Herald Journal - Voters' Guide 2010
VOTERS' GUIDE 2010
Herald Journal / Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch / Delano Herald Journal

Delano School Board

Five people have filed for a position on the Delano School Board.

Timothy Douglas, Patricia Osmon, and Lisa Seguin have filed for the three available four-year seats, while Erika Kluge Frake and Carolyn Milano are running for two open two-year seats.

Tim Douglas

Why are you running for Delano School Board?

I believe that we have an obligation to the community to perform public service in areas where we have capabilities.

I feel that I possess management and analytical skills that are useful to the district, both in its day-to-day operations and its future planning.

I also want to see that our commitment to the students of the district does not waiver, and that it continues to assure that they have the opportunity to achieve at our current levels of excellence, both academically and athletically.

What do you think are the two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

Above all else, the funding and fiscal viability of the district through this economic recession is the issue of highest importance.

In the last five years, the current board has held a solid line against increased costs and additional spending.

However, to continue to fairly compensate our administrators, instructional staff, and support individuals, and to maintain the current levels of educational excellence by providing the district’s students with the optimum facilities and tools, we will need to find sources of additional revenues.

My pledge from four years ago remains in place today; I will not come to the taxpayers of the district for additional taxes first. I will exhaust all other avenues of generating additional revenues and strive to eliminate every dollar of spending that could be perceived as unnecessary or wasteful first.

I will lobby our elected officials to increase funding to our district by pushing for a fair allocation of the existing state dollars amongst the Minnesota school districts. I am not a proponent of additional taxes and I will only come to the taxpayers of the district as an avenue of last resort.

The second issue would be overcrowding in our buildings. The three buildings have student populations that exceed their capacity at this time. I can see no way that the student population will not continue to grow in future years. We have seen a reduction in student population growth, more likely than not attributed to the economic downturn and the housing market declines.

Due to the reduction, we have been able to delay a solution to this problem to future years. But, the problem has not been eliminated; the solution has only been delayed.

If elected, I will continue to limit the growth in our student population due to non-resident and open-enrolled students. I will lobby our state legislators to remove mandates that allow for growth in student population from these sources. If the need for additional facilities arises, I will oversee those projects to assure that they are built as efficiently and as effectively as possible at the minimum possible cost to the district’s taxpayers.

Why should you be elected?

I believe that I have a skill set that is valuable to the district. With my accounting and budgeting background, I understand the financial concerns that face the district over the next four years.

I believe that we have accomplished a lot over the last five years, to manage and improve the fiscal viability of the district while maintaining educational excellence.

However, I believe that there is still work to be done and I would welcome the opportunity to continue the process.

Erika Kluge Frake

Why are you running for Delano School Board?

We moved here from Waukesha, WI several years ago. My husband, Brian, and I have three young children who will be in the Delano school system for many years to come.

Inquiring into quality schools was the highest priority when viewing housing options. We were both very pleased with the district and town after initial visits and decided Delano was the place we would like to raise our family.

We feel Delano provides a rounded education and offers its students a variety of technology opportunities.

We were elated when our eldest daughter, Ally, came home after her first day in Delano first grade and exclaimed, “This was the best day ever.”

Being a school board member will allow me to become more involved in my children’s education and allow me to use my educational background as a resource for the district.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

Two issues that I believe are at the forefront are how to provide greater support for both teachers and students in meeting their Q-Comp goals, and providing greater supports for differentiated learning at all levels.

Delano has fostered a culture and reputation that we are among the best. In order to maintain that, we must continue to support our teachers and students.

The state requires that we continue to show improvement, but that gets more and more challenging as we hold our students and staff to such high standards.

This situation requires strategic planning, and continued board support. In order to achieve our goals, differentiated instruction requires continued, consistent attention. We must provide for the academic outliers with the same passion that we provide for the rest of the student body.

As we are all aware, budget issues remain a real concern for schools around the nation and right here in Delano.

I am hopeful I can offer some new insight in these areas by utilizing my professional background in educational and non-profit settings.

Why should you be elected?

My educational background and degrees are in early childhood education, special education, and communication disorders, and two of my own children receive services for the gifted and talented.

I will ensure that those students who do not fit the educational middle will receive purposeful academic planning. In addition, I am an assistive technology specialist, and I have a passion for educating professionals, parents, and students about the many tools available to enhance greater academic success in grades two through college.

There are many opportunities available that are free and low cost to support our students. I support the use of technology for all students in school, but in particular, I am aware of technology opportunities that can enhance the success of individual students who struggle with reading, writing, and executive function (organization and thought processing).

I would like to offer my knowledge and support to the Delano community schools in their ongoing efforts to provide high-quality education and experiences to Delano youth.

Carolyn Milano

Why are you running for Delano School Board?

With much thought and consideration, my decision to seek re-election for the Delano School Board was based on my fundamental belief that in some way one must give back to the community at-large, be that in time, money, involvement, talents, service, volunteerism, and/or participation.

To be able to give back in whatever way you can, really does make a huge difference. I believe that all people, both young and old, can, and should, make their mark. Everyone has their own special mark that truly does make a difference. So there you have it, “Make your mark!”

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

I believe that the two major issues that face our district are equity and adequacy in state funding.

For the past four years, I have had the honor of representing the Delano School Board as the liaison for Schools for Equity in Education (SEE), which is an association of 58 school districts, about one-third of Minnesota’s kindergarten through 12th grade public school students.

SEE districts tend to be lower property wealth districts that receive well below the state average in funding.

School districts are literally looking like a Monopoly board; we (Delano) represent the Mediterranean Avenue- and Baltic Avenue-type properties, and our neighboring districts to the east of us, represent Boardwalk and Park Place, all because the current funding system is broken and has created alarming funding disparities between Minnesota school districts.

The bulk of the funding disparity is caused by the referendum levy.

Years of inadequate state funding have forced increased reliance on voter-approved property tax referendums just to maintain basic programming and operations.

As a result of inadequate state funding, 90 percent of all Minnesota school districts have had to ask local voters for additional revenue, however, the funds generated by school levies vary between $5 per pupil unit (p/p/u) and more than $1,800 p/p/u.

The average school district in Minnesota has a local operating levy of $896 p/p/u. Delano has a $426 p/p/u operating levy that will expire in 2012.

This absolutely sets up the “haves” and “have nots,” based merely upon where a child lives.

Here’s one more visual that I have likened school funding to. The districts that have more money and less taxpayer effort, “The haves,” are water skiing behind very high-powered motor boats. But, for us, here in Delano, “The have nots,” it’s hard, if not impossible, to water ski behind a row boat.

Districts with high levels of property wealth have a distinct advantage in passing levy referendums because of the larger property tax base, usually including significant commercial and industrial property, upon which taxes are spread.

Homeowners in low property wealth school districts (that’s us) often have to pay two to three times as much to generate the same amount of revenue. Our students receive less and we pay more. What’s fair about that?

I, along with SEE, believe that the current level and distribution of funding fails to meet the constitutional mandate, and is depriving Minnesota students of the high-quality education system they need and deserve because of its inadequacy of funding, inequity in educational opportunities, and inequity in taxpayer effort.

The solution to our current funding system is comprehensive funding reform. Given the fiscal challenges that Minnesota is now facing, it’s understandable that full-blown reform may have to wait, however some steps need to immediately be taken by our legislature to remedy these problems:

• promote greater taxpayer fairness by increasing the equalization factor for all levies, especially the referendum levy equalizing factor that has not been adjusted upward to reflect growth since 1993;

• the general education levy should be re-established to provide greater funding stability, equity, and tax fairness;

• the cap on the referendum levy should remain at its current level;

• reduce funding disparity between the highest and lowest revenue districts; and

• eliminate reliance on the referendum levy for all school districts.

“All public school children must have equal access to a high quality education, regardless of where they live in Minnesota. Our children’s future won’t wait” – SEE

Why should you be elected?

Reflecting on my past four years of service on the Delano School Board and commitment to the Delano School District, I believe that my experience, training, and understanding of the role and duties will positively affect the future of the students, the district, and the community.

The committees that I have served on have given me the framework, knowledge, and ability necessary to communicate, collaborate, and function independently, and more importantly, as part of a team. That’s what a board is – a team.

The decisions, as a whole, need to reflect what is in the best interest of the students and citizens.

I am committed to and very passionate about the importance of public education. Vision, commitment, respect, integrity, empathy, and a true love of learning are qualities that I believe make up a good school board member.

These traits are inherent in my character, perceptions, beliefs, and value system. Communication skills, policy development/oversight, and long-range planning skills that I have developed over time, through experience, in practice and through continued training, are the foundation of a highly effective and excellent school board member.

Patricia Osmon

Why are you running for Delano School Board?

I am running for Delano School Board because I believe I possess the experience and skills to contribute effectively to the school board at-large, as we face new developing challenges. I am a sound believer in being a proactive participant in formulating and implementing solutions to community challenges.

I am a committed parent and community member who strongly believes in supporting and enhancing Delano’s dedication to educational excellence.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

The two major issues facing Delano schools are intertwined. How do we continue and enhance our tradition of exceptional award-winning education with the current federal and state budget crisis?

I envision Delano schools to continue to be proactive and use forward thinking to engage this budget crisis. I look to continue to contribute my voice to make wise and tough financial decisions. I look to not only streamline our efficiencies, but to make us stronger and better prepared for what is forthcoming, in not only the next budget year, but those to come, with the ultimate goal of maintaining and building on Delano’s history of academic excellence.

Why should you be elected?

I am a Delano community resident since July 2009, with three children in the Delano school system. I have my doctorate from Baylor University in physical therapy, and work as a pediatric physical therapist, serving the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted School District.

Concurrently, I serve as an adjunct professor for Dunwoody’s Physical Therapy Assistant Program, and I am a Major (promotable) in the 452nd Combat Support Hospital, US Army Reserves located in Minneapolis. I have served on the Delano School Board since January 2010.

I have dedicated my professional career to a combination of service to our country, children, and education system, and I am dedicated to contributing to the success of the Delano school system.

Thank you for considering my qualifications for director on the Delano School Board. I look forward to your support in the upcoming election.

Lisa Seguin

Why are you running for Delano School Board?

My main reason for running is because I want to play an active role in making my community the best it can be. I chose the school board particularly because of my passion for education.

I grew up in a family of educators and I chose to live here because of our school district. I have a strong passion for doing everything I can to help make sure our history of educational excellence continues. As a parent of two young children, I have a vested interest in this district and want to have a voice.

What do you think are two major issues at this time, and what do you propose to do about them?

I don’t think that anyone would argue that one of the most important issues facing our district is a decline in state funding. We are all hoping that funding from the state remains flat, knowing that it may actually be decreased. We continue to see the state use tactics, such as delaying shift repayments, which puts an incredible burden on the local school districts.

Our district is constantly being asked to “do more with less.” Our district has been fortunate to have maintained a fund balance over the past several years, despite flat funding from the state. We can attribute this largely to the fiscal responsibility of our school board and the district’s administration.

Our local levy is well below the state average, despite the fact that our students’ test scores are in the top percentage of students in the state. We are already doing more with less.

In order to maintain the quality of education our students receive today, we will have to generate additional funding at the local level, by way of increasing our operating levy.

Another opportunity I have seen is to improve communication between the school and the community. I think the school board is accountable to ensure that taxpayers in our community understand the challenges we are facing. They can read in the paper that state funding may be cut, but do they understand what that would mean for us?

They will read that the school board wants to renew and increase the local operating levy next year, but do they understand what that means and what the impact is if it doesn’t pass?

Conversations I have had with people lead me to believe we have opportunities in this area and there are ways for us to improve this communication.

I’d like to explore how the district could leverage more frequent use of blogs and social media, as well as more traditional media, to keep people informed and educated on the issues we face, as well as the accomplishments we achieve.

Why should you be elected?

Simply put, I constantly strive to do “what’s right for kids.”

I understand the board’s role in accountability, always try to solve problems as they occur, and have the strength to stand up for what’s right.

Additionally, I have served on the board for a year, having been appointed in September 2009 to finish a term of a former member.

While I learned a lot in my first year on the board, I still have a lot to learn. A four-year term will allow me to deepen my knowledge and to ultimately be a more effective board member.

I’m looking forward to this opportunity, as well as the opportunity to serve the community in which I chose to raise my family.

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