Meet the School Board Candidates
Four seats on the St. Francis Area Schools School Board need to be filled. Voters will vote for four candidates at large in the November 3, 2020 General Election. The term length is four (4) years and begins with the first school board meeting in January 2021.
St. Francis Area Schools is providing information on school board candidates so voters can be informed. The school district does not endorse or will not promote any candidate.
Seven candidates are vying for the open seats. Candidates were invited to submit their information, including a photo and/or video, to be posted to this page.
Candidates were asked to respond to the following:
- Write about your background and family, including how long you have lived in the St. Francis Area Schools district.
- Describe your involvement with St. Francis Area Schools.
- What do you believe qualifies you to be a school board member?
- What do you see as the school board's roles and responsibilities
- What is your vision for St. Francis Area Schools and how does that relate to the district's mission statement?
- What goals do you hope to accomplish if elected to the school board?
For more voting information, visit the Minnesota Secretary of State, Elections & Voting web page.
Listed below are the candidates (in alphabetical order):
2162 - 175th Lane NW, Andover MN 55304
- I grew up in Wisconsin and moved to the great state of Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota, where I graduated with honors in civil engineering and met my husband of 12.5 years. After college I worked in system design, end-user training, technical sales and customer support until our children were born, at which time I became a stay-at-home mom. We have lived in the St. Francis Area Schools school district for 11.5 years and our children will soon turn 5 years old (twins).
- My children and I have attended Early Childhood Family Education classes here in the district and in Anoka Hennepin, which we always enjoyed. I am actively listening to past school board meetings and recently attended my first PTO meeting; my children will start kindergarten at Cedar Creek Elementary School next school year.
- My sales experience provided me with excellent collaborative and communication skills. I enjoyed interacting with and building rapport with my customers. As an end-user trainer, I studied complex systems and then created a curriculum to teach others to use said systems. This ability to learn new material and then disseminate it to others so they can understand will be a great benefit for diving into district operations. My work in system design had me involved from start to finish on many job sites. I saw first-hand how having a strong project manager on the job ensured everyone involved was always communicating and issues causing changes or delay were addressed immediately, not last minute.
- The school board is in service, answers and is responsible to our district’s students, parents, and the community. We are responsible for communicating school district information to them in a timely and truthful manner. We must also advocate for all children in the district, and their safety and well-being should be our number one priority, no matter how or where their parents choose to educate them.
- My vision is focused on the students. That students are equipped with excellent problem-solving skills; the ability to adapt, overcome and learn from whatever challenges life throws at them. That they have a love of self, others and country. That they and their stories be celebrated. And let us lead by example so that our students are courteous, warm and welcoming, productive members of society.
- One of my top priorities will be to do a deep dive into district budget, curriculum, and current policies so I am not only up to date on the current state of the school district, but also able to disseminate this information to others. I also plan to listen to students, their parents, the community, teachers and district employees. I want to hear any concerns from all sides and find a collaborative approach to solutions, not just tackle an issue from one side’s point-of-view.
I want to promote the trades and technical courses as well as find a working method to incorporate more Post-Secondary Enrollment Options in our high school. I feel strongly that it is our school district's duty to provide all students, especially those who otherwise could not afford it, the opportunity to gain higher education credits and/or trade skills while still in high school.
I want to make the St. Francis Area Schools school district the envy of those who wish for excellence and choice in education.
20012 Poppy St NW Oak Grove, MN
Occupation: Retired leader of 40 years from Honeywell International - Aerospace
1. I have been married to my husband for 39 years. We have 4 successful adult children who attended K-12 in St. Francis Area Schools. Our focus with our kids as they were growing up was to teach them responsibility, respect for others, accountability for their actions, and to strive to accomplish much “To whom much is given, much will be required” Luke 12:48. We now have 8 grand babies, some of which are in our school district. We moved to our 11-acre hobby farm in Oak Grove 35 years ago so we could intentionally raise our children in a rural environment. This gave us the opportunity to expose our kids to raising and taking care of livestock and many pets over the years including horses, chickens, racing homing pigeons and their own dogs. Our family loves the outdoors and all our children hunt and fish.
Our family attends Constance Evangelical Free church. I have always been very involved at my church. Programs which I have led in include the AWANA youth programs, Stephens Ministry, Bible Study Leadership and ushering/greeting on Sundays.
Education: Electronic Technician Certificate NEI
Bachelors degree: Organizational Management and Communications Concordia University, St Paul
2. When my 4 children were in school I spent most of my vacation days was involved helping their teachers in the classroom in what ever capacity they needed me. In elementary school I would help children with their reading or math skills. I would help their teachers on days they needed more hands in their classrooms for art projects or class celebrations. I chaperoned on day trips and each of my children’s 3 day/overnight trips to Camp St. Croix where we helped teach teams of children winter sports, survival skills, nature’s food chain and fun cabin games in the evening. This helped me stay tightly linked to their teachers and the curriculum throughout their school years and kept me in touch with what my children needed to improve upon. their. I also traveled with and supported the St. Francis Marching Band in the summers. The marching band parades took place on weekends throughout the summer. As a chaperone my responsibilities included: ensuring the band students practiced before parades, helping them take care of their band uniforms and instruments before and after stepping out for each parade, keeping them well hydrated while they were marching in the parades and overnight chaperoning as we slept in our sleeping bags on the gym floors of the visiting area schools. Those were fun days! These activities had a direct and immediate benefit to the teachers, my children and their classmates.
3. I am the mother of 4 successful adult children who attended K-12 in St. Francis Area Schools. I participated in all their educations by staying tightly linked to their teachers throughout their school years. I am passionate about giving students and teachers the best environment to succeed in.
During my 40 year career at Honeywell I managed multi-million dollar businesses/operations. My responsibilities included production schedules, budgeting, workforce hiring/managing, training materials/websites, process improvements, quality, calibration and maintenance of production and test equipment and customer relations. As a certified Lean Expert I also had the opportunity to teach, coach and mentor employees and leaders across the U.S. and abroad the valuable tools used to improve effectiveness of any process.
St. Francis Area Schools employees are currently represented by numerous different unions. I started at Honeywell as a union employee, held a union committee position to improve employee/management relation and then moved into management. My main drive as a leader was to create a better culture for employees as they strived to meet customer expectations. The years I spent as a Labor Relations Manager I was responsible for grievance handling, negotiating agreements and contracts for 5 metro-area sites. All of my professional experience is transferable to the roles and responsibilities as a school board member.
My interpersonal skills include mediation, collaborative problem solving, critical thinking, change management and continuous improvement. The most effective solutions are not complicated and come from those who are closest to the issue. Student development is my main concern and the area I feel we as the community need to support. I believe in challenging the status quo in order to create a positive and empowering school district to learn, work and grow in.
4. Learning curriculum - To ensure the curriculum at each grade level challenges our students and gives them the opportunity to go beyond the average accomplishments of their age and prepare them for the next grade. By the time our students graduate they should have a head start on becoming successful adults in the community they will reside in.
Accountability - To ensure accountability to roles and responsibilities amongst St. Francis Area Schools staff and students.
School Policies - To ensure school policies are appropriate for the age of the student to accomplish responsibility and accountability.
Budget - To ensure fiscal responsibility and adherence to budget constraints.
Committees - Oversight and support of all committees.
5. My vision for our district is to graduate students who are equipped to step into society as responsible and accountable adults who have life skills and job skills they can apply immediately to a job. Students who understand financial responsibility and skills. Students who have appreciation for their fellow human beings
This means we need to have goals which our students need to accomplish before leaving grade school, middle school and high school.
My vision is in alignment with the current St. Francis Area Schools vision statement. It is the actionable goals which bring a vision to reality.
6. If elected the first actions I would take is to assess the current state of the district to understand the learning curriculum, budget allocations, and policies. Then I would look at staff goals and seek alignment to the goals of the district vision. I would ask the following: How can we perform better? How can we communicate better? What barriers are in the way of better serving the students? How are we continuously challenging our staff and students to do better?
3350 - 181st Avenue NW, Andover MN
- I am a 56-year-old mother of four beautiful children and a grandmother (mimi) to 6 amazing grandchildren. My children all graduated from St. Francis High School and my grandchildren are open enrolling in St. Francis Area Schools. I graduated from St. Anthony Village High School and attended Minneapolis Technical Institute receiving my cosmetology license. I am the assisant manager at Andover Station Great Clips. I have served on the St, Francis Area School board since Jan. of 2004 and have lived in my home for 35 years.
- I sit on the School Board’s finance and policy committee reviewing policy before being placed on the agenda for approval of the full board. I represent the board at Schools for Equity in Education which communicates with our state reps. and senators on policy and legislation that will benefit the students and taxpayers of St. Francis Area Schools. I also sit on the 916 School Board.
- I consider it an honor to serve on the St. Francis Area Schools School Board. I will continue to listen to the concerns of staff, parents and community members. It is important to keep an open mind before a vote. A school board member should listen to the debate and discussion, to participate with respectful dialogue and then support the decision of the board. I have and will continue to do this.
- The school board's most important role is to hire the superintendent of schools to manage and run the school district. The school board sets the vision for the school district, reviews and approves policy, approves spending, and approves budgets.
- My vision for the school district is to continue to provide a quality education that prepares our students for life after graduation which aligns with our mission statement.
- My goals will always revolve around our students. I believe education is the foundation and strength of our community and every dollar spent educating children is an important investment in not only their future but our future as a community. I will continue to make decisions that benefit our students' education while approving balanced budgets.
3315 199th Avenue NW
Anoka, MN 55303
Occupation: Quality/Continuous Improvement Engineering Manager
1. I am a mother of 3 and raising my children alongside my husband in Oak Grove. We have lived in St. Francis ISD 15 for 5 ½ years. I am from a small town (Grand Rapids, MN) and appreciate the small-town feel. I graduated from the University of North Dakota with my Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. I have been working in the engineering industry ever since. I have held leadership roles managing teams domestically and internationally. I currently work as a Quality and Continuous Improvement Engineering Manager.
2. I have attended zoom school board meetings to hear and understand the topics that are discussed. Also, to hear other parental concerns during the meetings. I observe school board member comments and opinions to get an understanding of the current leadership and environment. Also, having young children growing up in this community and interfacing with friends and families, I consider the school environment very influential to my children and our youth.
3. This answer is two-fold for me.
First, I am a good listener and knowledge gatherer. I think it would be valuable to leverage my professional leadership, supply chain management experience, and continuous improvement mindset on the school board. I am a self-starter with good interpersonal skills and I enjoy working with people and on a team. I try to motivate others and have a personality fueled by genuine curiosity. I always enjoy learning more. I plan to lean on the voice of parents, students, teachers, and other board members to ensure we are considering the most important topics/issues are addressed with solutions as quickly as they arise.
Second, I honestly care a great deal about children and this community. I keep my commitments. I am passionate about the education and impact it has on our youth and also, the influence other children and families have on my own. I would like strong leaders to help make responsible decisions that still uphold and support the freedom of choice (options) especially when it comes to the CV situation. This CV situation puts stress on so many people in different ways. I know the school board has been doing the best they can at this point. However, I feel more and more difficult decisions will continue to come up and I would like to see new ideas generated by new members of the school board.
4. I see the school board as the collaborative representatives (voice of the community) for keeping the school district strong. They are the drivers of the positive partnership between teachers, students, and families. The school board is a group of leaders in the district that can write policy, drive curriculum selection, responsible resource allocations, and provide overall direction in our education system for our district.
5. I am wondering what new programs and action items support the Mission Statement directly. My takeaway from the Mission Statement is for skills and knowledge in an ever-changing world. My vision for the school board focuses on life skills. More specifically, teaching and developing problem solving methodology, the ‘how to’ in navigating systems (financial, accountability, etc.) for life. Redundancy and inspiring messages that connect with kids to help them grasp these life skill concepts and how they integrate into adult decision making. We are fortunate to accept life as a learning process, but kids need to be taught check book balancing, critical thinking, self-awareness, and loan commitments/consequences, etc.
6. In order to get a comprehensive picture, I believe the team would need a budget/resource review, a review of current curriculum/programs, committee objectives, and review current policies. I have a deep appreciation of America, what this country has to offer and why this country is special. I would like to review the Civics curriculum (U.S. Constitution, common law, sovereignty lessons) and ensure there is a strong explanation on unbiased facts around the founding principles of freedom and liberty. Are these concepts connecting with kids? Are we finding ways to help kids connect with the important stories, pivotal figures and moments of history?
Another issue I would like to learn more about and then facilitate improvements toward is the bullying policies in the school. I have read information on this but I have heard mixed reviews from parents while door knocking during this campaign. I would be horrified if I found my child was being mistreated and I feel this topic is a must for improvements due to this reason. A safe and secure school and bus environment is required.
360 Swan Lake Lane NW, Oak Grove, MN 55011
- First of all, thank you for taking the time to learn more about me and my determination to be re-elected for school board. In sharing my views and values, hopefully I can gain your support as you research all of the candidates and see who you believe is the best fit.
I was born and raised in Finlayson, Minnesota by two awesome parents. They instilled in me a solid work ethic and lead-by-example role models who take pride in volunteering in the community. I grew up observing my parents participating on many different committees and boards within our community (Lions Club, School Board, Church, First Responder...). I graduated from Hinckley-Finlayson High School in 1993 and continued my education at Hibbing Community College. Then I attended the University of Minnesota. While attending Hibbing and the U of M, I played basketball. This taught me the meaning of hard work, determination, cooperation, and working towards a team goal.
I met my wonderful wife, Andrea, at the U of M; we have been married for 20 years. We have been blessed with four beautiful children: Caleb (15), Emily (12), Haley (9) and Sophie (9). I own a sign company, that I started in 2001 out of our basement (which has now moved next to the kitchen). I also do some handyman work when I'm not making signs (or chasing kids around). We bought land in the district 17 years ago. With the help of talented friends, family and eighteen months of hard work, we built our dream house that we call home. We love living in this community! The people are so warm and friendly. Our family is very active in local events that support the district and community.
- Being a parent of four children (ranging from 3rd to 9th grade) has allowed me to spend a lot of time in the schools, at sporting events and in the community. I have enjoyed coaching my kids’ basketball teams for the past 10 years. Through this volunteering I have stepped up to be the president of the St. Francis Basketball Association. We have a family commitment to the district and community involvement. You’ll find my wife Andrea volunteering as president of the PTO at Cedar Creek. Our family is often helping with school PTO events. I love attending all the different events that happen including theater, band/choir concerts, sports, art shows, debate, AIEPAC events and so much more. There are so many great things that happen around the district, by attending those events it lets me meet new people and learn new things that I can bring back to the school board.
I'm also on a number of negotiation groups and committees like Early Childhood Family Education Advisory council, Joint Standing Committee, Level III Grievances, Minnesota State High School League, and assigned to the Cedar Creek Elementary School.
- One of the many things I've learned over in my first term on the school board is that there is not one person qualified enough to be on the board. There are so many different moving parts and to expect one person to know everything is just not possible. That's why there are 7 people on the board, everyone brings their own values, beliefs and experiences with them to try to come to the best solution for all involved.
A couple things that I bring to the table are that I have learned to listen to the client as a small business owner for the past 19 years, make sound decisions based on the information gathered, manage budgets, and prioritize conflicting objectives. Also, being a proud parent of four wonderful kids who are in Elementary, Middle and High School, it gives me the perspective of what's going on at multiple buildings.
- The role of a school board member is to be part of a collaborative team that makes decisions in the best interest of our district, students, teachers and community. To make the school board effective you need to have open and honest communication between everyone involved. I welcome anyone to contact me anytime with questions or concerns they may have: Call or text 763-232-7902 or look me up on Facebook.
- My vision is to continue to build district and community pride. I would like to encourage the support and participation of parents, teachers and community members so all children can succeed to their highest potential. By engaging and improving commitment of the entire community we can all take part in raising young children who will turn into productive citizens. A community can only flourish when everyone comes together and realizes that the students are our future.
- There is so much uncertainty going on right now around the world, in Minnesota and our community. One thing I want to accomplish is to maintain stability for our schools, the students and community. I don't want to coddle our students but I also think it's challenging for them to have a sense of uncertainty. I've been in contact with different politicians to try and figure out ways to get more local control for the schools. We are elected officials, just like those at the capitol, but we have a better idea of our community needs rather than someone in St. Paul.
Secondly, I want to see the bond project through to the finish line. The community graciously passed the bond, and once the schools open back up for visitors, I hope everyone can go in and check out all the amazing work that was done.
Lastly, I want to continue to be a voice for the community. When I'm out and about I love chatting with people to hear what issues or concerns they may have as well as the amazing bragging about the district that takes place, I can use my experiences and these conversations in my decision-making process.
I think I have done a great job representing the community, the last 4 years I would be honored to be able to continue that for the next 4 years. Thank you!
3215 - 217th Avenue NW, Oak Grove MN 55303
Retired after 25 years of military service and small business owner of Blue Star Kettle Corn
- Our family, the Starrs ( eight brothers and sisters, our kids and now grandchildren) have been attending classes in the St. Francis Area Schools since 1968 to present time. I have lived in the school district for 27 years. My wife Susan has been a sub teacher in the school district for 23 years. I have been a sub teacher for 10 years.
- I was on the former Site Management Council for St. Francis Middle School for two years. I then ran for the first time for the school board in 2000 and served for 4 years. Because my job at the time took me out of state so often, I was not able to run for another term. I ran for another school board term and was elected in 2016. 2020 will be my last campaign for school board.
- Understanding the complexity to run a school district.
To make the hard right decisions.
To state your concerns on issues and then to support the final decision of the school board.
To always support the best interest of the students and staff.
And to always be an advocate for public education.
- To always keep what's best for students and staff as your number one priority.
To use the limited school funding we receive each year to support our students, staff and school buildings.
To question the school district superintendent recommendations and then support the final decisions.
To attend as many Minnesota School Board Association training seminars you can to gain an understanding on what it takes to be a successful school board member and to have a successful school district.
To make yourself available to the school district taxpayers when they have questions or concerns.
- To provide ALL of our students the opportunity to gain an education and experience to help them to be successful after they graduate from high school.
- To make our school district a school district students and parents want to attend because of our school buildings, educational programs before, during and after school hours and because of our teachers, staff and coaches.
To provide the tools and equipment necessary to give ALL of our students the opportunity to be successful after high school graduation.
To always be an advocate for public education. And to always respect those who decide not to use public education for their children.
20160 Quapaw Street NW, Oak Grove MN 55303
Occupation: Business Development, Finance and Marketing
- I am married (Kelly) and have two children (Conor and Megan). I have a B.S. degree in business administration. I am fiscally conservative, a good steward of taxpayer dollars and have strong family values. I have been involved in the community in various capacities throughout my life, including a 4-year term on the Oak Grove City Council. Our family is a member of St Patrick’s Church. My son and daughter both participated in sports, activities and band at St. Francis High School. My wife was involved in APT and various booster clubs while our children were in school and participating in sports. Both of our kids, earned college credits while in high school, graduated and are currently attending college, seeking professions as a mechanical engineer and a police officer. I have been an Anoka County resident since 1976 and grew up here. Our family has lived in the school district since 1997 and it’s where we bought our first house. I am firmly committed to ensuring our School District continues to provide a quality education for our future student leaders like they provided for my children, and hopefully grandchildren.
- I have served on the school board for the last 4 years. For the past two years I have served as Vice Chair. I have proudly served on the Community Education Advisory Council, Bond Oversight Committee, Assessment and Curriculum and Teaching Committee, Activities Advisory Council and the District contract negotiation teams. I have worked at concessions stands for athletic events, coached youth athletics, volunteered at school carnivals, and attended and financially supported Foundation 15 (student scholarships). Throughout the years, I have enjoyed being involved in the community/district and will continue volunteering my time. It’s always fun to come watch our Saints compete in sports or activities and attend performances. We need to find a way to make this happen during this pandemic.
- My education and experience help qualify me to be a school board member. I have lived in this district a long time and have seen it change over the years. I have served the past 4 years on the board and have learned a lot about how the district operates, how it is funded, and what is needed to maximize every tax dollar. I have had to make tough budget cuts to keep our district solvent financially, ensuring there are reserves. There is a big learning curve for new members and during this Covid-19 pandemic it is important we have a board operating effectively to address this situation head on. It is imperative for the board to understand the financial needs of the district and weigh them against the community’s ability to provide additional financial support.
With time, you better understand the community and what is important. People value the education of their children and for each family school choice can be different. Most residents in the district opt to send their kids to public school either at St Francis or neighboring districts; we even have a significant number of students that open enroll into St Francis Area Schools. However, I understand many send their kids to private school, or home school and that is okay, too. At the end of the day, we need to ensure all schools are providing students the education and tools they need to succeed in life.
Experience matters and so do past actions as a board member. I will continue to listen and learn. I am proud of my service on the board and to the community, will stand by my record and would be honored to serve another four years.
- The job of a board member for St Francis Area Schools is to ensure THIS district is the best district it can be, and to ensure every taxpayer dollar is spent wisely, and honestly, so we can continue to earn the trust of all residents, not just the ones sending students or work in our schools. As a board member I have had to vote to “right size” the district and make cuts that resulted in layoffs, budget cuts and a reduction of services. Those votes are hard, but ultimately the buck stops at the school board as we are the ones to balance the budget.
The school board, along with the superintendent, steer the district and keep it in line with the mission. Our current board inherited a situation with a mismanaged budget, minimal transparency, aging schools and infrastructure and declining enrollment. During my tenure on the board we have hired a new superintendent, finance director and athletic director to provide steady leadership. Over the past 4 years we have stabilized the finances of the district, invested in our schools and stabilized enrollment. Prior to COVID-19, enrollment had increased to our school district on a year-over-year basis.
The board is responsible for providing a safe, efficient, learning environment for its students. The $80M bond passed over 3 years ago addressed school safety issues, provided modern updates to classrooms and learning spaces, added additional classrooms and fixed infrastructure in all buildings. Construction is wrapping up on this project and it was done without raising taxes due to other debt being retired when the bond was implemented. We should be proud at the investment made in this district and the fact that we did it without raising taxes.
- St. Francis Area Schools should be a model of excellence for public education. This doesn’t happen overnight but it is a great goal to strive for. We have improved facilities (80M bond), invested in technology (through CARES Act funds, budgeting and grants) and are providing educational opportunities for our educators and staff to ensure they are best prepared to teach and lead in the classroom. Our mission is to equip all students with the knowledge and skills to empower them to achieve their dreams and full potential while becoming responsible citizens in a dynamic world. In order to fulfill our mission, we need parents, teachers, staff and administration all on the same page working together. This mission statement is on school walls, in classrooms and is a constant reminder of what we are striving for. A strong, well-respected school is the part of the foundation for a great community. Home values are impacted by the school district you live in. A better school district means a higher home value, which is one of the biggest investments families make. However, we cannot forget the biggest investment of all — education of our future leaders and workforce. Someday they will be the ones making decisions/policy and providing the goods and services for all of us.
- My goals as a school board member:
- Maintain financial stability
- Continue to earn trust with taxpayers through fiscal responsibility and transparency
- Maintain or increase enrollment
- Update math and science curriculum
- Improve educational outcomes for students
- Get our students safely back in the classroom, on the field, on stage or in classrooms for competition and activities
- And most importantly… “Equipping all students with the knowledge and skills to empower them to achieve their dreams and full potential while becoming responsible citizens in a dynamic world.”
Meet the School Board Candidate Forum
The St. Francis Area Schools Community Education Advisory Council facilitated a Meet the School Board Candidate Facebook Live event on October 13 to learn more about the candidates running for school board.
The public was asked to submit questions for the candidates to answer. Due to time constraints, the moderator may not be able to ask all the questions submitted. Similar questions were combined wherever possible. If your question was not asked during the event, please feel free to contact the candidate directly. Detailed candidate profiles and contact information may be found above.
This event is presented by the St. Francis Area Schools Community Education Advisory Council. The Advisory Council and/or St. Francis School Area Schools does not endorse or promote any candidate. This is an informational event.