Biography

Name: Kris Newcomer

Address: 14204 Windsor Road, Minnetonka

Age: 62

Family: Alison, 3; Sam, 30; and Michael, 25

Employment: Executive Director, Firefly Sisterhood

Education: BA University of MN, MA Oklahoma State University

Community involvement: Hopkins Education Foundation Board Chair, Referendum Chair, and Sheltering Arms Board of Directors

Previous experience: Currently serving on the Hopkins School Board, 2008-2019

Contact info: krisnecomer@gmail.com

Q&A

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

Free public education is a hallmark of democratic countries, our schools are where communities come together to educate all children, provide guidance on career and college readiness and develop life long learners. For me, education is the key to so many opportunities in life and making sure our community provides quality schools is critical to the next generation. My experiences, both in the corporate world and having served on the Hopkins School board for 8 years, will bring an institutional understanding of education and a broad worldview. I can think of no better way to give back to the district that has given my children so much.

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

The Hopkins school district is in an exciting place, with a vision of changing education for all kids. If you look at a classroom from 1919 and a classroom today, they look the same, yet our world is so different. We need to prepare our students for jobs that will not exist in the future. I believe we have the right leadership to accomplish our Vision 2031 goals.

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

There is a common misconception that the school board manages the schools, the only person we hire and fire is the superintendent. As board, we work through policy, fiscal responsibility and participation is strategic planning to move the work of the district forward. I am excited about Vision 2031 and as a school board member will whole- heartedly support the endeavor.

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

When 80% of your budget is salaries and you negotiate with collective bargaining units, the flexibility you have in a school district budget is small. Much of the other 20% is subject to state and federal statues. While the state has not kept up school funding to match inflation, it is hard to make big adjustments in a school district.

I believe we should protect the amount of money we allocate to general education as much as possible, keeping any cuts away from the classroom, but the state is making it hard to do.

What should be done to address the achievement gap?

You can’t innovate your way out of the achievement gap. One of the goals of Vision 2031 is to reduce racial predictability on standardized tests, which to me the tests only a snapshot in time of a student’s ability. We need to review not only how we teach but also the methodology of current reading and math curriculums. Is a whole language-reading program really the right way? We’ve been using it for years and we have not moved the needle on test scores. Are phonics based reading programs, such at the Orton-Gillingham method better? It is our job as a school board to ask these tough questions.

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

Schools will never stop teaching reading, math, science, social studies and the arts. It the core of educating a child. But since we do not have any idea of what our current first graders will be doing upon high school graduation, we need to focus on boarder skills within context of the academic subjects. These skills include critical thinking, cultural literacy, digital literacy, and moving between working collaboratively and independently.

How should Hopkins Schools ensure the safety of its students?

The first step in ensuring the safety of our students is relationships. Every strident in our district should have at least another person, beyond their teacher, who takes an interest in them as a student. This can be as simple as listing every student at the beginning of the year and identifying which students do not have any relationships outside the classroom, and assigning someone to get to know that student.

Our community has been generous with bond money to allow us to continue to safeguard our schools through technology, secure entrances and cameras. We should continue this work.

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?

"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn"

Last live show or concert you attended?

Many Guthrie Theater productions

Favorite subject in school?

Humanities

What would be the title of your life story?

“She was Curious”

Dream vacation destination?

Any where in the world that is not just sitting on a beach.

Favorite local business?

All the small mom and pop stores, they are the fabric of our community.

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

Events

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