In the Rockford School District (Independent School District 883), three candidates are running unopposed for three seats on the Rockford School Board. The three are incumbents Amy Edwards and Jessica Johnson and newcomer Jenny Kneeland. The three seats come with four-year terms.

ISD 883 covers all or part of the cities of Corcoran, Rockford, Greenfield, Delano and Loretto.

The three candidates were asked to submit biographical information and responses to two questions. Find the questions in each candidate’s statement.

Here are responses submitted by candidates:

 

Amy Edwards

Biographical info:

Address -Rockford

Education -St. Olaf College, nursing degree

Occupation -Healthcare executive in large health care system

Community involvement -Youth athletics; ISD 883 school board, currently serving as chair, elected in November 2016. Participant in advocacy groups such as the Association of Metro School Districts and Minnesota School Board Association.

Contact -Edwards4Ed2020@gmail.com

 

1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the school board’s budget?

I would not make major adjustments to distribution of funding within the school budget. In 2019 we received state and federal funds for COVID-19 related expenses, inclusive of technology. Overall, distribution of spending is aligned with other districts across the state, with a greater spending on direct educational funding. It will be important for the district to anticipate spending needs over the next five to 10 years.

The state has yet to clarify the future basic state aid formula, considering the impact COVID-19 has had on our local economy and revenue. While initial technology funding was critical, through one-time funding sources such as the IB grant and the CARES act, a plan for long-term sustainment will be equally important. Continuing to dialogue with state legislators about equity in education and levy equalization is critical for districts such as ISD 883 to ensure that education funding does not continue to disproportionately affect one community over another.

2. What is the most important thing you feel students and parents face this year?

The most important thing students and families face is change, a sea of it, and the ability to adapt within it. Our education system has been turned upside down with the impact of COVID-19, processes and learning environments.

A year ago, it was a novel idea to consider distance learning for snow days. Now, distance learning is a daily reality. It is critical to ensure that we meet all student needs - social, emotional, educational and safety. There is no pandemic playbook. The country is learning as we go. Each student is unique. For some, these new learning models close gaps and for others a new gap might become evident. We need to ensure that these gaps are understood and closed. As new information becomes known, ability to adapt is critical as we proceed into this school year. Honest and open conversations among students, parents, educators, administrators and community partners will be key to navigating this challenging educational landscape.

 

Jessica Johnson

Four years ago I explained my reasons for seeking a Rockford School Board seat. In those four years, a lot has changed in our world and school district. My commitment to our district has not changed.

Rockford Area Schools have been a part of my whole life. I have been be a student from K through 12, alum, employee, teacher, constituent and, since January 2017, school board member.

I received a BA from Gustavus Adolphus College in Elementary Education. After being hired to teach in Rockford, I pursued my masters degree in education at the University of St. Thomas in the area of Learning Technologies. My work experience includes over 20 years in education in the roles of classroom teacher, mentor, coach, long-term substitute, guest teacher and school board member. These roles have given me a unique perspective that I believe is very valuable to our school district. My perspective and strong commitment to education guide me as a school board member.

I am a mother of two high school students in Rockford. I have been blessed with the opportunity to watch them grow up in our community and participate in many activities. I believe my children have received a strong and well-rounded education in Rockford. The Arts Magnet Program and STEM Program have offered many unique and valuable opportunities to students.

I am excited about the International Baccalaureate Program at our high school. Our high school staff has worked hard over the past two years to implement a strong IB program, completing our K-12 magnet school programs for students in our district. We are fortunate that children in our school district get the opportunity to experience three different magnet school programs, which I believe gives them a well-rounded education.

If reelected to the board of education, I will continue to work hard to guide and make decisions to improve our school district. I will continue to stand up for students, parents, community members, teachers and staff to make Rockford Area Schools outstanding and a leader in education.

 

Jenny Kneeland

Biographical info:

Education - High school diploma and courses/continuing education taken for different licenses

Occupation - Mobile Food Manager and Lunchbox Express Director at RiverWorks in Rockford

Community Involvement - Work with RiverWorks, volunteer with Nourishing Hope, giving blood at local blood drives, involved in school functions

 

1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the school board’s budget?

As a member of the school board, I will want to make sure that the main focus of the budget is geared towards helping our students achieve their goals. Whether their goals are based on academics, on the arts, or on sports, all of our students deserve help from the school district to achieve and exceed whichever goals they choose.

2. What is the most important thing you feel students and parents face this year?

As the step-parent of a current Rockford High School student, I can answer this from first-hand experience. This is a different type of school year for everyone - students, parents, teachers, school staff, and school administrators.

What I believe the most important thing we are facing this year is the mental and social health of our students. Thinking back on my time in school, I had structure. I had the opportunity to see my friends and classmates every day. I had activities and groups I was involved in.

That looks a lot different now. We need to be there for our students to keep them focused, and to give them a sense of purpose. We need to make sure that they are happy and that they get the necessary nutrition, activity, and time away from a screen to ensure they can stay focused when they need to. Most families rely on the schools to do all of that for the kids, and I think that might be wearing on our students and our families.

 

Copyright © 2020 at Sun Newspapers/ APG Media of East Central Minnesota. Digital dissemination of this content without prior written consent is a violation of federal law and may be subject to legal action.

Load comments