Address: 470 Liberty Heights Drive, Chaska

Age: 44

Family: Laura (spouse), Noella (daughter, 12), Becca (daughter, 10) and Lucia (daughter, 5)

Employment: CEO at Miromatrix Medical Inc., Eden Prairie

Education: Ph.D. in Developmental Biology, Genetics, and Cellular Biology (University of Minnesota), M.S. in Biomedical Engineering (University of Minnesota) and B.S. in Biochemistry and Cellular Biology (University of Minnesota-Duluth)

Hobbies/interests: Spending time with family, fishing, camping, running, scuba diving, traveling and education

Previous experience that would prove helpful in position: School Board Member of District 112 for the past eight years and School Board chair for the past nine months.

Contact info: jross0131@gmail.com; 763-458-8801 Why are you running for this position?

I have had the privilege to serve as a School Board member for the past eight years and as chair since January. Education and the need for strong public schools has always been a passion of mine.

I believe I have the dedication, commitment, business experience, compassion, and educational experience to make a positive impact. This is rooted in my firm belief that there is no substitution for a great education and the opportunities it creates for our students and children, as they deserve the best. I am, and will be, committed to improving the quality of education at all levels.

What are the three top priorities you plan to focus on if elected?

Improving the quality and experience of education is of the greatest priority to me. I believe that a strong and healthy school district provides unlimited opportunities for our students and serves as the cornerstone of our community.

I will continually seek improvements to make our district’s schools better through: 1) continue to support personalized learning and accountability; 2) improving trust and involvement between the community and school district; and 3) striving for mutual respect in the classroom and ways to value and retain our great teachers.

These are in addition to providing the best education possible during COVID.

How would you address the current budget shortfall?

The failure of the last referendum coupled with COVID is having an impact.

The greatest priority should be on maintaining and improving the quality of education for our students to maximize the taxpayers’ investment and student potential. We can achieve this through: 1) analyzing operating and capital budgets to maximize efficiencies and being willing to cut areas of inefficiency 2) exploring other funding opportunities for key programs and innovative ways to collaborate with local industry and businesses to provide educational experiences without additional costs and 3) planning, effectively communicating and building the next referendum to support our students and teachers.

What, if anything, would you change regarding how the district addresses equity?

The goal of the district is where everyone feels welcomed, safe and included, and every child has access to the tools and opportunities to succeed. Equity and inclusion continues to be a journey for the district and it is important work.

We have found the term “equity” lends itself to many definitions and a key aspect is further defining what equity means and equally important, what equity is not. This will help dispel the misinformation such as limiting the progress of students, indoctrination, or the notion of critical race theory. Continuing to get the community input into the process is important.

How would you navigate in-person and distance learning during the pandemic?

Having lived this experience as the school board chair for the past six months, I can honestly say it has been the most challenging and also rewarding. The strength of our district can be seen in the ability to hire a new superintendent, assistant superintendent and two principals during the pandemic while rolling out a great plan.

There is no perfect answer this year and we are offering solutions to help family at all levels both in person and distance. The dedication of teachers, staff, leadership and our community to help our students has been overwhelming.

Have you been charged in the past year, or ever been convicted, of a misdemeanor or higher, or been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy or foreclosure?

No.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.

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