Eden Prairie School District voters have five candidates to choose from for one seat in a special election this fall.

Due to former Boardmember Veronica Stoltz’s resignation, the Eden Prairie School Board called the special election to fill out the remainder of the term.

The board appointed Karla Bratrud, a former board member, to temporarily fill Stoltz’s position until the results of the special election can be canvassed, at which point the winner of the special election will be sworn in.

The Eden Prairie School Board has expressed an intention to appoint the runner-up of the special election to fill another upcoming vacancy due to the planned resignation of Boardmember Beth Fletcher. However, each voter can only select one candidate on the special election ballot.

Polling locations will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 2, but eligible voters in the ward can cast ballots early by voting absentee through the mail or in person at the Administrative Services Center, 8100 School Road, Eden Prairie. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 1.

For information on where to vote on Election Day and how to register, visit sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting.

Information about voting that is specific to the special election is available at edenpr.org/community/election.

Despite repeated requests, Michelle Mattison did not respond to a questionnaire for the voters guide. The responses from the other four candidates follow.

Eden Prairie School Board voters guide-SteveBartz

Steve Bartz

Steve Bartz

Education:Bachelor of Science in nursing from Minot State University; Master of Science in nurse anesthesia from Minneapolis School of Anesthesia

Occupation: Certified registered nurse anesthetist

Qualifications: I have 25 years of health care experience serving others. My practice in critical care and anesthesia requires trust-building, nimble thinking and collaboration on teams to achieve optimal results. I have lived in Eden Prairie since 2004, having served in our community, schools and church in numerous ways.

Contact info: www.stevebartz4ep.com

Why are you running for the Eden Prairie School Board?

My family has had many positive experiences in Eden Prairie Schools, and I want the same for each student in the district. As a 17-year resident of Eden Prairie, I appreciate that our community values and expects great schools. I am running for the Eden Prairie School Board because I care about the success of our students, yours and mine. We must continue our pursuit of academic excellence by focusing first on our students and leveraging our resources well so every student has opportunities to learn, grow and be prepared for their best future. I also want to bring a perspective of mutual respect for all opinions and an open mind to the school board.

If elected, what specific projects or initiatives do you hope to accomplish during your term?

My initiative is to put students first. My job as a school board member is to be an accessible advocate for the students and parents in the district with regard to education. Each student should feel welcome and safe in Eden Prairie schools so that their education can be their focus. I have a special interest in hearing the “stories” of the people in our community and learning how we can better serve and meet the educational needs of our students and families. Furthermore, as a school board member I am a steward of taxpayer dollars. I will fiscally monitor our budget so as to ensure our students get the best education possible.

Should the Eden Prairie School Board seek to express support for diversity in the district? If so, how should the board do so? If not, why not?

Yes. I believe Eden Prairie has been a strong advocate for our diverse student body. Every student in our schools deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. The board can continue supporting our diverse community by engaging in meaningful conversations and taking guidance from students and families to better understand how every student can thrive and feel a sense of belonging in our schools.

Eden Prairie School Board voters guide-AlbertBorn

Albert Born

Albert Born

Education: Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering and mechanics, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Occupation: Salesman at Guitar Center, recording and sound engineer, consultant, teacher, musician

Qualifications: My family has lived in Eden Prairie for over four years. We have three children in Eden Prairie Schools. Working with the public, teaching, consulting and engineering have given me the great ability to communicate and think clearly on many levels. I can stay focused when things get difficult.

Contact info: www.albertborn.com

Why are you running for the Eden Prairie School Board?

I am a dad with three kids in the Eden Prairie school system. I understand how the school board works. I like to be involved and be a positive force. I see the importance and impact the school board has on the school system. I will help shape and improve the educational development of our greatest Eden Prairie asset – the children.

If elected, what specific projects or initiatives do you hope to accomplish during your term?

1. Make decisions based on common sense and facts. Not political bias or the popular trend.

2. Listen to parents, teachers and students. Be approachable.

3. Challenge all students. Give all students a chance to be challenged in areas that they excel.

4. Better nutrition and fitness at our schools. Provide healthier options and minimize waste at school breakfast and lunch.

5. Teacher/staff retention. We want Eden Prairie Schools to be the dream job. This is the place to be. We want the best for our children.

6. Funding to keep class sizes smaller.

7. Everyone deserves equal treatment.

8. Placing kids in the correct environment to learn. Good regular communication between teachers and parents. Also, providing resources and education for parents who aren’t sure what to do if their child is having trouble.

9. School sports, music, clubs and other team-building activities are important for children as they learn to connect with the outside world as an adult. We need to keep those programs strong.

10. Behavioral expectations for all students. Parents and students need to agree and understand what is expected in a safe learning environment. They also need to understand the consequences of not following the expectations.

11. Empowering teachers. Safe discipline to keep children on the correct path while maintaining the integrity of the classroom.

12. Keeping parents involved. Know what your child is doing and be notified of any changes in behavior.

Should the Eden Prairie School Board seek to express support for diversity in the district? If so, how should the board do so? If not, why not?

Diversity. So many people talk about diversity as if it is this new pioneering concept and you’re a smart and accepting individual if you talk about it. Actions speak louder than words. We are all diverse individuals. If we were all the same, that would be pretty boring. I truly enjoy learning and speaking with everyone I meet. We can all learn a lot from each other if we would just put aside any bias and listen and communicate better with each other. As a school board member I will do just that – listen, act and communicate.

Eden Prairie School Board voters guide-FrancescaPagan-Umar

Francesca Pagan-Umar

Francesca Pagan-Umar

Education: B.A., psychology; M.S., education and special education

Occupation: General and special education teacher

Qualifications: I’m an experienced educator and parent with a passion for education. As an educator, I know what it takes to ensure every student has opportunities to thrive. And as a classroom teacher, I know the kind of support our teachers need to be the very best educators they can be.

Contact info: www.Francesca4EP.com

Why are you running for the Eden Prairie School Board?

I began teaching in 1998, in one of the toughest districts in the country: NYC public schools. I’ve taught students in general and special education; and been a classroom teacher, literacy teacher, science teacher, and an early childhood educator. I want to bring my education and experience to benefit our students, staff and community.

If elected, what specific projects or initiatives do you hope to accomplish during your term?

Ensuring every student thrives: This means implementing best practices that have been found to be effective in districts like ours. And supporting our teachers’ workplace needs, so they can be the best educators they can be.

Bringing everyone to the table: This means including the voices of our vibrant and diverse community in decision-making and problem-solving.

Commitment to service: This means being a board member who is committed to serving the needs of our students, teachers and community members. After the past 18 months, our kids deserve a safe school year, with a board that puts their learning needs first. Serving the people of Eden Prairie includes supporting the needs of our teachers because they’re educating the next generation of doers.

Should the Eden Prairie School Board seek to express support for diversity in the district? If so, how should the board do so? If not, why not?

Diversity is our superpower. When people from different backgrounds come together, and share their unique perspectives, we benefit from diversity of thought. This improves decision-making by ensuring the needs of the whole community are included. And it benefits problem-solving by allowing suggestions and solutions that may not have been thought of before. Our student body is 47.2% non-White. It makes sense for our school board to have highly qualified residents, who also reflect the diversity of our students.

Eden Prairie School Board voters guide-DarrylStanton

Darryl Stanton

Darryl Stanton

Education: Honors graduate, B.A., double major in business administration and management, sociology; graduate courses completed at Hamline University and Metropolitan State University in the areas of public policy and business

Occupation: Small business owner, with higher education work experience in the areas of enrollment management, retention and equity and inclusion. Served as SMSU multicultural coordinator, director of multicultural admission at Hamline University and director of recruitment for Hamline University Graduate School of Public Administration & Management.

Qualifications: Professionally, I have developed and implemented successful initiatives and programs for students at college and the 6-12 grade levels.

Currently serving on Eden Prairie Schools World’s Best Workforce Committee; served on Eden Prairie Schools Strategic Planning Committee & Curriculum Advisory Committee. As a parent volunteer, read to Eden Prairie students during lunchtime for six consecutive years and helped teachers with special projects. I received the city of Eden Prairie Human Rights Award.

Contact info: Did not respond

Why are you running for Eden Prairie School Board?

My wife and I have lived in Eden Prairie for 26 years. We have a son that attends Eden Prairie High School. I love and care about our community and schools. I truly believe we, the citizens of Eden Prairie, have more that unites us than divides us. During this pandemic, we need to find even more ways to work together to address the needs of our students. I want to bring my experience of working collaboratively to develop initiatives and programs to the Eden Prairie School Board.

If elected, what specific projects or Initiatives do you hope to accomplish during your term?

I currently serve on the 2021-22 World’s Best Workforce Committee. I want to help achieve the goals of the committee :

1) All students are ready to learn.

2) All third graders read at grade level.

3) All racial and economic achievement gaps between students are closed.

4) All students are ready for careers and college.

5) All students graduate from high school.

I want to help develop a catch-up plan for students in the achievement gap, our special needs students and other students that have fallen behind academically during the pandemic. I believe a catch-up plan that includes high dosage tutoring during students’ school day, is one the most effective methods to help our students.

Should the Eden Prairie School Board Seek to express support for diversity in the district? If so, how should the board do so? If not, why not?

Yes, the fact is the city of Eden Prairie has a manifesto on diversity. It clearly articulates:

That we, as representatives of Eden Prairie businesses, city government, educational and religious institutions, accept special roles and responsibilities in fostering diversity in our community.... Representing all sectors of Eden Prairie, we publicly declare our intentions:

• To continue the development of a multicultural community which will not tolerate acts of harassment and intolerance.

• To establish, communicate and encourage community standards that respect diversity.

• To promote acceptance and respect for individuals in an atmosphere of caring for others.

I believe this document could be used as a starting point for the school board to bring us together in collaborative effort to craft a resolution document on diversity.

A PSA for all Eden Prairie High School seniors if you want money for college: Please go to FAFSA.gov and complete your free application for federal student aid. Information from this form helps determine federal and state aid and money from colleges and universities.

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