Family: I am the extremely proud mom of 3 boys – all graduates of Elk River High School…Jason 29, Jacob, 27 & Joey, 25. I am also blessed with 3 beautiful grandchildren Ella 4, Izzy 3, & JJ 2.
Occupation: I have been a hair stylist in Elk River for 24 years, and have owned my own salon for 16 of those years. I also work as an administrative assistant for Community Living Options in Zimmerman.
Previous civic and community involvement: Prior to my commitment to the School Board, I was very active with Habitat for Humanity taking groups of Prior to my commitment to the School Board, I was very active with Habitat for Humanity taking groups of teenagers and adults on trips across the country to help build homes for those in need. I spent a year on the board for Sherburne County Habitat for Humanity as well. Since being on the School Board, I have served for 3 years as a legislative delegate for the Minnesota School Board Association and have served for 2 years on the Executive and Legislative Boards for AMSD, setting legislative platforms to get our message to our legislature about what School Districts need from our State.
1.What prompted you to run for the Elk River Area School Board?
I’ve always been passionate with my ideas & thoughts about education & what kids need to become happy, successful, independent adults. 8 years ago I was encouraged by friends to put my money where my mouth was. At that time our district needed to change direction & be more accountable to the stakeholders. I knew I could help make that happen & I have much more to offer
2. What makes you qualified to be a member of the School Board?
My passion for kids and education. My common sense approach to life & its problems. My sense of community and my dedication to making our district a place where people want to bring their kids to learn. The fact that I work and live in the district and have the ability to have conversations with a variety of people every day through my work and my outside activities.
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 best part of our new strategic plan is that it involves so many people. Our first plan brought involvement and accountability to our administration. The new plan is more inclusive & brings the same accountability to every employee and to every community member. For the first time we have a plan that calls for a true investment from EVERYONE in our kids’s future.
4. What are the biggest threats the Elk River Area School District faces?
Two things: Losing kids to districts with all day every day kindergarten and more programs & lack of funding to provide these options. Our district spends it’s money very wisely & we wring every dime out of every dollar we can, but the state MUST fix the broken funding formula to provide true equity in funding so we can provide the same things other districts do.
5. Do you support the operating levy renewal? Why or why not? Do you support the second operating levy question?
YES & YES Without #1 there will be huge cuts to personnel and programs & thats a lose lose for kids…As for #2? Look around you – 2 & 3 year olds are playing with I Pads & electronic gadgets all day long. They are smart and very ready for all day every day kindergarten by 5 and if we greet them with out dated technology, we will struggle to keep them engaged & motivated
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?
The strategic plan is an ever evolving process…even when facing massive cuts, there will be parts of we can do now, and parts that will have to wait til finances turn around. The plan won’t change, it will just have to slow down. With cuts – unfortunately EVERYTHING will have to be looked at..people, programs, classes, activities… it will be devastating for our kids.
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 board should absolutely champion this endeavor – Auditoriums are necessary to High School curriculum. With finances stretched to the limit, we need to look to partnering with local cities and businesses to finance them. If Schwanns can build an ice arena & Target can build a baseball stadium, we can partner with local busineesses to help fund the arts in our schools
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 doesn’t always have to mean having the exact same programs in every building, but it does mean that we need to have the same set of standards for every school in the district. Our biggest focus needs to be getting equity in programming for our learners in our High Schools – through ITV, on line classes and/or additions to buildings – and we need to act now!
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?
Partnering with local manufacturers to get interested kids into their business 1/2 days.Incorporating what they learn on the job with our curriculum would tie in perfectly with our new strategic plan. Using our vast local resources would not only be cost effective, but an amazing way to integrate our schools and our communities, forming mutually beneficial partnerships.
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 has amazing programs in place to help families of children who have a difficult start in life. Our Community Ed, ECFE & ECSE programs are amazing. I would like to see these programs expanded & to be able to have the same facilities & programs in both the North and the South ends of our district, making them more readily accessible to everyone.
11. What separates your candidacy for School Board from your opponents?
I’ve dedicated 8 years to learning everything I can about what it takes to run a district with over 12,000 learners depending on us to do what is right for them. I now understand the “business” of education & can keep the momentum going for our learners without a huge learning curve I’m a lifelong resident with strong ties & a vested interest in our schools & communities.
Sue Farber*, District 728 School Board