McGaw YMCA CEO Bill Geiger is running his first campaign for the Evanston Township High School District 202 board. Here are his answers to the questions we posed to every 202 candidate.
1. How long have you lived in Evanston?
I was born and raised in Evanston, returned from college and taught at Haven Middle School and worked at the Evanston YMCA for 10 years, lived elsewhere for about 20 years, and most recently have lived in Evanston since 2003.
2. What elected positions have you held previously, if any? Have you ever run for office before?
None. Not since I ran for president of the Haven Student Council in 1965.
Click here for information on the other District 202 candidates.
3. What experience/skills would you bring to the school board from your professional or personal life?
I bring both for-profit management and non-profit leadership to the Board. I am a relationship-builder and facilitative community leader committed to collaboration, to getting things done. My nine years at the McGaw YMCA have demonstrated my commitment to the community and effectiveness as a leader. I am a good listener and work hard to understand and respect others’ perspectives. My experience as CEO of the YMCA, working with an outstanding Board of Directors, has given me a clear understanding of the role of a Board and that of management. Twenty years of for-profit business experience including 10 years at Steelcase Inc. has given me analytical, financial, and strategic planning skills, international business experience, as well as broad exposure to business practices essential for fast-changing conditions.
4. What do you think are the biggest issues for District 202? How would you address those?
My priorities address the key issues facing District 202. These include:
a) A focus on student achievement, learning and career readiness for all students;
b) Assuring that the District has a clear vision of the future and establishes the goals, objectives, measures and accountabilities to move ETHS forward for 21st Century learning;
c) Engaging in data-driven decision-making;
d) Protecting District assets, directing resources consistent with the vision and goals, and preparing for a more challenging future;
e) Staying connected with the community – engaging parents, students, institutions, and community members in meaningful ways and providing timely, effective communication;
f) Building trust, respect and dialogue among Board members and with administration, staff, parents, students, and the community.
5. What will you do to improve graduation rates and job placement for those students who do not go on to college right away (if at all)?
It starts with a focus on academic achievement, learning, and establishing multiple pathways for post-secondary success. This focus must be shared by the Board, administration, parents, and community partners. I will support the development of policies and the allocation of resources needed to increase job and career readiness for all students. The Harvard Graduate School of Education “Pathways to Prosperity Project” identifies some of the key challenges including the scope of the challenge (“the forgotten half”,) a more demanding labor market, and widening skills and opportunity gaps. Their proposed solutions include creating multiple pathways for students and creating a broader vision for school reform (ETHS Career and Technical Education programs are a strong start,) establishing an expanded role for employers at the earliest stages (deepening the relationship with the Youth Job Center, for example,) and developing systems of collective responsibility with educators, employers, government and the boarder community (bold collaboration with community partners.) As a Board member, I will advocate for and support these efforts.
6. What will you do to improve safety in and around ETHS?
As a Board member, I will help assure that student, facility, staff, and facility safety policies are in place and that resources are allocated to enable their effective implementation. These policies and related practices need to be evaluated on an on-going basis and modified based on changing conditions. Increased outdoor and street lighting should be made a priority. I will encourage robust lines of communication with the police department and City and on-going training for all ETHS personnel in relationship-building strategies.