Name: Keith Yapp
Family: Spouse Tammie. Kids: Joshua, Jacob, Alyssa
Employment: Civil engineer with Stantec for more than 25 years. Currently the team leader of the St. Cloud office.
1. Please share relevant background and experiences: We have lived in Sartell for more than 15 years. Our two boys both graduated from Sartell and Alyssa is still attending high school. We have always been engaged in our kids’ academic careers and are active supporters of the music and athletics programs. As a civil engineer, I have worked with many different decision-making bodies throughout the years. I know what it takes to dig into the details of issues facing those bodies and how to work together to make well-informed decisions.
2. What, in your opinion, is the major issue facing the school district?
There is no question the district, like most other tax-supported bodies, must be fiscally prudent with its constituents’ tax dollars. The district’s biggest challenge is to continue to provide opportunities for the students that maintain its top-rated excellence in academics and prepare the students for life after high school, all while working with tighter budgets.
3. How would you address that issue, if elected?
I believe there is no single magic solution that anyone can provide. It will take hard work and innovation to look for opportunities to do more within the budget. My background provides me that experience. I am always looking for ways my clients can save money overall by combining multiple needs into one solution. As an engineer, I am a problem-solver. I like to dig into the issues, ask questions, challenge the team working on the problem and ultimately come up with a well-thought-out solution that is not short-sighted. I do not advocate change for change’s sake, but I also do not accept status quo because “we have always done it this way.”
4. If the school district is forced to make cuts, in which areas would you make the cuts?
Not being an incumbent, I think it would be irresponsible of me to presume what cuts should be made without full knowledge of the problem at hand. Elected officials, or those seeking office, should always make informed decisions and not make rash judgments with limited or no information. As a board member, my job will be to make the best decisions I can after carefully listening to input from staff, parents, students and experts in that area. I do not seek this position with any predetermined changes in mind. I do, however, have an open mind and a strong desire to do what is best for our children’s overall education.
5. What are the top strengths and the most serious weaknesses in the district?
I feel in order for the district to maximize the educational opportunities for its students, we must provide a solid well-balanced foundation. That foundation is comprised of academics, arts and athletics. I like to think of it as a three-legged stool where each leg is one of these three pillars of the child’s overall education. If one of the pillars is weak, the overall opportunity for that child to reach his or her potential is diminished. Right now, the district has a solid foundation on the academic side, athletics (which I include extracurricular sports and physical education) is largely solid, but the arts is the one leg that is currently weaker than the others. This area needs some attention to bring the overall program opportunities for our kids up to the caliber of the other two. I look forward to working with the board and staff on this issue.
I also feel we need to review our current operating procedures to maximize the time spent teaching and helping the students and minimize those activities (e.g. meetings, paperwork and more) that are not required or productive.
6. How do you feel about the introduction of advertising in school buildings by companies that give “perks” in exchange for those advertisements?
As stated earlier, we need to be innovative to do more with the same or less resources. I am in favor of looking at a well-reasoned advertising plan to help fund some of the district needs. Advertisers would have to be in concert with the principles of the district and the funded item(s) would also have to be in the best interest of the students within the bounds of good judgment. My personal observations are that many districts have some sort of an advertising plan in place.