Monday, January 31, 2011

An interview with District 150 write-in candidate Rick Cloyd

Last week brought news of a write in campaign for the Third district - District 150 School Board seat (Stowell vacancy). As you may know, the filing date for the vacant seat came and went without a single person submitting a petition or statement of candidacy. Rick Cloyd, a lifelong resident of Peoria, community volunteer, and employee of Caterpillar, Inc, announced last week that he will attempt to win the seat through a write-in campaign. Seemingly well qualified, I couldn't resist calling him and asking him to share with our on-line community a little bit more about himself. He politely obliged. Below are my questions to him and his replies, without commentary.

1. Please tell us a little about yourself, your family (if you wish), and any past associations you have had with Peoria Public Schools.

I was born and raised in Peoria and graduated from Hines Grade School and Richwoods High School. I graduated with a degree in Journalism, with honors, from Bradley University and earned an MBA with emphasis in finance from the University of Illinois Executive program in 1996. I worked for Keystone Steel & Wire in Bartonville for 25 years, and was vice president of sales and marketing from 1997 until 2001, when I joined Caterpillar.

Sally and I have been married 29 years. She is an independent writer and producer with a U of I degree was in Speech Education. Over the past three years, we’ve volunteered with Carl Cannon’s ELITE Youth Outreach program for Peoria-area high school sophomores and juniors. I’ve helped with some program content, taught at the spring retreat, and worked at lock-ins.

If we had not been involved with ELITE, I would not be running for this office. I’ve seen first hand what great things happen when young people receive support and guidance and learn that respect is a two-way street. They get to experience the life-changing benefits of courteous language, respectful conduct and appropriate appearance.

I’ve served the community in a number of capacities, including the Greater Peoria YMCA board, a volunteer with our church and several other civic and charitable organizations. Recently, I taught a Junior Achievement economics course at Richwoods, did some home repairs for Rebuilding Together, and photographed South Side Mission Adopt-a-Block families for their Christmas cards.

My daughter and her husband are University of Georgia graduates. She is in banking and they also own a small business in Athens, GA.

2. Can you tell us what may make you uniquely qualified to serve on the District 150 Board of Education.

My unique qualification for the Board is my lifelong Peoria residence and four decades of business experience in finance, marketing, strategy development, and in the leadership and development of people. I have developed and managed large operating budgets and executed cost reduction programs, when necessary.

I’ve managed two national sales and marketing organizations, an 850,000 sq. ft manufacturing facility, and two product distribution facilities. Along the way I’ve built and maintained constructive working relationships with union and non-union hourly workforces -- sometimes in difficult financial circumstances.

My current responsibilities in Strategy & Business Development at Caterpillar include enterprise strategy consulting and execution support; analysis of industries, markets and competitors; and our department’s career development and mentoring process. International travel, particularly to China and India, has provided stark evidence of how critically important it is to prepare students for success in a hyper-competitive world.

3. What would be your three highest priorities during your tenure on the School board, if elected?

Financial accountability -- Dist. 150 is a large business, spending more than $1 million per school day, based on dividing the total budget of $187 million by the 176 days required in the school year. Taxpayers and business leaders need to see a better return on that substantial annual investment.

Strategic focus – The Board and Administration must have long-term goals for student academic achievement and a financial, operating and personnel plan to achieve them. The Board’s role is to establish policies, work with the Administration to set goals and metrics and to hold it accountable for measurable progress toward those goals.

A safe and respectful educational environment – No learning takes place when students fear for their safety, are distracted by disruptive behavior, or aren’t engaged with the teacher or educational material.

4. What is your opinion of the Charter School, and what words of advice would you have for families that did or do not win the "lottery" for enrollment in the Charter School?

I supported establishment of the Quest Charter Academy, and we’ll all learn a lot as it develops.

5. Can you name 3 people that you admire, have inspired you and/or have served as role models?

The late Dr. Paul Snider, who headed Bradley’s Journalism department. He was a great educator with an unforgettable way of holding his students to the highest standards of accuracy and excellence.

Carl Cannon, for his passion and dedication to youth, and for creating job opportunities and building self-respect in those students willing to step up and be ELITE.

Blanche Peeler, my great aunt, who took my mom into her home as a teenager during the Depression. Dr. and Mrs. Peeler provide for mom’s college education and then for her nursing degree at Vanderbilt University.

6. In your press release announcing your write-in candidacy you stated "District 150 can, and must, provide a safe and respectful environment of educational excellence to help students realize that potential". Other candidates before you have made similar statements and many district observers feel that little if any progress has been made in that regard. What specific measures would you advocate for in order to be one of the first to deliver on this campaign promise?

That’s what the District should aspire to. My promise is to apply my education, business experience and passion for educational excellence to the best of my abilities as a member of the Board.

As a governance body working together, the Board should hold the Dist. 150 Administration accountable on the issues of safety and security based upon appropriate metrics, policies and statutes.

If the ELITE program can create and sustain a safe and respectful environment for several hundred District 150 students every year, why can’t the rest of our students have that too?

7. What are your concerns, if any, about running and/or serving on the school board and what would be your expectations of the families of District 150.

My concern is that many people in the community have given up on Dist. 150 and see no hope for change or improvement – and every stakeholder will suffer the consequences. My hope and expectation is that families in our community will provide a supportive home environment for learning, and make their children’s education a top priority.

8. If there is anything you would like to add please feel free to do so here.

To help accomplish anything we discussed, I need, and would greatly appreciate, your School Board District 3 readers’ write-in votes on April 5 for Rick Cloyd.

Thank you for your participation.


Jon said...

Thanks to you both for the info - I am curious as to why Rick didn't choose to run from the beginning, though I'm happy he and at least one other have expressed a desire to do so now.

Your question about the charter school seemed....uh...not exactly unbiased. Perhaps, Diane, you'll share your answer to that same question.

Diane Vespa said...

Hi Jon,

I have stated all along that I didn't want to see the district waste resources, financial and otherwise on a charter school at this time. I feel that all of our efforts should have been focused on improving academics, discipline and safety in our existing schools. Obviously this is one area where I disagree with Rick but I still think that he is the superior choice out of the four running. He has all the requisite skills and his heart is in the right place, IMO. It would be rare to find a candidate where you agree with them on all points.

I was disappointed that he didn't answer the second part of that question which I feel is very relevant, but I'm sure I'll have opportunity before election day to ask it of him again.

Jon said...

Well, that makes at least 2 that didn't answer the second part of the question :) Do you want to address it this time, Diane?