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News Hastings,Minnesota 55033 http://www.hastingsstargazette.com/sites/all/themes/hastingsstargazette_theme/images/social_default_image.png
Hastings Star Gazette
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School board candidate profiles published here
Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

When voters go to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 5, they will elect three School Board members. Terms of office are four years.

There are three open positions on the District 200 School Board. Incumbents Dan Cater and Angie McGinnis have filed for re-election. Three newcomers, Scott Gergen, Russ Rohloff and Herman Fasbender, also filed. Incumbent Teresa Moes did not file for another term, but remains on the School Board. She was appointed to the vacant position when Dan Greil resigned in August.

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All five candidates were asked the same questions. Here are their responses.

Dan Cater, Incumbent

Q: Please supply some background information about yourself.

 A: I’m a life-long resident of Hastings.  My wife Karen and I have three great children, Samantha, Zachary, and Matthew. I’m currently employed at Dakota County as the Information Technology Director. I’ve served on several non-profit boards in the metropolitan area before joining Hastings School Board in 2006 where I have been serving as the Chairman since 2012.  

Q: Why did you file for this position?

 A: The next few years are going to be challenging as the school district, like many other districts, deals with reduced funding due to declining enrollment. I believe the district can benefit from my experience.  

Q: What are the issues and challenges facing Hastings School District 200? How do you believe that they should be addressed?

A: Declining enrollment is creating a revenue problem.  I don’t think we can ask the residents of Hastings to have more children, so we need to make sure we keep the students we do have by making our programs attractive to students who might otherwise choose to homeschool or open enroll to another district.  We also need to continue to pass operating levy renewals, such as the one being requested this Nov. 5, please vote yes and take advantage of the almost $1 million the state is offering in property tax relief for districts that pass levies this fall.  Also, our students need more support in facing mental health and chemical health challenges. We need to increase our students’ access to mental and chemical health professionals. Q: With budget and financial issues/ongoing concerns, how should the district “balance” providing sound education services and programs for its students with the financial restraints it has?  

A: Financial constraints cannot become an excuse for poor programming. We need to look for efficiencies and we need to focus on and support our quality programs. We need to take full advantage of the technology we have in the classroom. Using the “flip classroom model” is one example of leveraging technology to provide cost effective quality programming that appeals to today’s students and teachers.    

Q: The School District at this Nov. 5 election, is also asking voters to renew a current operating levy, at the same level, for another 10 years. How will you vote on this?  Why?

A: Absolutely yes.  Before this levy passed my son Matthew had 32 kids in his first grade classroom. Since its passing we have been able to keep reasonable class sizes. Also, the passing of this renewal will bring the community almost a million dollars in property tax relief. In other words the tax burden on individuals will be less than it has been over the last eight years. We need to take advantage of this discount gift the state is giving our property tax payers.    

Q: How would you rate the Hastings School District?

A: I would say we have a great school district. We graduate well-rounded students prepared for their next endeavors in life.  Undoubtedly, there is always room for improvement. We never want to be complacent and we are not. Every year we make changes to become an even greater district.  

Q: Why should voters vote for you? Do you have any other comments you wish to share?

A: I’m an experienced effective leader currently serving the board as its Chairman but it’s most important to vote Yes for the levy. Perhaps the best reason to vote for me is because I’m not reluctant to let people know how important this levy renewal is on Nov. 5. Please vote yes.

I can be contacted at www.facebook.com/Citizens4Cater or 651-480-3005.

Herman Fasbender

Q: Please supply some background information about yourself.

A: Age 54, graduated from Hastings High School in 1976 and received BS in Natural Science from St. John’s University. My permanent address has always been within District 200 boundaries.  I am one of ten children, married for 23 years to Andrea Fasbender and I have two sons, one of whom graduated from Hastings High School and one who is currently going to Hastings Middle School. Worked for +30 years in the insurance industry. Volunteered in the past for Hastings Rotary, Knights of Columbus, Ducks Unlimited and Minnesota Waterfowl.  On the board of directors for Hastings Chapter of Pheasants Forever and Hastings Men’s Volleyball League. Member of SEAS and Hastings River Rats Fishing Club. 

Q: Why did you file for this position?

A: At this point in my career, I believe it is important to give back to the community that I have lived in my entire life and I can think of no better long-term way to have an impact on the city’s future, than to shape its youth. I have a fairly extensive background in risk management and consider that my biggest attribute I can bring to the Board.

Q: What are the issues and challenges facing Hastings School District 200? How do you believe that they should be addressed?

A:Two of the more critical challenges are declining enrollment and unfunded mandates. 

Where they are distinctly different issues, they are strangely related due to their  financial impact on the District.  There are two pieces of recently passed legislation (one through the U.S. House of Representatives and the other through the  Minnesota House of Representatives), which should allow the local school districts to have more control over their budgets and direction. 

I firmly believe local decision making trumps that coming out of both St. Paul and Washington, D.C.

Q: With budget and financial issues/ongoing concerns, how should the district “balance” providing sound education services and programs for its students with the financial restraints it has?  

A: Many of the district’s businesses and families have been dealing with these same financial restraints for the past 7-8 years, balancing their needs and wants. The School District needs to follow the criteria, prioritizing the District’s need verses the Districts wants. Just to be perfectly clear, a sound education in the three R’s are a need.

Q: The School District at this Nov. 5 election, is also asking voters to renew a current operating levy, at the same level, for another 10 years. How will you vote on this?  Why?

 A: I sent my absentee ballot in today and vote yes.  Why?  This is a continuation of an existing operating levy that went in to effect in 2003.  As alluded to in my answer No. 3, there is recent state of Minnesota legislation that will give the local school board much control over the budget process in the future, making these operating levy elections unnecessary in the future.

Q: How would you rate the Hastings School District?

A: Because I have never lived outside of the School District’s boundaries, I have no basis for rating the district. I will say that the district’s teachers I know personally  are all outstanding individuals and role models. Basing the “rating” on the historical end product, the district would have to get an A, as many quality individuals have walked through the School Districts doors the past 75 years.

Q: Why should voters vote for you? Do you have any other comments you wish to share?

A: I will put the interest of the students and the District’s tax base ahead of all other interests. 

Regardless who you vote for, I encourage all eligible voters to exercise their God-given right to vote in the Nov. 5 election. I realize that we all feel a bit disfranchised with the decisions coming out of Washington, D.C., and St. Paul, but think globally and act locally and each of us can make a difference.   

Scott Gergen

Q: Please supply some background information about yourself.

A: I was raised in Hastings and lived here through college. I moved into other metro suburbs, but came back to Hastings when I had children of my own. I have been married 22 years to my wife Ann. We have three sons ranging from 15 to 6 years.

I’m a technology manager with Thomson Reuters, overseeing large-scale software and infrastructure projects spanning the globe. My children are involved in many sports and other activities, which I participate in at various levels. I’m involved with USA Swimming as a certified official, I’ve coached soccer and baseball with HYAA, and I’ve helped out with Little Raiders football and lacrosse. I’m active on the Technology committee with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Q: Why did you file for this position?

A: I decided to run for school board in order to participate more fully in my community by giving time and talent. I care deeply about the quality of education and corresponding resources provided to upcoming generations.

Q: What are the issues and challenges facing Hastings School District 200? How do you believe that they should be addressed?

A: Although there was no singular issue that prompted me to run for school board, there are plenty of challenges ahead. School operations require thoughtful balance of competing priorities and limited resources, amid declining enrollment and budget challenges within the State of Minnesota. I want District 200 to look at options for the next 3-5 years to ensure that we have appropriately planned for these trends while still maintaining appropriate stewardship of tax dollars.

Q: With budget and financial issues/ongoing concerns, how should the district “balance” providing sound education services and programs for its students with the financial restraints it has?  

A: I support the concept that smaller class sizes generally net better educational results, improving interactions between teachers and students and allowing for individualized education plans driven by student needs. I also support the concept that well-rounded students are better prepared for all aspects of the future, so I support the total picture of academics, arts and athletics.

These goals must be appropriately balanced against resources and practical realities all school districts face in light of enrollment trends, fiscal constraints, teacher recruitments, and more. My commitment is to the philosophy that District 200 should maintain the most desirable, lowest ratio of students per teacher as is reasonable and responsible given the totality of our circumstances; and that we should continue to support the well-rounded education of students at every grade level.

Q: The School District at this Nov. 5 election, is also asking voters to renew a current operating levy, at the same level, for another 10 years. How will you vote on this?  Why?

A: I fully support the renewal of the levy. This equates to over $4M per school year for the next ten years and is essential to maintain service levels, achieve near-term planning goals, and retain reasonable reserves. I realize the impact of this operating levy on households in the District, however the long-term financial consequences of not renewing our levy would far outweigh any short-term concerns.

Q: How would you rate the Hastings School District?

A: I rate District 200 as an excellent value, delivering exceptional education and an appreciation for students of varying needs.

Q: Why should voters vote for you? Do you have any other comments you wish to share?

A: I am a reasonable, logical, well-spoken person with a penchant for problem solving. My technology career has included many opportunities for creativity, leadership, goal-setting and fiscal management. I’m very comfortable evaluating options, building consensus, and making difficult decisions.

I’ve been very involved volunteering for school-wide events and in the classroom, as well as an active participant in community sports groups. I’m enthusiastic and bring a positive spirit to the activities in which I participate. I would welcome the chance to serve my community in this way.

Angie McGinnis, incumbent

Q: Please supply some background information about yourself.

A: I have been a resident of Hastings for 16 years. My husband Pete and I have two children who go to school in District #200. Currently, I am the director of St. Philip’s Early Learning Center in Hastings. Prior to that, I had been a teacher in our district and I have also worked in payroll and bookkeeping. I have my undergraduate degree in elementary education and my graduate degree in education. My background allows me to bring a perspective to the board that is unique and diversified. I have served the community in a variety of ways which have included the following:

-School Volunteer

-Co-Chair of Bridge to a Cure

-S.A.V.E. Community Speaker

-Methodist Church Council Member

-Volunteer Coordinator at Tilden Kindergarten Center

-Junior Achievement Volunteer

-Hastings Family Service Board Member

-Volunteer at Hastings Family Service

-Crisis nursery volunteer

-Volunteer coach

Q: Why did you file for this position?

A: I value public school education and especially the work being done at Hastings schools. Running for re-election gives me the opportunity to continue to serve students, staff, parents, and the Hastings community. Having a strong background in education, my work as a board member offers a perspective of an experienced educator. In addition, the four years I have served on the board gives me the experience and knowledge base to be a stronger board member if I were re-elected. I will continue to work to see achievement levels of our students rise in areas that promote student success such as effective curriculum, staff development, class size, technology, safe facilities, mental health, etc. I want to continue to make sure the investment of people’s hard earned money has a high return. Our school board has worked hard to be fiscally responsible while working to give students excellent opportunities to succeed in the Hastings Public Schools.

Q: What are the issues and challenges facing Hastings School District 200? How do you believe that they should be addressed?

A: Currently, the most challenging issue facing the Hastings School District is the passage of the levy on Nov. 5. Without the passage of this levy, there will be difficult budget reductions. The budgetary constraints would force the school board to make reductions in areas that will have an adverse effect on students.

Another challenge is maintaining rigorous academic expectations. In addition to that challenge is the challenge of working toward higher achievement levels in our students’ academic progress. Examining data to determine the best practices to reach higher achievement levels is a great challenge as well. Curriculum, educational practices, and staff development are areas that need attention so we have well equipped teachers in the classroom.

Mental health issues and chemical use are affecting a growing population of students in our schools and community. This issue needs to be addressed to assure that all students are succeeding to the best of their ability. Counselors, social workers, and school psychologists have case-loads that continue to rise due to these circumstances. Being able to support students in these situations are challenging both in terms of adequate support for them and meeting their needs academically, socially, and emotionally.

Technology initiatives are continually changing, while expectations of technology usage placed on teachers and students rises. Balancing cost, efficiency, staffing, training and student use is very challenging for our district.

Q: With budget and financial issues/ongoing concerns, how should the district “balance” providing sound education services and programs for its students with the financial restraints it has?  

A: Our school board works closely with district administration to make sound decisions that are not only fiscally responsible, but also provide the best learning opportunities for students. Often times the budgetary restraints force us to make very difficult decisions. However, much thought and consideration is put into making these decisions. Research and data are used in making program and financial decisions. With this information, the school board is able to balance programming for students and financially living within our means.

Q: The School District at this Nov. 5 election, is also asking voters to renew a current operating levy, at the same level, for another 10 years. How will you vote on this?  Why?

A: Absolutely, I will vote yes for the renewal of this levy. A yes vote benefits the students of our community. Major budget reductions will take place if this levy fails, which will have negative consequences for our school district. The levy is a renewal of an existing levy that has been in place since 2005. No new money is being added, which means there is no additional burden placed on taxpayers. In addition, if the levy passes our community will receive tax relief of over $900,000 from the state of Minnesota. It is a responsible decision to vote yes, in order to give our students the best opportunities to be successful.

Q: How would you rate the Hastings School District?

A: I am proud of Hastings schools and proud of our community. Our community continually supports our schools and there is a strong tradition, of this support, that has had a lasting impact on our schools. As a district, our students continue to make academic gains, the graduation rate is high, our students are encouraged to be academically, athletically and artistically involved in opportunities our schools offer, and there is a continual effort in having students reach their highest potential. Additionally, district wide, there is a collaborative effort to make decisions that are best for students, there is a respect for tax payer’s hard earned money and there is recognition that there is always room for improvement. Our school leaders, administrators, teachers, and staff work hard to examine, assess and problem solve areas that need addressing. This is an ongoing process and will continue to be an ongoing process.

Q: Why should voters vote for you? Do you have any other comments you wish to share?

A: I am asking for voters’ support on Nov. 5. I am a strong advocate for public school education, for our community, and most certainly the students in District #200. I am committed to working on behalf of our students and families. Thank you to the residents of Hastings for their continued support of education in our community.

Russ Rohloff

Q: Please supply some background information about yourself.

A: My wife is Lisa Rohloff and we have a tenth-grade daughter, Kalli, and an eighth-grade son, Cory. I am employed by the YMCA of Greater Twin Cities as the building superintendent. I have been a resident for 18 years and I have been involved with both city and school district planning since we moved to town.

My community involvement with the City of Hastings has been as a Park and Recreation commissioner for five plus years, presently a Planning Commissioner for almost four years and I sat on the Citizens Advisory Committee for the City’s Comprehensive Plan.

My connection with the Hastings School District 200 was being on the Facility Task Force for Hastings School Facilities in 2009. We went through all facility-owned buildings and accessed what maintenance needs each building had. Then we developed a consensus regarding a preferred direction for resolving the long-term facility needs and then advised the School Board on our findings.

I’m also a Hastings United Way Board member, vice-president of the Hastings Basketball Boosters and facility coordinator for the Hastings Lacrosse Booster Club.

I have coached multiple sports including basketball, baseball, football and girls fastpitch softball.

Q: Why did you file for this position?

A: I filed for the Hastings school board because of my strong belief in a good education for all children because they’re the future of the school and community. I strongly believe our children should have a safe environment with well-maintained facilities for the opportunity for educational growth and community development. I will only be one vote but I will be the voice for our kids and do what’s right for the children and the tax payers in School District 200.

Q: What are the issues and challenges facing Hastings School District 200? How do you believe that they should be addressed?

A: The declining enrollment and budget reduction are ongoing issues. I would research and implement best practices to improve efficiency. Then I would put a strategic plan together with community members for our kid’s educations. Technology is lacking many updates in our school system and the future is technology.

We as taxpayers can do something about it. The upcoming levy renewal is our best way to provide additional funding that will help with teacher support in the classroom and technology updates. It is critical to get correct levy information to all District 200 voters and to help the voters understand the outcome of a “Yes” vote. Additionally, we need to hold the school district financially accountable on their spending. It is critical to spend money on top priority district needs. It is not a time for “nice to have” spending.

Q: With budget and financial issues/ongoing concerns, how should the district “balance” providing sound education services and programs for its students with the financial restraints it has?  

A: We need to take a look at the value for our students and taxpayers. Taxpayers fund our schools. It’s important we provide a good return on the taxpayer investment. Our fund balance provides financial stability, but we must be incisive in spending wisely and preserving where possible. Technology should and could play a big part into saving taxpayers money.

Q: The School District at this Nov. 5 election, is also asking voters to renew a current operating levy, at the same level, for another 10 years. How will you vote on this?  Why?

A: I will be voting yes for the levy. We need to support our kid’s future. It will help sustain quality educational programming like low class sizes, individual student attention and meaningful academic gains. This will also pay for any technology we will need in the upcoming years.

Q: How would you rate the Hastings School District?

A: Overall I would rate the district high. There are areas of the district that need some attention and some areas that don’t.

Q: Why should voters vote for you? Do you have any other comments you wish to share?

A: Because I will be reasonable, resourceful and reliable for the kids that live in this community, all district staff and community tax payers. We need a solid foundation to get a great education for our kid’s and a solid foundation on the Hastings school board so elect Russ Rohloff on Nov. 5.

I can be contacted by either phone 612-462-5477, email 4rohloff@gmail.com, on Facebook – Rohloff for School Board or twitter @russrohloff.

In addition to these five candidates, Nick Tuckner is running an active write-in campaign. More information on Tuckner can be found at https://www.facebook.com/TuckForHastingsSchoolBoard2013?ref=hl.

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Chad Richardson
Chad Richardson is the publisher and editor at the Hastings Star Gazette. He was the general manager of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages from 2000 to 2007. He previously worked at the Star Gazette from 1996 to 2000 as a photographer and reporter. He also worked as a photographer and writer at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.
(651) 319-4500
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