Suad ‘Sue’ Said
Address: 13053 Penn Ave. S., Burnsville
Family: My Husband and four intelligent, strong girls ages 1-13 years old
Employment: State of Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
Education: BA in Social Work and A.A.S in Business Administration
Hobbies/Interests: Reading, nature walks, travel
Previous experience that would prove helpful in position: Parent volunteer at Gideon Pond, home visiting experience with children and families in Dakota County.
I’m passionate about giving back, equitable public education and being part of my community. I feel I can help connect certain bridges that can benefit our district to succeed. This position would also allow me to draw from my own experiences going to school in this district and now having my own children attending school here. Although this district has evolved and changed over the years in a positive way, there’s still more work to be done in an education system built to serve a certain group of students, and those students are not the majority in many of our schools anymore.
What are the top three issues you would face during your term?
The biggest challenge right now is COVID-19 and making sure our children, educators and community members are safe, healthy and understand what our plan is to safely start the school year.
Another issue that has been discussed over the years and I believe continues to make a huge impact is student enrollment numbers which continues to effect funding. We have to rethink our approach to education by partnering with families and community members.
Teachers are the world makers and give our children purpose, so I believe it is important for school board members to listen and address every concern and the challenges of our educators.
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?
I think for many families it’s due to a lack of communication or miscommunication they experienced. That alone creates fear and families could feel blindsided by decisions made by the district over the years. There were exit surveys done a few years ago and I think we must re-examine them to understand the reasons behind why families left.
I suggest we create a small task force to do this and it will help us create a new strategic plan to strengthen our schools and pathways. The district must continue to improve efforts to listen to and respond to families’ needs.
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 have two daughters that are attending Gideon Pond Elementary School and one daughter who attended there. My children succeeded because of the diverse educators there. We need to do better in recruiting and retaining educators of color that represent the student body, otherwise students of color will continue to fall behind because of the lack of access to classroom mentors. Research has shown again and again that minority boys and girls who have just one black or brown educator are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to go to college.
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?
There is a lot to learn about our district’s budget and funding priorities. Furthermore, our current budget emphasized priorities-driven approaches like support for social workers, cultural liaisons, counselors and plan to establish each of our schools as a Pathways school. Increasing class sizes as a short-term possibility and reorganization of administration positions. My stance on the 8% policy is that every type of organization needs a cushion to operate or continue to operate successfully against unexpected expenses. Much of our focus will be how to conduct the best possible education to our children during this pandemic safely.
What makes you proud of ISD 191?
I’m so impressed with how much our district has come together since I have graduated from BHS. I see how engaged and open-minded our educators are and they’re really learning from the students and their backgrounds. I succeeded in BHS because of the mentorship I received from educators, especially from Sandy Sweep who worked in the career center. She offered me her time, helped me see the possibilities of my future even when my home was chaotic at times, and she did that without judgement. We are on the right path and I’m determined to keep it going.
Why should voters choose you?
I believe with all my heart that it takes a village to raise a child and our community is more ready than ever before to implement changes and have those tough conversations about equity and inclusion in our education system. I want voters to know that I will always have time to listen to and support the needs of our children, families and educators. It is crucial I work side-by-side with community members who are passionate about education while understanding the importance of cultural awareness for our district to prosper. Let’s get to work on blazing a trail.