Family: I’m 48 and married with three grown children and four grandchildren.
I’ve lived in the St. Cloud area since 1991. I’m a software trainer for Wolters Kluwer Financial Services, though many remember the former company as Bankers Systems. I have worked at my position for 13.5 years.
I was a coach in the St. Cloud Youth Hockey Association for more than 10 years as my sons moved through the different levels of play. I was also a parent booster for the Tech “Tigerettes” as my daughter participated during her high school career.
Why are you qualified to serve on the school board?
I’m a former high school and middle school science teacher. I’ve had three children attend the St. Cloud schools: Talahi, South Junior High and Tech High School. Currently my oldest granddaughter is attending Madison Elementary as a first-grader.
I believe there needs to be more transparency and accountability to the public from the school board. The passing of the lease levy this year is an example of the lack of both shown by the board. The lease levy, passed without voter approval, raised property taxes across the district. I will not support additional taxes being levied without voter approval. If the projects are clearly defined and the need explained, then I believe the taxpayers will approve the additional spending. The citizens in the St. Cloud and surrounding communities have proven this by previous approval of the increases to build Kennedy Community School. That project was a success because the public was involved in open and transparent discussions from the start.
This past legislative session, the state gave the school boards limited authority to increase operating tax levies without voter approval. This is something many local districts lobbied for at the state legislature. I do NOT support an operating levy increase without getting voter approval.
There is a constant tug-of-war about school testing. Do they count or don’t they? How much credence should we ascribe to so many tests? Do they truly help improve education or do they cause more stress and misguided focus than they are worth?
If a test shows the school in a positive light, people get to point and say, “see how much better this school is over other schools.” If the test shows the school in a negative light, then the school can receive additional funding to “increase test scores.”
Testing is a necessary tool to measure understanding and mark progress. There are many ways to “test” and one size does not fit all. Classroom teachers use different methods to present the information to the students, and there can be different ways to test comprehension. I’m in favor of many small tests over time; this can catch struggling students before they are lost, as it is easier to make many small corrections rather than fewer and larger changes.
Testing is the only measure we have to compare one program to another. It’s the only tool the state has to standardize evaluation. I believe we need to have a measurement tool, and until we can decide on something different, a test is what we use.
Horrific examples of bullying continue to make local and national news. Have you closely examined the district’s policy about bullying? What would you change, if anything, in that policy?
The district has developed an extensive program to educate and inform about bullying and intimidation. I would not change anything specific in the current policy. I want to remind people to use common sense when applying the policy. I do not believe in “zero” tolerance without question.
Do you think sports are overemphasized or underemphasized in this school district? Do you think the district spends too much – or too little – on sports activities?
Athletics can be an important part of a young person’s school experience. For some students being part of a sports team or individual athletic endeavor is the thing that keeps them engaged in school. To say the district spends too much or too little is difficult to measure in dollars. Are there places we should look at trimming budgets? Yes. There may be places we need to invest, and expand opportunities for more students to participate.
What should happen to Tech High School?
I think the existing building is not suitable to continue as a first class high school. The facility needs to be replaced, but the question is where? I believe the current board is moving too fast in deciding the final location where the new building should be built. I believe there are three viable options available: one option is to build a new Tech building using land just north of the current building; the second and third options are sites located in the southern part of the district. I believe the taxpayers and people of the district deserve to have all options discussed in many open forums.
I would like to see the district repurpose the original building, possibly as a place to co-locate the programs that were displaced when Roosevelt was destroyed by fire.
Do you think the theory of evolution should be taught in schools, with or without the theory of creationism?
As a former science teacher this is a question I often received from my high school students. I believe all life evolves, and how that progression occurs over time is something that should be taught as science theory. The theory of creationism is a topic for discussion in a religious studies course. This does not mean I don’t believe in creationism; I do.
Creationism, as a theory, is born out of religious belief as to how life started. Evolution is a way to study how life has changed over time.