Interview by 

Lake Elmo Elementary PTA

September 22, 2022

(Rough transcript prepared for an interview)

What past experience makes you qualified for this position?

The population within the Stillwater Area School District continues to shift, which has recently affected elementary school boundaries.  Additionally, a Community Design Team was formed in 2019 to consider the district's facilities needs and make recommendations to the school board on ways to enhance our facilities to better support our students. The design team reviewed all of the district's facilities and created a prioritized list of facility needs. A recommendation to the school board was presented on Feb. 20, 2020, with a top priority being rebuilding Lake Elmo Elementary School.  What thoughts do you have about either future boundary changes, or replacing elementary schools facilities such as Lake Elmo, to address the ongoing population shift occurring?  (60 - 90 seconds)

 

I served on that 2019 Community Design Team.  Some things, especially personnel, have changed since then along with  the Covid disruption.  Homes are still getting built.  I know, because I often have to drive a bus around the construction.  Recently, I picked up students in the Wildflower development just north of Lake Elmo, but I took them up to Rutherford.  The need for a school is there and I don’t anticipate opposition to that.  But the debate could get lively with the how and design.  One large school vs two smaller one.  It will probably be two larger ones.  Census data and community input will inform a lot of that decision making.  I am sure that will include many of you participating now or watching later. 

 

Amigos Unidos

 

The Amigos Unidos Dual Immersion program is beginning its sixth year.  The initial cohort is now in fifth grade and will be transitioning to middle school in Fall 2023.  Are you in favor of the district having an immersion program, and do you support its continued development into middle school and high school?  Why or why not?  (60 seconds).   

 

Amigos Unidos (AU) is a popular program. .   If staff and space issues are not too large of a hurdle, I think it should be continued. 


The school district has two specialized academic programs: the Amigos Unidos Dual Immersion program and GATE, the Gifted and Talented Education program.  Presently, the district provides transportation for all GATE students throughout the district, but is limited in public transportation opportunities for Amigos Unidos students.  Do you support bussing access to the Amigos Unidos program for all students similar to the GATE program?  Why or why not?  (60 seconds).

 

We are fortunate to be in a position now, vs the the past couple of years to even ask this question.  I don’t think bussing will be an issue.  If it is, it is more likely to be logistics vs the cost.  A  bus transporting UA students beyond its attendance area could make it impractical to get to its next tier (an elementary school) in time.  Again, we are in a lot better position to figure this out and I think we will

 

Technology

 

Recently voters in our community approved a replacement levy to help stabilize the budget, which will generate about $14.7 million per year for the next 10 years. Additionally, voters in our community approved of the district’s first-ever technology levy, commonly referred to as the tech levy, which is anticipated to generate about $4.7 million per year over the next 10 years for technology expenses.  Did you support the passage of these levies, and why or why not?  (60 - 90 seconds)

 

I did support both levies and even mentioned at the time that passing the levy was much more important than my own election.   Before my own election, I addressed the board with an imagined scenario of the levies not passing and the difficulties that would ensue with inevitable cuts.  Staying up to date on technology is necessary preparation for our students to be able to go home and help their Moms and Dads figure out the TV remotes.  And of course for their own futures. 


Future focus

 

What do you see as either the most important challenge or the most important opportunity facing the district in the next 5-10 years, and what is your vision for how to either meet the challenge you identify, or rise to the opportunity you identify? (60 - 90 seconds)

 

The Challenge and opportunity is to anticipate and manage the growth around Lake Elmo and Woodbury.   That is the operational side of things.  Also is to never slow down the emphasis of making the best k-12 experience available to all (and I repeat ALL) who reside here.  We need to recognize the needs and desires are different for different people and accommodate those differences.