D181 candidate Margie Kleber's election questionnaire


Name: Margaret Kleber

Attendance area: The Lane School

Years in district: 30

Age: 59

Education: Bachelor of Arts

Occupation: Project Manager, Healthcare Industry

Community service: Union Church of Hinsdale, Early Childhood Parent program, held several leadership roles over the course of eight years. The Lane School PTO; HCHS Track & Field parent group; Village of Hinsdale Caucus

Board experience: Member, Board of Education, CCSD 181, 2017 – present (Vice President & Facilities Committee Chair, 2018-2019; Secretary and Facilities Committee Chair, 2019-20; President 2020-2021

Why are you running for this particular seat at this particular time?

I have served on the D181 Board for the past four years during which we have built a new middle school, hired a new superintendent, reduced high administrative turnover, and met the enormous challenges of COVID-19, which continue. I am running for another two-year term because my prior Board experience and my institutional knowledge will provide Board stability and continuity during one of the most difficult periods in District 181’s history. Candidly, I don’t feel my job is finished yet.

What in your personal or professional experience has prepared you to be an effective board member?

First and foremost, my four children spent a total of 36 cumulative years as students in District 181, and they received an outstanding educational foundation for success at Hinsdale Central and in college. As a parent, a taxpayer, and an active community member for the past 30 years, I understand the key elements that are necessary to achieve excellence in our school district. Second, I have served on or worked closely with many boards over the course of my professional career, which has instilled a knowledge of how to work collaboratively and respectfully while formulating sound group decisions.

What in your opinion are the board’s three most important responsibilities?

1. Preserve and build upon District 181’s reputation as one of the top elementary and middle school district in the state of Illinois by (i) recruiting and retaining outstanding teachers, (ii) offering superior academics and (iii) providing superior learning environments and facilities.

2. Prudent stewardship of taxpayer funds, ensuring disciplined fiscal decisions and providing strategic oversight of the District’s Administration.

3. Listening to the all D181 voters and other stakeholders and weighing all opinions and considering all information before deciding or casting a vote.

What is the district’s greatest strength? Which area is most in need of attention?

The District’s greatest strength is the degree of passion that our entire community places on creating outstanding educational opportunities. Our parents, teachers, administrators, and taxpayers all recognize the value of offering our students an academic foundation that is second to none. But occasionally, the passion that some stakeholders feel about a single issue or narrow agenda interferes with their ability to see the larger picture and appreciate various trade-offs involved.

What is the most pressing budgetary matter the district will face over the next four years?

There is constant pressure to fund “wants vs. needs” or “nice to have vs. must haves” As Chairman of the Facilities Committee, I presided over the process of building the new HMS which was completed on-time and under-budget by striking the appropriate balance between wants and needs (including the elimination of an elevated track and encouraging architects to source lower cost materials). The Board needs to constantly question whether proposed expenditures are need-based or want-based.

What will be your top three priorities if elected?

1. Ensuring the safe return to full-time, in-school learning in a manner that protects the health and welfare of our students, teachers, and administrators.

2. Purchase or build an Administrative Center to avoid excessive annual lease expenses and to ensure that the new building is designed and built with a “must-have” mentality.

3. Continued refinements to the District’s capital budgeting process so that necessary facility improvements, repairs, and maintenance continue to be budgeted, prioritized, and anticipated.

Please cite a recent board decision that you have agreed with and one that you have disagreed with and briefly explain your reason(s) why.

At the end of last summer, the Administration recommended re-opening the schools full- time in-person, citing the results of an imperfect public survey. I felt strongly that the public had not been given adequate opportunity to provide input. I called a Special Meeting, which turned into three meetings. As a result, the Board decided to re-open the schools under the part-time Hybrid-model which allowed for the recommended, though not required, six-feet of social distancing.