SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER ISD NO. 97 (MOOSE LAKE)Julie R. Peterson • Peter Steen • George Klaskin • Lesly Ramey • Kris Lyons
Question 1: How does your past experience, job or education qualify you to serve on the Moose Lake School Board?
Question 2: What specific criticism do you have of current school district policy or practice? How would you do things differently?
Question 3: Other than finding greater efficiencies, what areas would you look to trim first if there are unexpected budget deficits?
Julie R. Peterson
First of all, I feel I have common sense and the ability to listen to others, whether it is parents, teachers, or other members of the community. Everyone should have a voice.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from UMD, and taught biology and general science for several years and then substitute taught after having children, who both graduated from Moose Lake. I have had experiences as a parent, teacher, community member and a board member. I have been on the Moose Lake School Board as a board member, clerk, vice-chair and chair, and have also served on the Moose Lake Public Library Board and Arrowhead Library System Board. This has been a good experience and opportunity to see how schools and public libraries can work together. I am also on the Northeast Service Cooperative Board, which provides multiple services to school districts in the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota, including special education, services to visually and hearing impaired, cooperative purchasing, health insurance and programs such as the Knowledge Bowl and Inventors Convention. I have also been involved in the Minnesota School Board Association’s legislative forum, and try to keep informed on what is happening not only locally but on a statewide basis.
[I am] the campus administrator at an assisted living facility. I need to work with people, both staff and residents, and feel I have learned a great deal about how to get along with people and resolve differences. This experience has always been helpful to me as a member of the school board.
I really cannot think of a specific criticism of Moose Lake School District policy. My criticism would be towards state and federal policies and practices. For years school districts have faced unfunded mandates, and it looks like it may get worse. We are going to be facing a tough economy in the next few years, and the state will be looking at school districts to help bail them out. The state has already shifted payment of funds to schools, and now they are looking to borrow against fund balances in school districts. This is going to increase cash flow problems, not only at Moose Lake, but at all the school districts in Minnesota. One of the main duties of a school board is that we are fiscally responsible and live within our budget, which isn’t always easy. However, in the future it is going to be much more challenging to provide the quality education all students deserve.
We must continue to look at what programs we can share with neighboring districts. Moose Lake is already doing much in the area of cooperation and with all schools facing the financial issues, there will be further opportunities. We will need to think out of the box, and do more with less. We have experts in their field on the school payroll, and we must tap into this resource for ideas that can keep a district solvent.
The last thing a board wants to do is take an action that will hurt kids. Every board member candidate on the ballot is there because they care about children and want them to have the best education possible
Teaching high school science and math for five years gives me a good idea of what happens in the classroom and what needs to happen to accomplish successful outcomes.
The school is one of the fundamental elements of the community it serves, and is arguably at its very center. The current Moose Lake school board has lost touch with the mission in the classroom, cutting programs over the years while approving administration salary increases.
There is also an obvious disconnect and a loss of confidence of the electorate as is evidenced by repeated failures of attempts to pass referendums for a new school. They are simply out of touch, and it is time for a change.
To be sure, in these times, cutbacks are an unfortunate reality of dollar limitations. One area that has been overlooked in the past is administration. We need to look at efficiencies and redundancies in that area as well as all areas. Nothing is off the table.
I came from a larger school system which exposed me to a different experience than other board members. It is important to have both perspectives represented.
I graduated from Moorhead State University in criminal justice and social work.
I have been on the Moose Lake School Board for the last four years. Prior to running for the board, I regularly attended school board meetings for approximately 1 ½ years to learn what was happening within the school district. I have attended the four phase trainings offered by the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA), and additional training offered by the MSBA.
I don’t think the school district has done a good job of communicating with parents. With Minnesota having open enrollment, schools have to remember that parents and students are the customers of the district. We need to do a better job of serving our customers. I would continue on working to get parents more involved in improving our district.
Since around 83 percent of education funding goes to personnel costs, any cuts affect classroom instruction. Because of this, I strongly supported the district changing its schedule to more closely match that of our neighboring districts. This was done to allow our students to take classes from neighboring districts. Students also have an opportunity to take high school classes online or college classes with a schedule that more closely matches other districts and colleges. Since this new schedule offers many alternative ways to take a wide variety of electives, I would look at reducing the number of electives that we offer if necessary due to budget constraints.
My past experiences in the educational field for 35 years help qualify me for school board. In Moose Lake for 33 years, I have taught English and theater in the classroom, directed plays, coached both boys and girls sports at junior high and varsity levels. I also officiated sports at the high school and college levels. I was a substitute teacher in the Duluth area, did a teaching Fulbright Exchange to England, and have taught at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College as an adjunct professor.
I think complete, open communication is needed with a planned vision for the school district. I would like to take my wide and varied experiences and use in collaboration with students, teachers, parents, community, board members, and administration at Moose Lake to focus and contribute to quality education for the best interests of ALL students with high expectations in the learning environment and behavior environment at school to build a positive and achieving lifelong learning culture.
We are trying to share with other districts: Willow River and Barnum. We already looked at students, teachers, facilities, etc. Let’s look at administration as contracts run their course. We have site-based teams. Let’s be practical in these times of improved technology for communication and difficult finances for everyone. Education is changing with more sharing, that would be at the top, too. We have a substantial rainy day fund. Its purpose should be revisited. We can use some of it in contributing to quality education right now at Moose Lake.
Peter Steen declined to answer.