Biography

Name: Trevor Thurling

Address: 7061 Mill Creek Lane, Excelsior

Age: 34

Family: Stephanie (Wife), Calvin (7), Griffin (5), Harriette (3)

Employment: VP, Foreign Exchange, U.S. Bank

Education: B.A. (German) Pepperdine University, MBA, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Community involvement: Minnetonka Baseball Association Assistant Coach, 2018 and 2019, TreeHouse Hope and Children’s Minnesota recurring sponsor, Operation Christmas Child host and volunteer since 2013.

Previous experience: Associated Foreign Exchange 2008-2010, Wells Fargo Foreign Exchange 2010-2019.

Q&A

Why do you want to be on the Minnetonka School Board?

Quite simply, because I care about our schools and believe that my perspective and experience will be an asset to the district. I feel as though have a responsibility to advocate for our children and am fortunate that I am at a place in life where I can dedicate the appropriate amount of time and effort to effectively serve on the school board.

What is your view of the state of the school district?

We are tremendously fortunate to be part of such an incredible school district. A lot of work and dedication has helped Minnetonka realize our vision as a truly world-class example of public education. While this is something to be proud of, I am concerned that our current enrollment levels are not sustainable, and space constraints are beginning to have a negative impact on the student and teacher experience at our schools.

What would be your top priorities as a School Board member?

First, to increase transparency. While school administrators are ultimately trusted to make decisions relative to curriculum, scheduling, classroom numbers, etc. the community has a right to be informed of these decisions in a timely manner, and an opportunity to participate in the conversation. This includes revisiting the annual parent survey to determine if there is a better method of soliciting and responding to feedback throughout the year.

Second, I share the opinion of many parents, teachers and community members that our schools have grown beyond the point of sustainability. We have heard since 2015 that there was no longer room for growth, but have watched enrollment rise consistently. The consequence is that students are faced with larger class sizes, and ultimately lose shared resources like music rooms which end up re-purposed into classroom spaces. This overcrowding is driven in large part by open enrollment, which currently accounts for over a third of our student population. The district has been clear that that open enrollment is a significant source of revenue, but we need to admit that it is time to thoughtfully scale back the program.

What, if any, areas in the district budget should be adjusted?

At the time of this Q&A, the district has not yet walked the candidates through the specifics of the budget, so I cannot specifically identify areas of the budget that may or may not require additional review. I look forward to reviewing the detailed budget in the weeks ahead.

What should be done to address the achievement gap?

First we have to acknowledge that one exists at Minnetonka. The district currently compares the achievement of Students of Color at Minnetonka to their Caucasian peers nationwide. This is not relevant or useful. We need to address the difference in achievement compared to Caucasian students at Minnetonka schools, and identify where we can be doing more as a community to help close the gap both inside and outside the classroom.

What skills should be added or emphasized in classrooms to educate students for a 21st-century career or workplace?

Our coding program is a great example of preparing our students for a 21st century career experience. That said, I also believe that training for skilled jobs in the trades is an area we could address, as electricians, plumbers, welders, etc. are in high demand and there are not enough qualified workers to fill job openings at companies looking to hire skilled tradesmen/women.

How should Minnetonka Schools ensure the safety of its students?

Our schools do a great job of this already. We should continue to ensure that practical, physical safety measures remain in place alongside identity verification for visitors and robust screening of volunteers and staff. We should also ensure that students and staff are well educated about safety procedures and know exactly what to do in a crisis.

Have you ever been charged with a gross misdemeanor or higher, or been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy or foreclosure?

No

Getting to know you

Favorite book or movie?

Book: "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell

Last live show or concert you attended?

Stephanie and I joined some friends to see “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Orpheum this summer. It was fantastic!

Favorite subject in school?

History

What would be the title of your life story?

I’ve spent 30 years combined in Colorado and Minnesota, so “Winter is Coming” seems appropriate

Dream vacation destination?

When our kids are older, I really want to take them on an African safari.

Favorite local business?

Adele’s Frozen Custard in Excelsior. It’s a favorite with our kids and a must stop whenever we have visitors in the summer!

Frances Stevenson is a reporter for the Lakeshore Weekly News, covering the communities around Lake Minnetonka.

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