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Academic Excellence, Budget Responsibility and Communication are Cornerstones of Chris Blum's Campaign

Blum is one of eight candidates vying for four seats on the Elmhurst Unit District 205 Board.

  • Elmhurst District 205 School Board Candidate:  Chris Blum
  • Web site: www.chrisblum205.org
  • E-mail: chrisblum205@gmail.com
  • Family: wife, Nancy (Klatt); daughters, Caitlin, 14 (York), Claire, 9 (Edison), and Lizzie, 8 (Edison); and son, John, 12, (Sandburg)
  • Education:  University of Notre Dame, bachelor of business administration in finance/accounting
  • Occupation:  Principal and Chief Financial Officer, middle-market private equity investment firm
  • Previous elected offices: None
  • Applicable experience: As a financial and management professional, I have experience managing the financial and operational aspects of complex organizations like District 205 in challenging environments. My wife, Nancy (Klatt), and I have four children at all levels of District 205 schools.  I have experienced the progression from kindergarten through high school in this district which gives me insight into the strengths and weaknesses of District 205 as well as a vested interest in our district’s success.

What is the primary reason you are running for School Board?

I’m a running for a position on the Elmhurst District 205 School Board because I believe together we can raise the bar for all students at all schools–in academics, financially and with regard to community relations.

I believe a solid, well-rounded education is the most important asset we can provide our children to ensure they are equipped with the foundational skills necessary to achieve excellence in whatever field they chose to pursue in an increasingly competitive world.

What will be your priority if elected?

Academic excellence—ensuring all students achieve their full potential.  This means having highly effective, accountable teachers, creating a professional, collaborative culture focused on student learning and an integrated curriculum across grades.

Budget responsibly—living within our means, aligning spending with priorities and maximizing value from every dollar spent.

Communication/Trust/Community—We must rebuild trust with the community.  This means creating a customer-centric culture, communicating clear, concise, achievable and measurable goals and collaborating on key decisions.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I have run financial and operational aspects of complex organizations like District 205.  I understand the challenges of making difficult decisions and motivating organizations in changing environments.

My wife, Nancy (Klatt), and I have four children at all levels of District 205 schools.  I have experienced the progression from kindergarten through high school in this district which gives me insight into the strengths and weaknesses of District 205 as well as a vested interest in our district’s success.

How long have you lived in Elmhurst?

Our family has lived in Elmhurst for 15 years.  My wife Nancy (Klatt) is a lifelong Elmhurst resident.

What's your favorite thing about Elmhurst District 205?

We are lucky to have great children, involved parents, dedicated teachers and staff and a strong community.  Elmhurst is also fortunate to have significant financial resources and historically we have demonstrated a strong willingness to support and fund things we believe in.  The district must take the lead in harnessing and focusing this energy in support of our common goals. 

What is the biggest problem in Elmhurst District 205?

We live in challenging economic times.  Budgets are strained in both the private and public sector and property values are a top concern.  Managing finances in this environment requires experience, expertise and creativity.  We also face a time of change in our district.  We will have new leaders in key administrative positions and three board members are retiring.  This environment requires level-headed, professional leadership.

Do you think morale among teachers and staff is low, and if so, how, specifically, do you plan to improve it? Do you think District 205’s reputation has been eroded over the past couple of years? If so, what caused that and how, specifically, do you plan to improve it?

I believe these two questions are interrelated and stem from the need to rebuild stakeholder trust.  This starts with creating a customer-centric culture.  The district must educate, inform and collaborate with stakeholders on critical issues, in advance, in pursuing well-reasoned, fact-based decisions.  No one person has all the answers and good decisions require multiple perspectives from knowledgeable people.  Community outreach, including frequent community surveys and forums is critical.  Leadership must also set and communicate clear, measurable goals.  We must be transparent, objective and honest with ourselves in measuring our progress.

What “best practices” would you like to incorporate, either from previous District 205 administrators or from other school districts, to improve curriculum and student achievement?

A culture of excellence begins with leadership in our schools and classrooms.  We must attract, retain and develop highly effective teachers and administrators with accountability for delivering results.  We must emphasize a culture of collaboration focused on what a student learns—not just what is taught.  These are core concepts of professional learning communities—a model we should continue to aggressively pursue.  As a unit district, we need to coordinate curriculum from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.  Core subjects must be integrated and progressive with each grade, building on prior learning and preparing a strong foundation for the next.

Do you think the budget cuts currently being determined are going to solve the district’s budget problems for the long term? What else can be done going forward to maintain a healthy budget?

The first part of this question requires predicting future new tax base growth and demographic make-up of the district—an uncertain proposition at best.  Therefore, we need a solid financial foundation.  I will use my financial experience to more deeply explore opportunities to improve efficiencies within programs and the feasibility of reorganizing and consolidating functions across the district with the goal of preserving or increasing programs while maintaining budget discipline.  As an EEPRT participant, I engaged in a process that was a good start in involving the community in setting priorities, but could better focus on identifying creative solutions.

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