Address: 14574 Princeton Ave. S., Savage
Family: Married with three children enrolled in the district; ages 12, 9, and 5.
Employment: Sales Operations for Burnsville Company called DTN.
Education: BA in Business Administration from Augsburg College and a Masters of Business Administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota
Hobbies/Interests: Spending time with my family, reading, tinkering my garage and golfing.
Previous experience that would prove helpful in position: I am the only incumbent in the race and I have served as a youth coach, a PTO president and on various nonprofit boards.
Why are you running for this position?
I have always believed in the value of service, both in where I can help and as a role model for my children.
What are the top three issues you would face during your term?
Returning to a post pandemic world. Continual challenging budget conversations. Stemming the tide of declining enrollment.
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?
The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District’s student enrollment numbers have been declining steadily for 20 years. Why do you think some local families choose to attend public school elsewhere and what ideas do you have for attracting and retaining district students?
This is a matter of misperception and misunderstanding. We, at the district, need to continue to do a better job of informing the public and selling the positives of our district. As an incumbent, and insider, I am aware that we offer more to our families than any of our neighboring districts, whether it is in class sizes, advanced curriculums, free college credits, social and emotional support systems, diversity or staff experience.
Over 95% of teachers in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District are white, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Education, but white children represent less than 39% of the district students. What do you believe is needed to recruit and retain teachers of color?
I believe we do an excellent job of recruiting teachers of color and I can assure everyone that this district is committed to maintaining that objective. The challenge comes from the mix of budget reductions (driven by declining spending in education and enrollment) and contract obligations on how we can maintain staff.
The district’s unassigned fund balance — reserved for unexpected or contingent expenses — is projected to fall below 6% of the district’s expenditures this year. District policy calls for this fund to remain at 8% or higher. How would you look to rebuild the district’s financial reserves and what is your stance on the 8% policy?
The 8% threshold was set as an ideal and unfortunately it is one we have not been able to maintain. As someone who has sat for many hours in very tough conversations about this issue, I know for a fact how challenging it has been to find a balance between cutting programs (that we know will never be fully replaced) and staff, versus being flexible on that percentage. These have not been simple, or binary conversations and I am proud of the experience I have gained by being part of the discussions.
What makes you proud of ISD 191?
As I mentioned previously, I know that this district has more to offer its students and families than any other district around. I have three children in this district and I know that they are receiving a world class educational experience.
Why should voters choose you?
In my first term, I have experienced the hiring of two superintendents, challenging budget decisions, contract negotiations, the closure of schools and a global pandemic. I have served on our policy, student performance and achievement, technology and legislative committees. I am currently the vice-chair of our board. I am excited about new voices and diversity on our board, but I also believe continuity and experience are important. I am asking for one of your three votes, and I hope I can earn it.