Family: Mark, my husband of 23 years, and I have four children: John – 21yrs, Justin – 19yrs, Jessica – 18yrs, and Jared – 16yrs.
Occupation: I have been a self employeed business owner for the last 18 years.
Previous civic and community involvement: Member of the district’s Legislative Action Team (LAT) for the last two years, volunteer summer camp youth counselor, youth mentor at church, volunteered often in the 3rd grade classroom when my children were in grade school, and chaperoned many fieldtrips.
1.What prompted you to run for the Elk River Area School Board?
I have a heart for young people and a mind for business. I feel that is a great combination for a school board member to have. My children have come up through this district and now that they are older, I would like to give back and help ISD 728 be as efficient and successful as possible.
2. What makes you qualified to be a member of the School Board?
In this downturned economy, we need to do more with less. As a business owner, I have experience in making good economic decisions, prioritizing needs, and coming up with creative solutions. As a 19 year resident in the district, I’ve seen where we have come from and where we want to go. Having children in the district has given insight into it’s strengths and weaknesses.
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.
I am so thankful for the development of such a thorough strategic plan. Having a vision is the key to success. There are many good ideas included in the plan. Flexible scheduling, including online training, would offer many more class choices as well as potentially saving money for the district. All day-everyday kindegarten is beneficial, too.
4. What are the biggest threats the Elk River Area School District faces?
The biggest threat may be the threat to change. We need to be willing to look at new ways of doing things that could be more effective, both in the classroom and well as saving the district funds. The funding crisis is also a threat. We must work at obtaining a balanced budget regardless to how much funding we are receiving from taxpayers or the state.
5. Do you support the operating levy renewal? Why or why not? Do you support the second operating levy question?
I support the levy renewal because school funding across the board is down. With less taxpayer revenue due to lower property taxes and stagnant growth, and less funding from the state, I think the renewal is reasonable. The second levy I am not so sure about. It will be up to the taxpayers to decide if they want to pass it and increase their taxes.
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?
I believe all day everyday kindegarten should remain our goal regardless. I am optimistic that it can still be implemented and would help come up with creative ideas to do so. If the levies fail, we would need to explore every cost saving strategy possible to trim the budget.
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?
As I understand it, the school board is very supportive of the auditoriums and has promoted a community-led effort to gather ideas to help make it possible. Since the district has limited funds and will soon be deficit spending, we must rely on the help of the community for this to happen.
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?
Equity is important and necessary for a successful school district. I believe all the needs from across the district should be gathered and prioritized on an annual basis. I also understand that there is an effort to come up with a new name for the district that would be more inclusive. All ideas are welcomed.
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?
I would like to see more class choices offered in our high schools. Some can be more skills based classes that explore different career fields. We could invite leaders from local manufacturers and skill based careers to come into the classroom and talk to the students. Community involvement is valuable.
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?
I am not as familiar with the Early Childhood Education piece of the district, but I am aware that they have several programs in place and feel they have addressed this need well. I do think that all day everyday kindegarten should be available to all students in the district, but not mandetory.
11. What separates your candidacy for School Board from your opponents?
Having a passion for kids and a strong business background enables me to have a balanced approach to school board decisions. Living in the district for almost 19 years is beneficial, as well. I enjoy working with people and look forward to serving those in ISD728 if given the opportunity.