Candidate profile: Katie Robberson

Name: Katie Robberson

Age: 39

Town: Edwardsville

Occupation: SIUE Instructor

Position seeking: District 7 School Board Member

Campaign website: www.katie4d7schools.com

Why are you running and why should people vote for you? Public education and public service have been paramount in my life. I grew up in a household with parents who are public educators, and I currently teach at a public state university. District 7 was a great experience for me as a student, and during my time as a student, I was very involved in numerous activities that taught me the importance of service. I currently have children in the District, and I’ve been involved in a volunteer capacity since my oldest child entered the District in 2012. A vote for me represents looking at new ways to maintain the expectations of the parents and community members that support District 7. I am experienced in building strong teams, and I feel that this skill set is of the utmost importance to build a strong District through the Board’s relationships with teachers, administrators, staff, parents, and the community at large.

What are the most important issues the school district faces, and how would you approach them? The first issue our District faces is to maintain the promises put in place with the passing of Proposition E. It is necessary that the School Board see the plan through to its finish. The plan will provide much needed debt reduction, new curriculum/textbooks, improved security, and improved technology. As a board member, I would ensure that these promises are kept by following the plan outlined during the referendum. Another vitally important issue for our District is community engagement and communication improvement. If elected to the Board, I plan to work to improve the flow of information to all audiences with which the District works. The final issue I see is looking for creative solutions to shortages caused by our lean financial position. I would work to engage the business community, grant writers, and other funding sources to help offset the money we do not receive from the State.

Under what circumstances would you vote to raise property taxes? I am typically financially conservative and believe that taxing bodies must spend within their means; however, I worked very hard to learn about school finance during my time on the Proposition E committee. It came to my attention that education finance is a complicated funding structure and requires mandates that most community members are unaware of. I chose to support Prop E due to the necessity of that tax increase to save District 7 from the state financial watch list, and potential state takeover. Raising taxes is not a decision I would take lightly, and it would consider very careful review and elimination of other alternatives for me to support another tax increase soon.

What are your goals for the district/what do you want to accomplish? I have several goals for District 7. They range from improved community engagement and communication to looking at ways to improve areas of curriculum and staff shortages that our district has faced since 2009. I firmly believe that our community is a wealth of opportunity for partnerships, and it is time that the school board and district look for creative ways to fill gaps in the curriculum and supportive services for our students. I would like to find new revenue streams, through partnerships, grants, etc. that would allow us to support the robust District our community has come to have pride in and expect.

What is your position on the proposed increase in minimum wage for teachers in Illinois? A school district can only be strong when it has teachers who are passionate about teaching and well trained. I look at this question from the perspective of any other business. This is a question about equity and a balance of inputs and outputs. I feel that a guaranteed minimum wage for teachers in Illinois makes a lot of sense. A sound wage will attract qualified people to the career field, and hopefully, give those already there reason to stay. Attrition in education is an enormous problem, and one that must be addressed if we will continue to provide quality education to the community.