Candidates forum: ISD 728 board candidates support levies

by Jim Boyle


The Elk River Area School District’s operating levy renewal and a second question to add all-day everyday kindergarten, among other things, got a show of support this past Saturday at a candidates forum.

Four of the six candidates running for three open seats on the Elk River Area School Board turned out for the Elk River Area Citizens League-sponsored event. All four candidates in attendance — incumbents Sue Farber and Janelle Henry, as well as Jane Frazier and Tom McAuley — offered support of both questions.

“I’m absolutely 100 percent in favor both questions,” Farber stated, explaining if the first question doesn’t pass there will be a series of “major cuts.”

She’s also a proponent of the all-day, everyday kindergarten and technology upgrades.

“It disappoints me greatly that the state won’t fund it,” she said of the kindergarten program.

“We sell our kindergartners short by thinking they can only go one-half day every day or a full day every other day,”  Farber added. “These kids are craving learning.

“The technology and curriculum that (Question No. 2) would provide would be invaluable,” she stated.

McAuley also came out for the kindergarten portion of the second question.

“It’s an extremely efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” he said. “(It’s a case of) an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I absolutely believe that.”

McAuley also commented that the questions were related. The first levy has to pass in order for the second one to be able to pass.

“I do support both,” he said, noting that he wished the all-day everyday kindergarten component had been parcelled out.

Frazier said Question No. 1 is about sustaining the district’s current operations, and the kindergarten program can close a gap that exists at school.

“There are kids that are very advanced and kids that hardly know anything,” she said. “I’m thankful we can put it before the taxpayers. We’ll just have to see what they (decide).”

Henry said she supported the technology and curriculum components, which will aid students and teachers and shorten the time it takes to get new curriculum in front of students from 10-plus years to seven.

“We don’t have a large backlog of money to deficit spend,” Henry said. “Both of these are important to pass.”

Incumbent Holly Thompson and Dan Hunt were not at the forum held at Elk River City Hall. The event will be aired periodically on Cable Channel 12 up until the Nov. 6 election.

Each candidate at the forum had a chance to introduce themselves.

Frazier has been a Rogers resident for more than 18 years. Her four children have attended Rogers schools and she has been on the Legislative Action Team for the past two years.

She also has worked with youth at her church.

“I have a love for youth and a love for business,” she said. “To me this is a great combination.”

McAuley has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree in business administration.

“I own a small business for which I pay a lot in taxes,” he said. “Most importantly I have two very small kids. I’m relying on this district’s decision-making to provide them with an education that they can use to compete in a world market.”

Henry, who lives in Albertville now, has lived in the Elk River school district for more than 20 years and her daughter is an Elk River High School graduate.

She herself has a bachelor’s degree in education. She has been involved in education for 30-some years, first as a teacher.

“Since I was in fifth grade I knew I wanted to be in education,” she said. “Being on the board is a continuation of that.”

She has been on the School Board for nearly eight years and says she has “enjoyed every minute of it.

“I would like to continue for another four … to continue working on the strategic plan and its rollout.”

Farber, who grew up in Otsego after her family moved to the district in 1970, has been in the district for 43 years.

She is an Elk River High School graduate, raised three children who are graduates of Elk River High School and now has three grandchildren living in the school district.

“I hope my grandchildren can (graduate from ERHS) too,” she said. “I am invested in this community.”

She said she has been involved with the Association of Metropolitan School Districts and has been involved with the Minnesota School Board’s Association delegate assembly in her time on the board.