What you need to know about the April 2019 election
Name: Tallin Curran
Town: Granite City
Occupation: Information Technology & Facilities Manager, Six Mile Regional Library District
Position Seeking: Board Member, Granite City Community Unit School District #9
Campaign website: www.tallincurran.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I am running because I think I can make a difference to the students, parents, guardians, staff, and faculty in our school district. My oldest daughter currently attends 1st grade at Wilson, and my youngest daughter will start kindergarten at Prather next year. Those are the two biggest reasons I want the best for this school district. I have a background in information technology and buildings and grounds management, which I believe would be beneficial to any board. I have both budget experience and board experience, as I am currently on the board of directors for the Madison County Historical Society. I was also raised in Granite City, I am a product of this school district, and I still live and work in Granite City. I also worked in Pontoon Beach for 8 years, while attending GCHS and later SIUE, as well as shortly after.
What are the most important issues the school district faces, and how would you approach them? A major issue for me is attendance. Superintendent Greenwald made note of the extraordinarily high chronic absenteeism rate in the winter 2018 newsletter to parents. Over 30 percent of our students missed 18 or more days last school year, nearly double the state average. Things have improved a bit since then, but we need to stay on top of it and work to further improve attendance. I want to work with those at the school district to look into methods, studies, and more to find ways to do this. I would also like to strengthen the truancy program that was hurt by a budget cut a few years ago. Keeping everyone safe is a top concern, and that includes everything from active shooter threats to bullying. I want to make sure that safety and security is continually evaluated and that dollars are appropriately spent on security systems, plans, student resource officers, training, etc. An officer or two at every school would be great, but it’s just not currently feasible, which is why I also want to make sure that those various resources are prioritized and placed where they are needed most based on all of the data we can gather and analyze.
Under what circumstances would you vote to raise property taxes? I would only vote to raise property taxes as a last resort. I would do everything possible as a board member to make sure that we are first using every dollar as efficiently as possible. I am involved in developing the budget at the Six Mile Regional Library District. Though the budget is far less than that of the school district, we are quite familiar with being forced to make cuts while maintaining the services expected by our customers.
What are your goals for the district/what do you want to accomplish? I want to see our school district get as close as it can to raising all students up to and beyond the state standards while making sure we nurture those children who are already performing well. We don’t want to hold back our star students while waiting for others to catch up. While we certainly need to verify that our teachers and aides are doing what they were hired to do, we need to realize that some parents and guardians are not holding up their end of the bargain. I have seen it firsthand as a parent myself, and I’ve heard it from numerous teachers and other parents. We need to do all we can to make sure that our district’s parents are actively involved in making sure that their children are reading, doing their homework, and caring about their progress in school. I truly want to find ways to convince these parents that education is paramount. I also want to work with everyone at the school district to increase attendance and keep the programs we have while making sure that we are using tax dollars appropriately and efficiently. That includes hiring effective teachers and administrators based on their qualifications, making sure we receive multiple bids and proposals whenever possible for services and purchases, and much more. It takes great effort and time to do all of this, and I intend to put forth both.
What is your position on the proposed increase in minimum wage for teachers in Illinois? I am in favor of it. Considering the education and certification requirements, the responsibility, and the extra time that many teachers put in outside of the classroom, $40,000 by the 2023-24 school year isn’t too much to ask.