Janelle Henry*, District 728 School Board

Janelle Henry*

Age: 60

Family: Husband-Jim; daughter-Tina and son-James

Occupation: I am the Assistant Store Manager at Skechers at the Albertville Premium Outlet Mall.

Previous civic and community involvement: Girl Scout Leader for 5 years; Tutor with Community Education for 6 years; Served on the School Board from 2002-2006 and 2008-present; Served as Vice-chair and Chair of the School Board; Served for 5 years on the School Board of the Northwest Suburban Integration School District; Served as Vice-chair of the Northwest Suburban Integration School Board.

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

I am currently on the School Board and am seeking re-election to continue the amazing strides forward the Board and District has made over the last 4 years. MCA math and reading scores are the highest ever recorded in the District. More students are enrolled in Advance Placement than any other time in the District with over 500 college credits earned

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

 I was a history major in college graduating with at Bachelor of Arts in Education. I have been a teacher in the past and currently tutor students in our District through Community Education. I have served on the School Board for a total of eight years. Our children getting a quality education is my priority.

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.

The greatest potential for growth are the nine priorities of the Strategic Plan especially the priority of all day/everyday Kindergarten. This priority has the potential to lower costs for the District. If children are provided a good educational foundation they do not have to repeat grades or classes at upper levels thus lowering educational costs.

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

The biggest threat is and will be financial especially if the two levies do not pass. The passing of these two levies is critical in order to maintain current staffing levels and class sizes in all the schools as well as programs and services. New technology is needed in our schools for our students to be successful in school and after graduation.

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

I strongly support both. We have made significant strides over the last few years with the raising of test scores to new highs. This needs to continue. Failure to pass will result in programs being cut, staff being cut resulting in larger class sizes and elimination of services. We need all day/every day Kindergarten as well as technology improvements.

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?

Only the elements that require little to no money could be done. The approach to cuts would be made with the least impact on students. Some programs would need to be cut. Elective classes would be reduced and potentially eliminated. Class sizes could potentially increase. Improved technology in the schools may be eliminated.

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?

The adding of auditoriums needs to be addressed as part of a total package to address equity issues in all parts of the District. Each school in our District lacks items other schools have within the District. These could all be addressed in the future with bonding once the economy recovers.

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?

Two months ago I gave the board members a list of at least 12 issues that need to be done to have full equity within the District. The list included building an elementary school and high school, auditoriums, field houses, as well at expanding the STEM and magnet programs to all elementary and middle schools, and Community Education facilities in all parts of the District.

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?

We need to work with local businesses to start work study programs in all parts of the District. Students would learn necessary skills in their areas of interest. Local businesses would train the students and have new employees upon graduation. If further education is needed or desired, these students would already be ahead of others because of skills learned on the job.

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?

Through programs offered by Community Education, Early Childhood Family Education, Early Childhood Special Education, and Head Start the families in the District are offered many programs to prepare their children for kindergarten. Early Childhood screening is offered to check the physical, developmental and emotional growth of all 3 and 4 year olds within the District.

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

I have eight years experience as a School Board member. I served when there was massive building taking place because of huge growth within the District as well as when necessary cuts had to take place because of the economic decline. I have served as vice-chair and chair of the Board as well as vice-chair of the Northwest Suburban Integration School Board.