by TaLeiza Calloway
The third time around was all it took for newcomer Allen Dahlgren to clinch a seat on the St. Cloud School Board. The 53-year-old St. Joseph resident will take his post in January.
Dahlgren and newcomer Dennis Whipple defeated opponent Daniel Brill and will serve alongside incumbents Cynthia Harner and Les Green, who retained their seats on the board Tuesday. Five were vying for four open seats.
At 11:46 p.m. Tuesday, Dahlgren was in fourth place for one of four seats on the school board. The regional finance manager eagerly awaited final results but was pleased to see an early lead.
“I’m hopeful,” Dahlgren said. “I’m excited that I get on. It’s looking better for me.”
His hope was restored. With all precincts reporting, Dahlgren maintained the early lead he had over fellow newcomer Daniel Brill and ended the race with 17,307 votes, 17.8 percent of the vote. Brill trailed closely with 17,043 votes. Whipple came in third place receiving 20,011 votes.
Dahlgren looks forward to contributing to the management of the district. He doesn’t mind being in fourth place.
“One of the areas I’d like to see changed is better communication and participation with parents and schools,” Dahlgren said. “Better communication between the schools and the parents about students and their performance and what is going on in the curriculum and the school at all times.”
Whipple, 37, sees his victory as an exciting opportunity to work with school board officials to make St. Cloud the best school district it can be. Whipple is the executive artistic director of Great River Educational Arts Theatre in St. Cloud.
“I’m very excited for the win,” Whipple said. “Really excited to get to work in helping (increase) student achievement and creative thinking and getting technology for our students.”
Les Green received the majority of the votes Tuesday. The 69-year-old received 22 percent of the vote with 21,267 votes. Harner, the current chair of the school board, came in second with 20,800 nods, about 21.4 percent of the overall vote. The 45-year-old mother of three is advertising manager of Minnesota Trails Magazine.
Green, a retired St. Cloud State University administrator and faculty member, used one word to describe his victory: “Fantastic.”
“It’s a good duty,” Green said. “It’s always fun to work with people who are thoughtful regardless of whether they agree or disagree with you.”
Managing the growing diversity of the school district and making sure that all students are educated while improving student performance is Green’s focus. Superintendent Bruce Watkins announced his retirement in September. Green said he is not concerned about filling the vacancy. He says the challenge will likely be having too many good candidates to choose from.
“Bruce Watkins is a very unique person,” Green said. “He’s moved the district to a level that is very good. Now we’re involved in looking for leadership that will start where he left off and take us further.”
Newly elected members will join current members Peter Hamerlinck, Bruce Mohs and Jerry Von Korff, whose terms expire Jan. 5, 2015. This board will be in charge of finding a new superintendent for the district as well as deciding whether to seek another operational levy.