Mary Frantz of Prior Lake, one of eight candidates for three seats on the Prior Lake-Savage Area School Board, already has a long list of coffee shop meetings under her belt. People have been asking for her opinion on board issues for quite some time, and they’ve been asking her to run.
“I’m an absolute advocator for education,” she said. “I believe it gives kids choice.”
Frantz has always been heavily involved in education. She’s a coach for the National Science Foundation, a Minnesota Science Fair judge and a former GED and English as a Second Language instructor. She has volunteered for school districts in five different states. As the owner of a cybersecurity and technology company, Enterprise Knowledge Partners (eKp), she has also advised several school districts on technology initiatives and is a current board member of the Cyber Security Summit and Enterprising Women.
In spite of all this, she’s never run for office before.
“I’m not a politician,” she said. But she’s been watching the school district closely for a number of years, and she hasn’t been entirely happy with the way things have been run.
“Rather than just talking about it, I decided to do something about it,” she said.
Frantz grew up on the south side of Chicago and earned four bachelor degrees from Northern Illinois University: information technology, math, political science and Spanish. She also earned two master degrees: one in international business from the University of Chicago, and one in computer science and engineering from Georgia Tech.
She moved to the area 16 years ago. Before deciding where her son, Jordan, should go to school, she heavily researched the surrounding districts, scrutinized their course offerings and even sat in on classes. She ended up sending her son to a preschool in Richfield, and she doesn’t regret it. She saw it as the best choice she could make for her son. He now attends Benilde-St. Margaret’s School, a private school in St. Louis Park.
“That’s another reason why I was hesitant to run,” she said. She thought that the fact that she’d chosen outside the school district for her own child would turn off potential voters. But, she said, she’s still a member of the community, and looking for the right school for her son opened her eyes to the strengths and shortcomings of District 719 and its neighbors.
Besides her expertise in business, statistics, technology and education, Frantz hopes to bring her unique perspective to the board.
“I think some diversity of thought and process will be needed on the school board,” she said. “They seem to be very consensus-driven.”
Her approach to policy is less “black-and-white,” more input. She believes the attempted referendum last May was “a good thing,” but that the contract with Nexus Solutions was “a nightmare.” She’s a firm believer in incorporating technology programs into school curricula, but she wants goals and firm criteria for every implementation. Moreover, she wants more transparency and more community involvement in these decisions.
“I can’t get enough input sometimes,” she said. “I think we need that bidirectional feedback. And maybe the community won’t engage, but then you only have yourselves to blame if you don’t speak up.”
Frantz doesn’t have any delusions about swooping in, changing the direction of the school board and transforming the district overnight.
“I’m not a board member yet, and it’s probably much harder than it looks,” she said. But she does believe in the value of adding her particular perspective to the room.