Name: Robert Werden
Office seeking: Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools
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City of residence: Dorsey
Campaign website: WorkingWithWerden.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I am running for this office to make a positive difference in the lives of all Madison County students, to make sure that our schools are safe, and our tax dollars are spent efficiently. I am also a strong proponent of Career and Technical (Vocational) Education and know that our schools need to offer more of these courses. People should vote for me because I will bring real classroom experience, educational administration experience, and fiscal responsibility to the office of Regional Superintendent.
What qualifications do you have for this position? Serving in education as a teacher, coach, FFA advisor, and administrator, I have over 24 years of experience working with students, teachers, staff, and families on many different levels and have the advantage of bringing those viewpoints and perspectives to the office.
There have been efforts by Madison County school districts to levy a sales tax for school infrastructure reasons. The efforts have failed. Would you support these efforts in the future? Why or why not? Yes, if the referendum was written in such a manner that guarantees property tax relief to the taxpayers of Madison County. Our schools have been hit hard by the state of Illinois’ financial mismanagement and need to look at alternative funding sources. Taxpayers need relief at the same time. A sales tax on top of skyrocketing property taxes only adds to the total amount of money our citizens are being asked to contribute. If written properly, our schools could benefit from more funds from a sales tax and our property taxes could be lowered at the same time. This must be written in the law as to assure the property tax payers will see some relief, not just a “promise” of relief from some school boards.
What is the biggest issue facing the ROE? How would you handle it? The biggest issue facing the Regional Office of Education is the fluctuations in funding from the State and maintaining the same level of services to our students, teachers, and schools. With the increase in the number of state mandates, constant communication with local school districts is imperative and financial efficiency in the office is paramount. I will make sure the Madison County Regional Office of Education utilizes each dollar to get the best return on investment for the schools of Madison County.
What do you believe the ROE can do to improve education in Madison County? The Madison County Regional Office of Education can do many things to improve education in Madison County. It can help schools navigate through the numerous mandates passed by our legislators, provide services to school districts in regards to working with students and addressing their needs, work with teachers to help them learn new and best practices in their respective fields, and promote more vocational education opportunities for our students.