Identifying problems without including solutions is just whining. I am a solution based, action-oriented person. It is not good enough to just acknowledge or identify an issue, I come to the table with solutions and ideas.
I like to solve issues and track the outcomes to make sure the solutions worked. If the solution failed, ask why? If it worked, can we apply the solution to another issue? I am a leader who asks questions! Leadership is not about telling it is about asking. Often times, learning about an issue provides a solution.
I have outlined a few of my recommended solutions (not in any particular order). Please remember they are only recommendations as there is more than one way to solve a problem.
Issues & Solutions
Replace 4 current school board members with 4 new members in the 2022 election.
The only way to realign the Robbinsdale District with success and achievement is to remove the current school board members from office. I will let you know my choices, who I will vote for and why after all candidates have filed for office. The status quo has to go, after all, the status quo created this current mess. In this election, I support myself, Aileen White and Kim Holmes and will not be using my 4th vote. What matters is voting in people who know what needs to be changed and willing to work for that change. We need to stop electing people to the school board who "rubber stamp" the status quo becuase that is what they are told to do. Ask your candidates is they have attended the school board meeting and work session during the past two years. If they have not, don't vote for them.
I pledge to work at getting new school board members elected in 2022.
All decisions made by the school board MUST be held to criteria and standards that creates and promotes equity for all students. We must also identify, document and measure those areas that hold a student at a disadvantage. We must do more than use the word equity; we need to learn what needs to be changed, then create a plan to make changes and a process to measure the change.
I pledge to work to create and promote equity across the district.
Restore community trust.
To restore trust School Board members must interact with community members with respect and some dignity. My plan to restore trust is to work with community members and employees to define issues and work toward solutions. This Board proved they cannot get kids to school via buses and worse they cannot keep resident students in the district, trust is gone and they don’t care. It seems the board works hard at ignoring the public. This board does not want to hear from the community.
I propose implementation of specific accountabilities, where resident complaints are assigned a staff member and a board member to follow up on the issues and work toward a solution. We need to revamp and restore opportunities for community input. I believe that all school board members should attend Listening Time. The 3-minute (limitation) rule is appropriate only when those who request to speak out-number school board members.
I have a proven track record of respectful engagement with elected officials and community members. I treat people with respect and dignity and I am not afraid to listen and ask. Most refreshing about me is that I am not afraid to say, “I don’t know”. I will find the answer and get back to you before I would ever tell a lie or discount the question. Yes, I also follow up.
I pledge to restore community trust through my actions and my follow-up.
Bring back resident students.
The current school board and superintendent do not care enough about the flight of 5,000 to find out what happened. District leadership tries to toss the blame on the community. In my opinion losing 5,000 from district schools is a big deal and we need to find the reason and fix the problem. The Board will tell you they are working hard and doing a swell job, but the loss of 5,000 students proves them to be failures. I will work to bring back resident students by building community trust.
We in the community know that all students are suffering from the lack of teachers, lack of class options, lack of resources for all and a general dumbing down of our district (i.e., cutting of graduation requirements). The Board and Superintendent try to make the excuse it a national issue, happening everywhere (loss of students). Yet, 5,000 of our students found something that worked for them that we are not providing. The district needs to prove to residents it is here to serve all students, not just the kids in private programs within our district.
As a parent I would pull my child from a school if they spent over half and sometimes all day in a giant study hall. That is not learning, this is not education. I pledge to make this a top issue to define why residents’ students leave and what we can do to bring them back. We need facts and the current work being conducted to up-date the strategic plan is just plain theater.
I pledge to work toward bringing home resident students through improved programming and safer schools.
District finances are in desperate shape. The loss of 5,000 students has hurt us financially. This board has deficit spent for the past 10 years and recently used covid dollars (which are gone in 2024) keeping us afloat. Losing 5,000 students may mean consolidating some schools, or terminate some long-term leased property. We need to stop hemorrhaging money and look for saving.
I have reviewed and learned about this budget for the past 2 years. I want to review buildings and grounds usage as part of each program's budget. For example, how much does it cost in rent to have Adult Basic Education in the Crystal Shopping Center? The answer to that is $1 million annually. Seems a bit steep for a program that graduated only 26 students in 2022.
I want to see justification of why administrative cost have gone up 30% while enrollment fell by 5,000. My list of questions regarding the budget is too long to post here, but I look forward to reviewing the budget line by line and column by column and asking the tough questions.
I pledge to restore the school district budget to a state of financial health.
Are students and staff safe in our buildings? What are we doing that can assure the public the buildings are secure? I pledge to ask for a building security audit or proof of why such an audit is not necessary. I want to know for sure these buildings are safe from both outsiders and those on the inside who may want to harm others. Teachers and staff are our first defense, what tools do they have or need for that role.
I pledge to work toward safer schools.
The district refuses to acknowledge out of control behaviors occurring in classrooms and buildings. The excuse is to cite privacy as an issue and therefore they cannot talk about it, providing an excuse to do nothing. A child’s skin color, ethnicity, gender, ability, must never play a role when disciplining a student who violates rules.
We need a much better way but it doesn’t mean we must stop correcting out of control behavior. It just means we need to find more useful tools to guide a child’s behavior. It starts with a student feeling safe and welcomed in the classroom and ends with making sure the educational day of all the other students is not disrupted.
Tough love doesn’t mean you hurt a child; it means to hold them accountable to their own internal greatness, to not let them give up on themselves. That is the role of adults in the life of a child. Adult have the power to build assets that help a child grow and flourish as students instead of just handing out discipline.
Some children need more help, others not so much. As the adults in the room, it is our job to fund the resources these kids need to create success. Small classrooms, more adults in the building (social workers, counselors, tutors) give kids greater resources and improves their odds in life. Also, let’s engage these kids in meaningful learning, not just study halls. We need to fix the discipline policies in our district. To do that we need updated resources and staffing plans across the district.
I pledge to work for improved student discipline protocols and increase services to students.
Staff Hiring and Retention.
The work environment in Robbinsdale district is hostile. As a candidate over the past 2 years, I have listened to quite a few horror stories about staff treatment, from bus drivers, custodians, teachers and staff. I want to know what we payout in legal bills as it relates to employee law suits? I will request that information after I am elected.
I will request the “exit interviews” for all district staff from the past 2 years. (Of course, the names or other identifiers are not included, just the facts). I would explore creating an ad hoc committee of teachers and other staff to identify issues and create recommendations/solutions to help us hire and retain excellent employees.
I pledge to work toward improved incentives for hiring and retention.
Fix it, that is my goal. New bus company? Bring it back in house? Assessments and then decision but if we cannot get kids to school, it means we have failed kids before they walk through the door.
I pledge to fix student transportation issues.
A focus on green.
Operationally the district functions like it did in the last century, everything is waste. It is time the environment is included in the curriculum as well as a guide in district operations. I am experienced at assessing an organizations current green situation and developing programs to create green changes.
In my career I worked on many major corporate green projects and while mayor of Crystal, solar was one of my initiatives. $1 million dollars of solar was installed on City Hall, the Community Center and the Aquatic Center at a taxpayer cost of less than $70,000.
I bring to the district resources to help us adopt solar as a main power source for our buildings and do it sooner rather than later. If we are not including environmental sciences as part of our operations and curriculum, we are leaving our students in the past.
I pledge to work toward implementing “green” in operations and curriculum.
Student Achievement & Excellence for All. My commitment is for all students to experience excellence and achievement while attending schools and programs of the Robbinsdale School District.
I pledge to work for student achievement and excellence for all.