Q: What is your educational and occupational background?
A: I have a B.S. in civil engineering, and one-year post-graduate class work on project management, and groundwater mechanics.
I worked for more than 19 years with the US Army Corps of Engineers as a civil engineer, project manager, and senior administrator. I led multi-disciplinary team through the plan, design, and construction of complex flood damage reduction projects ranging to more than $350 million. I excelled in budget and schedule development, resource allocation, exceeding legislative requirements, partnering with stakeholders, and developing measurable goals.
I worked on a Mississippi Valley Regional team that identified best practices among six districts, and standardized budgeting, workflow and reporting. This allowed regional workload leveling; accrued cost savings from eliminating duplicitous processes, and built a "lesson-learned" practice that was adopted nationally.
I served for 10-years on the Skyway YMCA board, and was recognized as their 2007 Volunteer of the Year.
For more than five years, I have been a stay-at-home parent of two children now both in District 200 schools. During my time as a stay-at-home parent, I served on the ECFE Advisory Council; participated in MOMS Club (president secretary, and newsletter editor), and volunteered at Carpenter Nature Center (special events, outdoor education, and displays)
Q: Why are you running for School Board? (Is there a specific issue that brought you into the race?)
A: I want to be on the District 200 School Board to increase the transparency of decision-making, and create more opportunities for the community - parents, businesses, teachers, partners, and stakeholders - to participate in the decision-making of the district. I am an advocate for a strong public involvement process in district initiatives, including the levy and bonding process. I will work with administrators, board members, partners and stakeholders on developing a district-wide strategic plan with associated goals (facility management and programmatic issues, student achievement, staff development ...).
I am also interested in integrating a continuous improvement model throughout the district. Specifically, I would like the district to be working more aggressively on drug and alcohol abuse in the middle and high schools, and on resolving the disparate test results between the district's three elementary schools.
Q: What makes you uniquely qualified to join the board? (What specifically do you bring to the mix and how will it enhance the abilities of the board to manage the district?) (Why now?)
A: Others have recognized me as excelling in team development, strategic planning, public involvement, long and short-term budget development, and facility management. I am very skilled at problem identification, resolution, and fact-based decision-making.
I have a decade of experience in board participation. I understand the responsibility of a board to provide clear, goal and mission oriented governance, and to refrain from micromanagement.
Additionally, I have the perspective of a stay-at-home parent whose children are just entering the district. My skills, knowledge and abilities are unique in this contest and align well the district's challenges.
Q: The School Board has asked voters twice, unsuccessfully, to allow them to borrow money to do repairs on the district buildings. Where do you stand on this issue - a loan for repairs - for roofs, windows and the first phase of mechanical upgrades in some of the schools (questions 1 and 2 on the referendum)?
A: Our District has notable deferred maintenance needs, as recognized by the State of Minnesota. Allowing the buildings currently owned and used by the district to fall into further disrepair would be irresponsible. The longer these repairs are deferred, the more extensive and costly the required repairs will be. Therefore, I am a proponent of bonding for the deferred maintenance repairs required on the district buildings.
Q: What are your thoughts about question 3, the addition to the middle school to accommodate fifth grade, and a renovation of McAuliffe and JFK to accommodate kindergarten classes? The question also includes the modification of Tilden to potentially consolidate programs now in leased facilities into a modified Tilden facility.
A: I accept that Tilden is not a facility that the district can responsibly use for classroom space much longer. The building is too small to accommodate the growing demand for all-day, every-day kindergarten and its small physical site precludes substantial remodeling and even necessary maintenance expenditures. The availability of the zero or low interest bonds is an opportunity that should not be missed. It is a fiscally responsible way to resolve District 200's challenges with Tilden's limited usability.
Therefore, I support the bond question 3 that will move the district past this difficult facility management challenge. Successful implementation of question 3, should it pass, will need to have strong public involvement. A team of technical education experts should be put together to assure that the program developed for the fifth-graders following their move to the new space is developmentally appropriate, and takes advantage of the best opportunities in the middle school while not asking too much of our students too early.
In my opinion, an element of the failure of prior bonds to pass has been the lack of public involvement in goal setting, alternative development, and selection. Looking forward to upcoming operating levies and potential bond requirements, I want to make sure that the district works hard, not just educating voters after decisions are made by the School Board, but rather creating opportunity for public engagement throughout the process. It is important for administrators, School Board members, and our expert educators to hear the spectrum of family and student expectations for the school district.
Q: Take a small space to make a statement, not part of the questions asked, that you'd like people to know about you.
A: Over five years ago, my partner and I decided that I would be a stay-at-home parent for our two kids. We wanted to focus on our family's success, and an important element of that is the success of the entire community of Hastings. We are on land that has been in my partner's family for more than 100 years. As a member of the Walt and Ester Pechacek family, I have felt the warmth, strength, loyalty, and pride of Hastings, and look forward to my family being long-term members of this community.
This is an important and engaging time to be working in education and I am looking forward to serving on the School Board in District 200. Whatever happens in this contest, I will continue to be involved with the education of my children, and committed to building success for all children in District 200.