Jeffrey L. Smith
Address: 7051 Cambridge Road
Family: Jenny (wife); Ian (son, senior at SHS); Carter (son, sophomore at SHS)
Employment: IT manager at Pearson VUE in Bloomington (16 years)
Education: Bachelor’s in Management Information Systems from St. Martin’s University
Hobbies/Interests: Mountain biking, motorcycling, concert and jazz band (trombone), traveling, music, movies, reading, board and computer games
Previous experience that would prove helpful in position: Shakopee High School Band Boosters president; SHS Mountain Bike Team assistant coach; Scott County volunteer veterans mentor; 27 years service Army, National Guard, Army Reserve
Contact info for public: Jeff@JLS2.com, 952-451-5548 Why are you running for this position?
I believe patriotism equals service. I want to continue my lifetime of service to my country by contributing to the improvement of our community’s excellent school district. Strong schools contribute to a strong community.
What are the top three issues you would face during your term?
1. Hiring and retaining quality teachers and staff.
2. Building and maintaining the fund balance to preserve important programs such as College in Schools (CIS), middle school sports and 5th grade band, and keep class sizes down.
3. Continue to improve transparency with the Shakopee community.
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?
About how many Shakopee School Board meetings have you attended?
Ten, in person, online, and YouTube.
Amid the pandemic, the district is following a detailed learning plan that gives students the option to enroll in either a separate online learning program or enter into in-person, hybrid or distance learning, depending on current COVID-19 numbers in the county. With what do you most agree or disagree with in the COVID-19 learning plan for this school year?
I admire the tireless efforts of district leadership and the school board, as well as our excellent teachers, to handle this unprecedented crisis. The hybrid and distance options provide the most choice and flexibility for families and students, and allow the district to adapt to changing conditions. Throughout the year Shakopee has been proactive and better prepared than many other districts.
The district has not been operating under a healthy unassigned fund balance since the 2013-2014 school year. The school board recently approved a ballot measure for a $9 million phased-in operating levy to be paid over the next four years to mitigate a $2.5 million budget deficit. How should the school board go about restoring its fund balance to the recommended 8 to 12 percent of the district’s annual spending?
The district has clearly spelled out our financial challenges at school board meetings, special presentations, and on its website. We are underfunded, $1,250 per student below the metro average. Significant cuts will occur this year whether or not the levy passes. If the levy does not pass the only option is to cut teachers, scale back important programs such as middle school sports, 5th grade band, and College in Schools. The consequences to our community’s long-term health will be severe: students will miss out on opportunities and we will not be able to attract and retain quality teachers.
Racial equity has been a topic of national interest in recent months. How do you feel Shakopee Schools can do better for students of color?
Encourage diversity in hiring teachers and staff. Expose students to role models of color. Invite community members to become partners in educating.
What, if anything, would you like to change in the school district? What, if anything, would you like to continue supporting?
Shakopee is an excellent school district, performing extremely well given its financial underfunding challenges. Our award-winning teachers continue to work here despite below-average salaries, even after this year’s raise. I’d love to see our school district represent the large community Shakopee has become by getting the financial support it needs and deserves from its citizens to retain our teachers and important programs, and keep class sizes small. Strong schools build strong communities. Please vote yes for kids Nov. 3.