by Dennis Dalman
Candidates elected to the St. Cloud School Board are all happy they won and upbeat about serving on the board starting in 2021.
The winners include two St. Joseph residents – Scott Andreasen and re-elected incumbent Al Dahlgren. Two other incumbents, Shannon Haws and Monica Segura-Schwartz, were selected by voters from a slate of seven candidates.
Scott Andreasen said he has taken an active interest in the St. Cloud School Board for many years. He lost a bid for election to the board four years ago and will now get the chance to serve.
Previously, he has served on several school-related committees such as the Finance Board.
“We bought Tech and Quarryview schools on time and under budget,” he said. “We bought the district out of bankruptcy at a great price. I look forward to serving on the board and doing my best for the St. Cloud Area School District.”
“I am very proud and happy to be elected for another term on the school board,” Dahlgren said. “It means a lot when the community reaffirms trust in my representation through re-election.”
Dahlgren will focus on helping navigate the district through the pandemic and getting kids back into the classrooms where the “most effective learning and teaching take place.”
Improving the school district’s image is important, he said, because the district is demographically challenged with much higher numbers of students in English language courses, special education, the area learning center and even some families experiencing homelessness. Those students, he said, generally don’t score as high as they could in testing.
“But if you compare demographically similar groups from district to district, St. Cloud 742 scores very well,” he added.
He also wants to improve the look and feel of all school properties as part of image-improvement.
Dahlgren said Apollo High School needs upgrades with flexible designs and learning equipment to fit with new teaching-learning models. That would include classroom laboratories.
The state legislature, he said, must start ending budget shortfalls for special-education programs and English language courses. The state, he said, must fully fund programs it mandates.
“We should not have to take from general-education funding to cover that shortfall,” Dahlgren said. “It puts us at a disadvantage in general-education funding.”
“I am honored and look forward to serving another term,” Haws said.
Currently, Haws is focused on keeping staff and students safe while supporting families through the constant series of changes caused by COVID-19.
“The (school) district is currently challenged with staffing shortages and teachers pulled in multiple directions,” she said. “I am committed to listening to families and staff and challenging the administration to deliver the best possible education in these difficult times.”
Another of Haws’ priorities is to monitor closely finances in this year of non-traditional operations.
“I am dedicated to transparency and delivering a rigorous, equitable and engaging education for all students. As part of the governing board, I will encourage the administration to continue examining surveys from students, staff and families. We need to listen to those voices who know first-hand our strengths and weaknesses.”
“I just want to thank our district community for giving me the chance to serve in this role,” said Monica Segura-Schwartz, who was re-elected. “In terms of priorities, I will say getting over the pandemic, helping families and students to understand expectations and figure out what is our next step in this new learning system. Also, I want to continue my support for mental-health wellness for students and staff, which is very important right now, but also beyond Covid-19.”
Segura-Schwartz, a strong supporter of the arts, wants to keep promoting arts education and determining how arts fit within changing priorities and work.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.