Full Name: Judith Miller
What office are you seeking? School Board Member
What is your political party? Democrat
What is your current age? 75
Occupation and Employer: Retired English/SpeechTeacher from Morris Community High School and JJC
What offices, if any, have you previously held? None
Campaign Website: None
Education: BA in English from Ball State University
MA in Speech Communication from Northern Illinois University
Community involvement: I am active with Morris Lions Club (Past President, Current Board)
I am active with Morris Theare Guild (Past Secretary, Current Board)
I am a current member of IRTA (Retired Teachers)
I have been a Volunteer at Morris Hospital
I have been a Volunteer with Morris PADS Homeless Shelter
Marital status/Immediate family: Married to Alan Miller
2 Children, Scott and Todd, both residing in Morris
Why are you running for office?
I taught at Morris High School from 1972 to 2004 and at JJC from 2002 to 2012. The best times I remember were when the Board, Administration, and Faculty were able to work together for the good of the students and the whole school. I hope to foster that kind of team effort for the benefit of all students, now and into the future. Having served on the Boards of both Lions and MTG, I appreciate the importance of long-term planning, and hope to help prepare MCHS for the future.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
Having taught at MCHS for many years and maintained contacts with current teachers and Board members, I think I understand how the school functions and the issues likely to be addressed in the near future and long-term. Serving on the Boards of other groups has taught me how to set priorities and deal with budgets. I have been a parent as well as a teacher, and can understand both perspectives. My main qualification is my desire to make MCHS the best school possible.
Have you sought and/or received any training to run for your local school board? If so, from whom?
I have not taken classes in administration, but my neighbor is currently on the school board and has discussed with me the actions taken by the current board and the reasoning for those decisions. He knows I am interested in MCHS and has encouraged me to seek this position, as have current teachers. Having taught for many years at this school, I am familiar with the building and the way the school functions. Serving on the Boards of both Lions and Morris Theatre Guild have taught me how boards function.
Would you propose any changes to the curriculum? If so, what?
I have no agenda about proposing specific changes. I would want to study current curriculum and proposed changes to determine the best path forward. The school must offer courses as required by the state and the district with as many other courses and electives as feasible to help students develop their abilities and interests in pursuit of graduation.
Are LGBTQ students treated fairly in your district?
I do not have specific knowledge about how MCHS treats LGBTQ students, but would seek to learn from both students and faculty about this issue. Our school, like our society, must become more inclusive if we wish every student to succeed.
What is your assessment of how Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is handled in your school district?
As stated, I have not studied this issue as it pertains to MCHS, but would hope to learn more about the school’s policies and practices. The actual school policies might not be as significant as the overall atmosphere. Often, as I recall, students could find activities and mentors where they would feel valued and supported. If school policies can be improved, that would be good, but the overall atmosphere of the student body should support diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Do you believe the district needs to make any changes to improve DEI in your district?
I fear this term has become rather politicized these days. When I taught, I always welcomed any student who entered my classroom or joined in my activies like Forensics or theater. I believe the teachers I am still in contact with do the same. Obviously, if issues arise, every effort should be made to make sure every student feels welcome and supported.
Are teachers in your district paid adequately now and in retirement?
I would need to study the salary scale of nearby and similar schools to answer that question with confidence. However, teacher salaries tend to lag behind those in other professions. It would always be helpful to show financially that teachers are valued and would make it easier to retain qualified staff. Budget realities determine possibilities. I am concerned that efforts are being made to reduce retirement benefits. It makes me sad to think that current teachers may have less because of the actions of past politicians.
Would you support changes to teacher pay scales? If so, how?
Again, I would need to study the current teacher pay scales and the current budget resources to answer this question. As a former teacher, I would support changes whenever possible within the resources available. I would need to study proposed changes and their long term effect on staff and curriculum.
What is your assessment of the district superintendent’s compensation?
I do not know how our current Superintendent’s compensation compares with similar and nearby schools. I would need to study those numbers to reach a conclusion. I do know our current Superintendent, however, as a past student, colleague, and friend. I have watched him excel at every level, and believe he understands our school and how to help it be the best school possible.
Would you make any changes to how the district superintendent is compensated?
I would not propose changes in how the Superintendent is compensated without understanding what resources are available, what level of compensation is current for similar and nearby schools, and what the impact of changes would be in terms of our ability to hire and retain excellent people.
Do you support the current superintendent? Please explain.
As stated, I know our current Superintendent from his days as my student. I was pleased when he joined our faculty as an outstanding teacher. He studied to gather the further training to become our Superintendent, and I was pleased when he was selected. I believe he can offer his knowledge of the school and his experience of teaching here as ways to help board members see multiple perspectives when making decisions.
Should schools in your district adopt and teach sex education according to the National Sex Education Standards? Please explain.
As a teacher, I tend to be a rule follower. If it is a National Standard developed by people who have studied the issue to create these standards. I would need to see and study carefully any proposal to deviate from those standards. I would also want to know and understand any consequences of failing to meet those standards.
What is your assessment of how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled locally?
This was a sad time for everyone. Morris, like every public school, had to adjust attendance policies, create new learning methodology, and devise ways of educating students while keeping everyone as safe as possible. Teachers and administration worked harder than ever when students started to return, needing to adjust to part of the class being in person and part online. Return to full time in classes was not without adjustments. I think everyone is to be commended for getting us through that time.
What did you learn from the pandemic?
This was definitely a challenging time. Everyone faced new and major changes, and we adapted and made it work. The schools faced major challenges and changes, but by working together, they were able to do the best job possible under the circumstances. I think we all learned that change can develop new skills and we can adapt to whatever challenges we face.
Are voters that support your district taxed at an appropriate level?
Again, I would need to study the numbers from similar and nearby districts to make that determination. Oviously, lower taxes would be nice for taxpaers, but investment in our students makes Morris a more successful community. Taxes provide the fuel to help our schools and students succeed. At this time, I believe our taxes are appropriate for our school.
Would you support any plans to raise taxes in the district? If so, what should the additional revenue be spent on?
We currently have a building where the old wing dates to the 50′s and the addition dates from the 60′s.
Other buildings are used as well. We may face a time when additional or consolidated renovations will be necessary to serve our student population. Upgrades would possibly require more funding, but with proper planning and community support our school and community can continue to be proud of Morris Community High School.
Would you support lowering taxes in the district? If so, what programs or services in the district would you cut?
Without knowledge of our current budget requirements and other possible revenue sources, as well as possible future needs, it would be short-sighted to cut programs or services. Each part of our school serves a purpose, and cutting resources for our students lessens their educational experience. If absolutely shown to be necessary, such cuts should be evenly distributed as much as possible.
Will you accept the voters’ decision in your race on Election Day?
Absolutely. As I said, I am a rule follower. It is sad that this question need to be asked.
What is your position on open, transparent government?
For any entity to be successful, it must be supported by members who see it as open and transparent.
Do you support the Freedom of Information Act and citizens’ ability to freely access government records?
Any law should be followed to the extent possible.