Name: Jason Nies
Family: Wife Kim Thyen Nies. Four children – Mac, 10th grade SHS; TJ, seventh grade SMS; Mitiku, third grade PME; Genet, first grade PME.
Employment: Senior Network engineer for Unified Communications at Enventis (Plymouth), a subsidiary of HickoryTech. My work consists of installing and supporting VoIP phone systems for mid- to large-sized companies.
1. Please share relevant background and experiences.
As a resident of Sartell for more than 25 years, an alumnus of Sartell High School and a parent to four children at three different schools in our district, I have a vested interest in maintaining the high standard and reputation that has been established in our great district. My willingness to listen to the shareholders of this district, my desire to learn about the business side of this district and my passion for technology makes me a great candidate for school board.
2. What, in your opinion, is the major issue facing the school district?
As with all districts in Minnesota, one of the major obstacles in providing a quality educational experience in our district is insufficient state and federal funding. In a 2010-2011 survey (conducted by MN2020), 93 percent of the superintendents stated the current model for educational funding was not good. During the last decade, per-pupil state aid to schools has declined almost 13 percent. That has forced districts to rely more on levies, which thankfully our community has been in support of.
3. How would you address that issue, if elected?
As a board member I would continue to be fiscally responsible while always making sure the focus remains on the educational experience of the students of this district. I will do my best to ensure that fiscal decisions do not jeopardize the quality of our students’ education.
4. If the school district is forced to make cuts, in which areas would you make the cuts?
The school board has done a great job in the past of being fiscally responsible. The district continues to get great support from the community as evidenced by the passing of last year’s levy (and other levies/bonds in the past). If we continue to be fiscally responsible, it would be my hope that cuts would not be needed. If during the course of my term that cuts were in fact needed, the school board would need to work hard to make sure our students’ learning experience is not directly affected.
5. What are the top strengths and the most serious weaknesses in the district?
Our administrators and teachers are the greatest asset of our district. We have an exceptional group of teachers in this district who go above and beyond their responsibilities to educate the students. They dedicate hours and resources outside of their job descriptions to assure academic success for all. It is not uncommon to receive emails from our children’s teachers in the early hours of the morning, in the evening and even on the weekends regarding classroom updates. They arrive in classrooms early or stay late, on their own personal time, to assist kids with homework. We need to continue to support our teachers with manageable class sizes, the tools to enhance the education of all students, including enhanced technology and all the resources to do their jobs effectively with the most positive outcome for all students.
I believe we have a great opportunity to enhance the communication and increase community participation throughout our district.
6. How do you feel about the introduction of advertising in school buildings by companies that give “perks” in exchange for those advertisements?
In order to make an informed decision, I would need more information regarding such an arrangement, such as where is the advertising going to be placed – scoreboards, classrooms, lockers or school buses? What are the monetary implications of such an arrangement?