D86 candidate Jeff Waters' questionnaire
Last updated 3/12/2021 at 2:28pm
Attendance area: HC
Years in district: 17
Education: B.S. Economics
University of Colorado at Boulder 1994
Occupation: Derivatives Trader
Community service: My parents instilled in us the concept that ‘giving is getting’. To touch briefly on some of those efforts on my behalf. I have been actively involved in the community since moving to Hinsdale back in 2004. I coached for many years in AYSO, Jodie Harrison and the Hinsdale Little League where I served as a Board member for six years. Hinsdale Humane Society, The Wellness House and other local charitable organizations have been a focal point of my support. I have also been a strong supporter and volunteer with Horizons for Youth, a Chicago based organization that partners with students and their invested and like minded families to provide need based scholarships to magnet and private/parochial schools in the Chicagoland area.
In 2018 and 2019, I was fortunate to work on the committee to help pass the Facilities Referendum for all seven towns in the District. The effort was monumental and I couldn’t be more grateful to have been a part of it. Eternal thanks to Kari Galassi for including me!
Conversations are data points and running outreach and fundraising for the Vote Yes campaign fostered thousands of them for both myself and the twelve person committee I served on. Gathering perspectives and fostering conversations played out for me with residents on both sides of the issue and in every corner of the District. Whether someone was a YES or NO for the referendum, I gained valuable insight and crucial information to assist the committee in best representing the District for the initiative. More than that, lifelong friendships were forged for so many of us.
Member, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, since 1996
Co-Founder and Owner: Eldorado Trading Group, founded 2004.
CME Globex Oversight Committee Member, responsible for oversight of
electronic trading platform 2000
Hinsdale Little League Board 2008-2013
Why are you running for this particular seat at this particular time?
District 86 is facing several critical issues that necessitate new leadership to properly address. Issues are wide ranging and listed below. New Board composition will champion open dialogue and communication with the community, exhaust data for critical decision making and generate conversation and at times, discourse, in the Boardroom. That is the path for optimal decision making, especially in this precarious environment, and in my estimation the road less traveled by the current Board.
Issues most pressing in my opinion:
-drastic changes to curriculum in, formerly science, and most recently and more concerning- Mathematics. The data that has been presented is minimal and what has been presented does not support a migration to Integrated Math.
-exercising latitude to best and collectively represent the community’s desire to get kids safely back in school while providing an optimal remote platform for those who choose to or need to be remote.
-Teacher Dissatisfaction: A recent and anonymous teacher survey indicates an alarming level of job dissatisfaction at both schools and more so at Central. Teachers are coveted here in District 86. This survey should be expanded upon. Conversations should ensue. All of that data should be harnessed to address this troubling development.
What in your personal or professional experience has prepared you to be an effective board member?
Data Centric and diplomatic, driven empirically and through conversations.
I was always a curious kid which blossomed into my analytical approach to all aspects of my life: derivatives trading, my children’s college selection process, personal consumption or any other decision tree in front of me. My involvement and awareness with District 86 has been acute for a few years now. I firmly believe my ability to foster open and honest communication and drive cohesion with both like and opposite minded individuals will help the District arrive at a position which best serves the residents of the District, including the most important variable in the D86 equation: the kids. All 4,000 of them at both schools.
What in your opinion are the board’s three most important responsibilities?
-to engage with the residents of the seven towns that feed into District 86 in order to accurately reflect and champion their collective interests despite not always aligning, personally, with that collective viewpoint.
-to hire, steward and steer the Superintendent to provide the most robust education and activity offerings to each and every student in the District. D86 is a diverse, dynamic, proud and passionate school district. In order to achieve the greatest possible outcomes for each District student, the Superintendent must gauge the collective pulse of the community, champion inclusion for all students, and provide the most comprehensive experience for each educational strata of the entire student body.
-To prioritize the agenda and make data driven decisions that best reflect the collective demand and interest of the seven towns feeding into District 86.
What is the district’s greatest strength? Which area is most in need of attention?
The people. District 86 is a diverse population who embrace a common value for, and commitment to, education. D86 is the crowned jewel of the western suburbs and serves an equally diverse student body on all sides of the educational continuum. D86 is targeted both for high achievement with respect to honors/AP as a trusted path to secondary and even higher education and for special ED which canvasses varying types of I.E.P.’s and learning/speech disabilities….and all the students in between!
What is the most pressing budgetary matter the district will face over the next four years?
In a seamless and data centric world, schools are competing for business and their customers have never been more informed. Illinois has been witnessing a mass exodus predating the virus. School leaders must embrace their role in this marketplace to avoid exacerbating migration out of the District and/or to private/parochial schools. To the extent an increased exodus occurs, the next shoe to drop is funding, school rankings, and inevitably, a drop in real estate values.
What will be your top three priorities if elected?
1-Best practices for Board Governance, including open and collaborative communication.
2-Data driven and agenda prioritization to maximize outcomes for all stakeholders.
3-Exercise latitude the BOE has to best represent the community’s desire to get the kids, safely, back to school and enhance the current remote platform for the students who want or need to be remote.
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.
The BOE brought public comments to the front of the meeting which were formerly
and abruptly cancelled. I applaud the BOE for bringing comments back to the front of the meeting. The District endured and settled a first amendment lawsuit in June, 2020 and can ill afford traversing a similar path.
Superintendent Tammy Prentissis, Administration and the BOE are due tremendous gratitude for the recent initiative to partner with Jewel Osco to allow HC and HS to serve as vaccination sites for teachers and others working in the District. Vaccines are being administered this week and the first week in March will play witness to the second and final vaccination. Thank you Tammy, Administration and the entire BOE! Great job! The light at the end of the tunnel looks brighter and brighter!