I endorse Emily Larson, Jen Smith and Scott Wenshau for Sartell-St. Stephen School Board.
Initially, I served the Sartell-St. Stephen School Board for two consecutive terms, from 2000-2008. When I retired in 2008, enrollment was growing, student performance was high, staff were engaged, and leadership and finances were strong. However, when the school board hired new leadership in 2010, the ship began to run off course. In 2011, board meeting attendance was on the rise, and disenfranchised parents filled the gymnasiums we used to hold meetings. District controversy attracted the national media. Then in 2012, staff and parents asked me to run again. However, with only one board vote, I could not resolve problems by myself, so I enlisted help. Four of us ran with similar goals, but we were individually elected. Immediately, our newly-elected majority brought back transparency, leadership and trust.
Does this sound familiar? While the particular issues today are different, the community concerns are the same: lack of transparency. Nine people running for three school board seats indicates a community desperate for change. This large candidate pool signifies an unhealthy school district with a leadership crisis.
It was obvious at the Oct. 5 candidate forum that three candidates stood out as leaders: Emily Larson, Jen Smith and Scott Wensahu. Their skills will steer #748 back to center. Larson, Smith and Wenshau will bring balance to the current, defunct school board. They will hold the unseasoned superintendent accountable and encourage him to lead in a way that is best for ALL students.
Larson, Smith and Wenshau want to put parents back into the equation. As invested parents and community members themselves, they further offer varied professional experiences: healthcare, business and law enforcement. They will listen to the public, analyze data and make the best decisions for ALL students in District #748.
District #748 needs to be steered back on a course where ALL students have an opportunity to succeed, feel safe and their parents feel informed.
Please vote on Nov. 8 for Emily Larson, Jen Smith and Scott Wensahu.