Candidate profile: Timothy Petersen

What you need to know about the April 2019 election

The 2019 municipal election is April 2. Here are some key dates and times you need to know if you're planning to vote.
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The 2019 municipal election is April 2. Here are some key dates and times you need to know if you're planning to vote.

Name: Timothy Petersen

Age: 49

Town: Mascoutah

Occupation: Industrial Engineer

Position seeking: Mascoutah School Board

Campaign website: https://facebook.com/timpetersenmsd19/

Why are you running and why should people vote for you? My wife Suzanne and I moved to Mascoutah after getting married in 1997. When looking for a place to live, we compared a number of communities in the area before making the final decision. We both enjoyed the smaller town “feel” and were impressed with the historical ratings of MSD19. Throughout the years, we have had three children who all have been a part of Mascoutah schools. Our oldest, Gabrielle, graduated in 2017 and currently attends SIUC. Elijah is a junior in high school, and Isaiah is an 8th grader. I have been involved with the Mascoutah Little Indians organization since 2009. I currently serve as the director of football coaches, and I have coached middle school football for the past 5 years. Through my work at Boeing, I was aware of an opportunity for grant money through Robotics First and a niche that needed to be filled at MHS, and now Mascoutah High School has a Robotics Club where I serve as an adviser. The RoboIndians will be competing in their first first robotics (https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc) competition in March. Having students in the district has allowed me to experience first-hand the quality education and rigor that MSD19 provides for students. As the world around us changes, so do the needs of our students., I have pushed for an increase in STEM opportunities. Having spent some time researching the annual school report card for MSD19, I noticed that over the preceding few years, the district’s scores had been slowly declining in the areas of science and math. My concern over this decline in scores and my belief that one should be “a solution to the problem and not just a source of complaints” originally led me to run for School Board four years ago. I am currently finishing out my first term. I have tried my best to drive the district to better define programs, processes, budgets, and goals. The last four years have taught me a lot about the inner functions of a school system, as well as some of the unique characteristics of MSD19. I believe I have made a strong and positive impact on our system and the resulting education of our community’s children. I have enjoyed being more involved with MSD19, not only from the point of view of a person who helps define the path, but also as a coach and mentor who helps the kids walk that path. Because of this, I would like to continue serving as an MSD19 board member.

What are the most important issues the school district faces, and how would you approach them? The first thing I always focus on when I look through board notes or attend any committee meetings are the districts’ finances. Are we appropriately using the school districts’ money for the greatest impact for our students? When working with the administration on a budget, we must always make decisions with respect to our impact aid situation and the “95 percent level.” The next largest issue we face as a school district is attracting and retaining the best teachers we can and equipping them with the tools and resources they need to achieve the districts’ goal of “every child every day”.

Under what circumstances would you vote to raise property taxes? MSD19 in many ways is a unique school district. One of the ways we are unique is the school’s financing model. Mascoutah School District is one of a few small districts that reside within the heavy impact aid category. This is because of our significant student population associated with Scott Air Force Base. Because MSD19 is listed within this impact aid category, we are granted a significant amount of additional funds from the state. However, one of the measures that is used to determine our qualifications for heavy impact aid is where we effectively rank in our taxes compared to other districts within the state. We must be within 95 percent of maximum range. If we fall outside of that range, we will fall out of the extra funding model. That would equate to a significant portion of our budget going away. So, in an effort to stay within that 95 percent range, I would vote for tax increases, because without that additional impact aid, our taxes would have to be increased significantly more.

What are your goals for the district/what do you want to accomplish? My goal is for our district is to be a leader within the groupings of school districts that MSD19 compares to (https://www.illinoisreportcard.com/Default.aspx). In particular, I would like to significantly increase our schools STEM programs.

What is your position on the proposed increase in minimum wage for teachers in Illinois? Like many states, Illinois is feeling the effects of significantly fewer students graduating college with a teaching degree. This has placed a huge strain on many school districts that are seeking highly qualified teachers. Even retaining qualified substitutes is a challenge on some days. Many college graduates are finding jobs within other industries to be far more lucrative than teaching. In an effort to attract more teachers to our school systems and keep highly qualified teachers in our district, an increase in wages could go a long way. It could also encourage more college students to enter the teaching field. On the other hand, a significant increase could also have negative impact on many small school districts’ finances. If, however, the state funding model took this new minimum into account when making appropriations, the impact could be minimized, and our school systems would be better positioned to staff the schools to meet the needs of our students.