Why are you running for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Board of Education?
I am running for School Board because I believe there are many great things happening in the district but also many challenges that need to be addressed in the coming years — most significantly around declining enrollment, ongoing budget challenges and concerns about the reputation of the district. I believe that my experiences as a volunteer and parent in the district give me the background to be able to make informed decisions in a manner that takes into account the needs of all stakeholders in the district.
What skills and qualities would you bring to the school board if elected?
- Positive relationships with parents, teachers and others in the district
- Volunteer experiences, including co-chair of the “Vote Yes” Citizens Committee that worked to successfully pass our school levy in November 2017
- Member of the ISD191 Finance Advisory Committee
- 10 years as a volunteer traffic watchdog at Gideon Pond
- More than 20 years working for an intercultural educational organization
- Willingness and desire to listen to concerns and ensure transparent decision-making processes
What is your philosophy when it comes to budgeting?
Providing a safe, positive and productive learning environment for every student needs to be the top goal of anyone working in the district. All budget decisions should factor in the impact on students and should be made with the belief that the decision will improve the quality of the education being offered to our students or, at a minimum, not decrease the quality. When cuts need to be made, we need to ensure that all levels of the district are being examined for potential cuts, and we need to minimize the direct impact of any cuts on the students.
What do you believe has caused the declining enrollment the district has experienced for the past decade?
In my own experience and observation, I believe that declining enrollment numbers in the district can be attributed to several challenges — an aging population of district residents, which leads to fewer young people living in the district; concerns from some parents about the reputation and safety of our schools; and how administrative staff address these concerns. I believe the district could be doing more to address the reputation of our schools, as a lot of very positive changes have been implemented over the last few years, and it doesn’t always seem that there is very high awareness and acknowledgement of them. Some of the decline could also be attributed to concerns from some parents about how the administration treats teachers and other staff — especially after the contentious teacher contract negotiations earlier this year.