The general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 3. The race for three seats on the STMA School Board will be uncontested.
All three incumbents are running unopposed. Those candidates on the ballot include Kari Dwinnell, Hollee Saville and Drew Scherber.
The candidates were asked to include their thoughts in statements. Each were asked to include a short biography of themselves and their backgrounds as well as their personal and professional experiences. They were also asked to comment on two questions that were asked. (See questions belows in each statement).
The responses received include:
Education: St. Michael Catholic School, graduate of St. Michael-Albertville High School.
Community involvement: Served for 12 years on the St. Michael Catholic School Advisory Committee, and for the past 4 years I have served as a member of the STMA School Board (2 years as Treasurer and the last 2 years as Vice-Chairperson).
As a School Board member for the past four years, I have had the honor of advocating on behalf of our students, families, and staff. If re-elected, I will continually bring to this position an open mind and the objectivity necessary to perform the duties of a school board member. I am willing and eager to remain devoted to the time and energy that this community deserves by continuing my responsibilities as a member of this board.
My family and I are proud to be part of the STMA community and all that our fantastic schools have to offer. I believe my passion for our children, our families, our staff, education, equity and our community make me an excellent candidate for the STMA School Board.
Address: 10134 44th Court NE, St. Michael, Minnesota 55376
Education: Master of Arts, Early Childhood Education
Occupation: Licensed family child care provider/preschool teacher
Community involvement: Served on numerous committees and attended many PTO meetings; helped coordinate the “Positivity Project,” adding positive messages in STMA schools; Co-founded Project Pencils, providing school supplies for more than 1,000 students in need, thus far; and active volunteer through our church
1. What adjustments, if any, should be made to the school board’s budget?
The school board will be discussing this issue in November due to the many budget implications caused by COVID-19, so I can’t make predictions about adjustments right now. I would love to avoid any adjustments in the budget and hope that we will be able to secure additional sources of revenue, whether through the state, businesses, or donations. It will take creativity and hard work to balance the needs of students, staff, families, and our community while facing these unprecedented challenges. I will do everything I can to continue advocating for our district and a fair funding formula so that STMA is no longer ranked lowest out of 330 school districts in per pupil funding from the state.
2. What is the most important thing you feel students and parents face this school year?
The roller coaster of 2020 has thrown a whirlwind of challenges at students and parents. The most important thing students and parents face this school year is trying to do what is best for them, balancing their overall needs — cognitive, social, emotional, and physical — with everything happening in the world today. Every family has unique situations and has been forced to make decisions they never thought they would face, including those related to work, health, living situations, and whether to send their children to school in person or through distance learning. In that balancing act, my hope is that parents and students give themselves grace, kindness, and understanding through this new process and that we all show the same towards others.
Address: 3165 Kalenda Ave NE. St. Michael
Education: Graduate STMA Schools 1993. Alexandria Technical College Graduate 1995.
Occupation: Wright County Sheriff’s Office-Sergeant- 25 years
Community Involvement: Past member of the St. Michael City Council. Member of the ST.Michael-Albertville Knights of Columbus, STMA Rotary, Sons’ of the American Legion, STMA School Board-16 years.
1. What adjustments, If any, should be made to the school boards budget?
Being one of the lowest, if not the lowest funded districts in MN budgets are always tough and looked at seriously. This current 2020-21 school year the board took action on cutting $610,000 from its General Fund Budget. We needed to do this because we will again be deficit spending due to a number of reasons. We reduced the budget by 5 certified FTE’s(full time equivalents) and 6 Support/ Maint Staff FTE’s. When 80% of the overall budget is wages and benefits it becomes difficult to reduce a budget by any significant amount without personnel being affected. In addition, we reduced spending in the amount of $450,000 from the LTM (Long term Maint) budget. As you may have suspected, COVID has affected the budget as well.
We will again look at the budget and how to save money without affecting kids if possible, this next budget year.
When budgets are tight you either cut/reduce expenditures which as I’ve stated we did this current school year, or you have to find ways to increase the budget. One way to increase the budget is to ask the voters if they would support increased funding for the schools. Nearly every school district in MN does just that at some point. Those decisions are always tough ones for a board to make as it increases our local taxes if the voters approve.
2. What is the most important thing you feel the students and parents face this school year?
Without hesitation I would say the uncertainty of how this school year will continue to be affected by COVID-19. Parents and students throughout Minnesota have been affected significantly so far in terms of activities, Hybrid learning, less teacher-student contact time, and parents trying to navigate and balance their own work schedules with the students being home during the day more often than a normal school year.
The board appreciates the support of our communities! I’m looking forward to and am excited to serving another term on the STMA School Board.