Tom McAuley, District 728 School Board

Tom McAuley


Age: 37

Family: My wife Carrie and I have a seven year old attending Twin Lakes Elementary and a four year old attending New Horizen Academy.

Occupation: Rental Property Management

Previous civic and community involvement: Currently president of my neighborhood home owner’s association

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

I have two young children growing up in this district and the decisions this board makes will affect their future. I want to help ensure that future is as bright as it can be, and I want to do it in a way that our entire community can be proud of.

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

I have an MBA and a Bachelor’s in Computer Science. I am a parent, a taxpayer, a small business and home owner who respects the hard work and effort that we all put into paying our taxes so that our schools can provide our children with a first rate education. Our teachers work hard, our taxpayers work hard and the School Board needs to work hard too.

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.

We asked everyone in our community for input on the plan; that is the most important part. We cannot ignore our community for 23 months between levy renewals—we must engage them as much as we can, as often as we can. This system belongs to ALL of our citizens and I think the more involved we all are the better.

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

We depend on our community to provide us with the resources necessary to educate our children, yet there is a perception that the schools only communicate when they need money. This leads to community members who feel disengaged from the school district. Everyone has a stake in this, and we need to make sure everyone is involved.

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

Our district, compared to others in Minnesota, does a great job managing the resources it has. There is no indication of waste here, and these levy questions are not out of line with other districts’ funding. I will be voting for both levy questions and I hope you will join me.

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?

We are already deficit spending and I can’t see any significant dead-weight left to remove; anything that goes now will hurt. Minimizing the impact to our children has to be the first priority, followed by improving our relationship with the community so that this does not happen in the future.

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 last bonding bill failed in 2007, and I agree with the administration’s assessment that the district is not likely to support such a measure now. Again, I believe communication is the key responsibility the board has. I like that we are involving our parents in the decision process by holding forums and that effort and others like it must continue.

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?

I believe that every child should have equal access to education and that our resources should be evenly and fairly distributed. This is basic fairness and I would make decisions no other way.

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 want our children to be prepared for tomorrow’s economy. For me this means an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). I want our kids to be doctors and scientists, architects and engineers. The decisions I make will be geared toward that objective.

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 believe that parents have the ultimate responsibility for the education of their children, for all age levels. Our schools are here to help, but they cannot be a substitute for solid parenting. It is sad and unfortunate that not all children are fully prepared for their future, but I do not believe we can fault the schools here.

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

I want a future where our community is proud of its schools; where they know that the school system works hard and is as efficient with their resources as they are. I want a school system that prepares all of our children for the economy to come and I want our teachers and taxpayers to both have the respect they deserve.