in and out of school throughout the community, a great partnership and network of support is created.

How much emphasis should your school district put on STEM education? STEM education is important. We live in an increasingly technical world, and developing STEM skills is no longer an advantage but a requirement. I majored in engineering and the mental discipline and systematic approach to problem solving I was taught have served me well in my career and life. However, even more important is teaching our kids to think critically. Being able look at a problem or issue, research and develop options, and implement workable solutions are necessary skills which I have found to be in short supply among many adults. Finally, we must ensure our children can express themselves fully and eloquently. Many great ideas fail because leaders are not able to make a compelling argument. Math, science and the STEM related subjects are very important. But so are reading, writing, and the humanities. It isn’t enough to be technically brilliant. If our kids can’t convey their ideas, or frame their argument within context of history or current events, they will find success difficult to achieve.

In St. Clair County, there will be votes for two sales tax referendums. One would benefit school facility costs, one would benefit public safety. Do you support either or both of the referendums? Why or why not? Yes on both. I think the penny increase for school infrastructure provides a low impact (for many, I do appreciate taxes such as these hit lower income citizens harder) method to raise funds to deal with facility costs, particularly maintenance on aging buildings. A countywide approach works to reduce individual taxpayer impact by spreading the shared burden. We in O’Fallon should care what is happening in other communities. The state of schools in our neighboring towns does have an impact on life in our own. Public safety is obviously important and recent headlines continue to make that point. I feel this is a small increase which will deliver substantial results in keeping us all safer wherever we are in St Clair County.

Why should people vote for you? I am a hard worker with a proven record of leadership and service both in the military and the community. My family chose O’Fallon as our last move and intend to continue serving here. I have lived in O’Fallon long enough to develop a wide circle of contacts and develop a great feel for its strengths and potential areas for improvement. However, I am not tied down by long standing issues, conflicts, or “the way we have always done things here.” I have a systematic yet creative approach to problem solving and feel I can work across the community to move the district forward. During my short time on the board, I have tried to be open and accessible to everyone, responding to every contact as soon as possible, and pledge I will continue to do so. I look forward to the opportunity to continue serving my neighbors on the O’Fallon District 90 School Board.

How should the school district approach current budgetary challenges? The district should continue to avoid spending money we don’t have. Running deficits is not the way government should operate. The district must continue to prioritize effectively, ensuring the “must do’s” are accomplished then evaluate if the “nice to do’s” are within budget. The district also must be looking ahead. I think there needs to be a vision for where the district will be 10, 15, 20 years into the future. If the town continues to grow and develop, especially as building continues in the North and West, how will the district serve those students. What are we going to do if the projected numbers of students outstrip the capacity of our current facilities, three of which are close to each other in the South and East. We need to start considering our options and developing plans. Yes, things may change or some options may not be popular. But we should consider all alternatives and cover all the bases. It will cost less in the long run to plan now, then to scramble later when a need is imminent. That just seems fiscally prudent.