Family: Husband Gordy. Four children – Ali, 22; Zoe, 19; Grant, 15; Trent, 13. All children have or are currently attending school in District 748.
Occupation: Part-time executive consultant for the Sartell-St. Stephen Education Foundation – a separate 501 C3 non-profit, supporting leading-edge academic programming for the students of District 748.
1. Please share relevant background and experiences
I have been actively engaged in the Sartell–St. Stephen education community for the past 23 years, serving in many educational capacities in District 748: student teacher, coach, substitute teacher, paraprofessional, high-school and middle-school teacher and school-board member (2000-2008). While on the school board, I held many roles: treasurer, clerk, vice chair and chairperson (two years). Committees served: Budget Planning, School/City Task -Force, Community Education Advisory, Curriculum Advisory, Early Childhood Advisory, Facilities Planning, Sartell-St. Stephen Education Foundation, Safe-Drug Free Schools, and Minnesota State High School League Region 8 representative. I was involved in the interview process for six administrators, including a successful superintendent search for Dr. Dale Gasser in 2006. Our board provided leadership in many critical areas during a time of substantial student growth. While many districts were in statutory operating debt, our district consistently maintained a positive fund balance. In 1998 and 2001, I was actively engaged in passing a voter-approved levy and building bond, construction of new school (Oak Ridge Elementary) and major expansion projects at the high school and middle school.
I chose to not seek a third school-board term in 2008. However, my district involvement continued as I served in the following roles: 2009-2010, 2012 executive consultant – Sartell-St. Stephen Education Foundation; member of Sartell All-Sports Booster Club/Girl’s Soccer representative; classroom volunteer – Oak Ridge Elementary and SMS; 12-year member of Sartell-St. Stephen Education Foundation Board of Directors; charter member SMS, Parent Advisory Council; and member of district’s levy/bond steering committee, 2011.
I am also an active volunteer outside of the school district: small-group guide for Celebration Lutheran Church for 12 years; 2008 Big Brother/Big Sister’s Board of Directors; member of Sartell Area Basketball Association (tournament director for three years); trustee – Central Minnesota Community Foundation; co-chair of Friends Committee for Centracare’s Holly Ball; tour organizer/community fundraiser St. Cloud Hospital expansion project; volunteer community representative for St. Cloud Times Editorial Board 2012; assisted my husband, Gordy, in raising funds for Pinecone Central Park Project; and member of the board of directors for the Central Minnesota Community Foundation.
2. What, in your opinion, is the major issue facing the school district?
A major issue that continually faces our district (and all other districts in the state of Minnesota) is the challenge of continuing to provide a high-quality educational experience for our students in the face of uncertain/insufficient state and federal funding.
3. How would you address that issue, if elected?
As I did as board member in 2000-2008, I will continue to be an advocate of conservative budgeting (do not spend what we do not have) and monitor best-practice programming for our students. My goal would be to manage resources and make all financial, policy, curriculum, technology and staffing decisions based on the premise: “What is best for our students?” A greater level of communication, community involvement and leadership will be necessary to maintain and enhance the educational experience for the students of District 748.
4. If the school district is forced to make cuts, in which areas would you make the cuts?
I do not see there would be a need for cuts in the foreseeable future. In November of 2011, district voters approved an increased per-pupil levy and bond for capital improvements. If the board determined cuts were necessary, my priority would be our students so as not to directly affect their classroom experience.
5. What are the top strengths and the most serious weaknesses in the district?
Strength: The outstanding staff in our district has created an educational environment that fosters positive growth and achievement for our students. District 748 continues to improve/expand course offerings for ALL students. Our staff uses assessment data to monitor and adjust curriculum to better fit the needs of students. Finally, our parents and the community at large take pride in our schools. The community’s overall satisfaction with District 748 has been proven by successful levies/bonds passed in 1998, 2001 and 2011. A supportive and engaged community equals successful students.
Weakness: Understanding the need for open communication. As a board member, I would model and encourage open communication and community involvement. I would use my past district/board experience and positive relationships I have built throughout the years with community and staff to restore confidence in board leadership. I would invite a greater staff, parent, student and community voice in order to create a welcoming environment at school board meetings. Fortunately, enhanced communication is an area that can be easily improved.
6. How do you feel about the introduction of advertising in school buildings by companies that give “perks” in exchange for those advertisements?
District 748 is fortunate to have many outside organizations, an educational foundation (SSEF) and generous individuals who support the district’s mission and goals. For example, theses groups have funded educational programming, donated musical instruments, technology and scoreboards. That being said, I would not be an advocate for advertising in school buildings at this time.