Holly Thompson*, District 728 School Board

Holly Thompson*

Age: 42

Family: I have been married for 14 years to my husband, Mark. We have three children. Andrew is in 7th grade at Zimmerman Middle School, Lucie is in 4th grade at Westwood Elementary and Natalie is in 2nd grade at Zimmerman Elementary.

Occupation: Currently, I stay at home with my children and spend as much time as possible volunteering in the schools. Previously, I was an accounting manager for a real estate developer.

Previous civic and community involvement: Weekly parent volunteer in elementary schools. Member of Parents United. Member of Interagency Early Intervention Committee. Member of Laurie Kerrr Foundation. Member of Legislative Action Team. Treasurer and Executive Committee Member for ISD 728 School Board for 3 years. Previously PTO Treasurer for Zimmerman and Westwood Elementary schools.

1. What prompted you to run for the Elk River Area School Board?

My decision to run for reelection was an easy one for me. I want to do all that I can to inspire children to learn and grow. My passion for children coupled with my financial skills prepare me to make tough decisions in these tough economic times.

2. What makes you qualified to be a member of the School Board?

As an incumbent, I have the experience and training as a board member. As a mother of three children, I have a vested interest in doing what is best for our children. My business skills will assist with financial decisions facing the district. This package, neatly wrapped, qualifies me to represent the constituents of our district.

3. What facets of the newly formulated strategic plan are you most fascinated with that you see the greatest potential for growth in the district.

Community collaboration is one of the basic tenets of our new plan and offers us the greatest opportunity to realize our goals. This isn’t because we are asking for handouts as we may have in the past, but achieving mutual goals and benefits. I am also fascinated with exploring course delivery options which incorporates technology.

4. What are the biggest threats the Elk River Area School District faces?

Simply stated I think our biggest threat is our resistance to change.

5. Do you support the operating levy renewal? Why or why not? Do you support the second operating levy question?

I support the renewal of the operating levy. I also support taking the second question to our taxpayers for their decision. Now that we have the direction of our strategic plan, we will need money to finance priority initiatives. Their decision on this levy will help us determine how quickly or slowly we will move ahead.

6. If the levies fail, massive cuts will needed to balance the budget. What elements of the strategic plan will still be doable in your mind? What will your approach to cuts be?

If the levies fail, there will be no sacred cows as we consider what cuts need to be made. We will have to decide which of the strategic plan initiatives are priorities that may be started with minimal financial support. What will be important for me is not to lose the momentum as we go through this grueling task.

7. Momentum is building to look at ways of adding auditoriums in Zimmerman and Rogers? What are your thoughts on what the role of the School Board will be to support this endeavor?

Our School Board decided to pursue auditoriums through community initiatives and not through a levy. Levies for this have not passed previously and our strategic plan supports more community collaboration. The results thus far show promise for a variety of funding options. The leadership of these groups can continue to breathe life into a plan.

8. Equity has been an issue in the Elk River Area School District for a number of years. What work still must be done to remedy this?

First, we need to define what equity looks like across our district. Once we have agreement, we can assign priorities and consider these for funding through our annual budgeting process. Evolving needs would be reviewed and prioritized as part of the cycle.

9. Local manufacturers and those across the state and country often have a difficult time filling positions because applicants lack the necessary skills to perform the work. What can be done at a local level to help fix this?

Community collaboration will be a key methodology to fix the gap in educational skills and job requirements. We must research, report and communicate the results to parents, teachers and students. Once armed with good data, it will be easier to make decisions regarding curriculum, interships and other community initiatives.

10. So much has been learned about the brain and the importance of the first few years of a child’s life. Does the school district do enough reach the families of young children, so the children who show up at kindergarten at age five are prepared?

Our district takes the initiative to reach out to other preschools and daycares to align school readiness. In addition, early childhood screening ensures identification and services to children and families that may benefit from early intervention. This is a strength area for our district and the early assistance paves the way to a strong start for all children.

11. What separates your candidacy for School Board from your opponents?

I have the business training, experience and guts to manage the tough decisions that will be necessary during the next four years. I am committed to doing what is required to get the job done for our children. I have the passion to do whatever is necessary to help our children reach their full potential.