2015 Elections - ISD 197

Brenda Corbett
Brenda Corbett
Stephen Hoffman
Stephen Hoffman
Joanne Mansur
Joanne Mansur
Brian McDougall
Brian McDougall
Anthony Remick
Anthony Remick
Melissa Rousu
Melissa Rousu
Byron Schwab
Byron Schwab
Terry Stamman
Terry Stamman

ISD 197 school board elections: nine candidates, four seats

On Nov. 3 residents of West St. Paul, Mendota Heights and part of Eagan will have the opportunity to select a majority of the ISD 197 school board.

The terms of current school board members Brenda Corbett, Joanne Mansur, Byron Schwab and Mark Spurr are set to expire Dec. 31. All but Spurr are running for re-election.

Challengers include Kelly Gibbons, Stephen Hoffman, Brian McDougall, Anthony Remick, Melissa Rousu and Terry Stamman, making a total of nine candidates vying for four open seats.

Current school board members John Chandler, Matthew Klein and Stephanie Levine have terms that expire in 2018.

The Review asked the candidates what skills and experience they'd bring to the board, what they see as the top challenges facing the district in the coming years and what issue or project they would prioritize if elected.

Election day is Nov. 3. To find your polling place head to http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us or call Dakota County Elections and Voting at 651-438-4305.

Brenda Corbett

Corbett, 72, of West St. Paul, is currently completing her first term on the ISD 197 School Board. She is married to Victor Corbett and holds a master's degree in  education from the University of Minnesota.

Before retiring in 2010, Corbett had been a classroom teacher for more than 30 years, including 20 in ISD 197 schools.

She taught in all five elementary schools, the two middle schools, as well as Henry Sibley High School and St. Mary's Graduate School.

According to Corbett, her experience working in these schools, in varying capacities — as well as living in the district for 40 years and sending her children to ISD 197 schools from kindergarten through high school — gives her an understanding of students' needs.

"I care deeply about our children and education," Corbett said.

Part of what that care means to her, she said, is addressing challenges like the achievement gap.

"My concern of top priority is closing the achievement gap by providing our schools with the necessary staff development, experiences, and resources to do so, all the while remembering and emphasizing that while closing the achievement gap is perhaps the most important thing, it is not the only thing," Corbett said. "Each student is far more than a standardized test score."

Stephen Hoffman

Hoffman, 56, of West St. Paul, is an eighth-grade international history and geography teacher at a fine arts school in the Robbinsdale Area Schools district.

He is married to Lisa Hoffman and holds a master's degree in education focusing on learning technologies from the University of St. Thomas, along with additional licensures from Hamline University in administration and superintendency.

During the coarse of his career, he has worked in education — teaching and administrating — both in the Twin Cities and abroad in the Solomon Islands and Egypt. 

"I am running for School Board to be part of instigating and promoting the exceptionality of ISD 197," Hoffman said.

If he is elected, he said he would focus on enhancing student learning and leadership within a global context, expanding community collaboration with public and private partnerships, strengthening commitment to equity and achievement, continuing fiscally responsible academic programming, and increasing community education access.

"I would love to see the extension of immersion options beyond the school day available to all of our high school students," Hoffman said.

Joanne Mansur

Mansur, 47, of Mendota Heights, is a market research manager at Thomson Reuters-Legal Division, and has been on the ISD 197 School Board for the last four years.

She is married to Mark Mansur and holds a master's degree in marketing and finance from the University of St. Thomas. As an undergraduate she studied economics at Macalester College.

She has served as the Vice Chair of the school board for the past two years and chairs the results committee, as well as being the ISD 197 board representative to intermediate district 917.

According to Mansur, continued academic achievement and the achievement gap are the critical issues the district is facing.

"Every student should achieve measureable growth year over year," Mansur said.

In addition to addressing those needs, she said the district needs to continue to focus on transforming teaching and learning.

"Our students are vastly different today then I was as a student and with those changing needs comes an opportunity to change the way we deliver education."

Brian McDougall

McDougall, 43, is an instructional designer at UnitedHealth Group.

He is married to Lesley McDougall and holds a master's degree in business administration from Augsburg College. As an undergraduate, he studied education and political science at the University of Minnesota-Morris.

"I have specialized in technology training which is a front burner issue for the district right now," McDougall said. "I am also a member of the PTA Board and an active volunteer at Mendota Elementary, where my daughter attends school and where my son will start next year."

To McDougall, the primary focus of the district should be to find new approaches to the problem of raising test scores.

"We have poured money into raising test scores in this district and have not achieved the expected results," he said.

Some solutions he says are viable are to offer test preparation courses to the students, increase teacher training, and extend learning time in the school day.

Another issue he said he sees is the district's partial-day pre-K program, which he said "does not work for families with working parents."

Anthony Remick

Remick, 31, of Eagan, is currently finishing his last year of law school at the University of Minnesota-Law School and works part-time as a law clerk at Terhaar, Archibald, Pfefferle and Griebel, LLP in Minneapolis.

He is married to Emily Remick and holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota. He expects to attain his juris doctorate in May 2016.

Remick believes his legal education and research skills will be a valuable asset to the board.

"Many board decisions are guided by statutes and I can help the board understand these statutory guidelines," Remick said. "Law school has also taught me to thoroughly research all decisions before making any recommendations."

Remick, who attended school in ISD 197 from Pilot Knob Elementary School to Henry Sibley High School, said he has a "passion for this community."

According to Remick, the top challenge the district faces is furthering the implementation and use of technology, though he said, "We must be careful not to rely on the technology in place of interactive teaching methods. However, the technology provides many great opportunities."

If Remick is elected, he said his first project will be to encourage community engagement in the schools.

Melissa Rousu

Rousu, 35, of West St. Paul, is an associate project manager at Capella University.

She is married to Mike Rousu and holds a master's of education from Capella University. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in the same field.

"I believe my experience in project management and higher education, as well as my educational background makes me an ideal candidate," Rousu said.

According to Rousu, the top two challenges facing the school district in upcoming years is parent involvement and bringing technology use to the next level.

She said the district needs to continue investing in the Parent Academy program, which she recently attended and found valuable.

"We need to expand it to include information on technology and how to use technology in the home to help children succeed," Rousu said.

She said the district also needs to create specialized seminars on financial aid for college-bound students and on how parents can help prepare their children to transition to a middle school or high school setting.

Byron Schwab

Schwab, 67, of West St. Paul, is a retired principal of Pilot Knob Elementary School and is currently finishing his first four-year term on the ISD 197 School Board.

He is married to Mary Schwab and he studied music education and education administration at the University of Minnesota and holds a specialist degree in administration from Gustavus Adolphus College.

Schwab has 19 years of experience teaching students, from kindergarten through grade twelve and he was also an elementary principal for 18 years, 14 of which were at Pilot Knob.

Schwab has also served on various education boards and associations around the Twin Cities.

"Three issues and challenges in particular that need to be addressed in ISD 197 are student achievement and the achievement gap, 21st Century educational concepts and environments, and long-term facility maintenance and improvements," Schwab said. 

He said these can be addressed through identification of individual students' needs, cultural competency training and responsible appropriation of funds; through curriculum, instruction, learning environments and technology; and lastly, through an in-depth study of present facilities, future needs and strategic financial planning.

Terry Stamman

Stamman, 51, of West St. Paul, is the owner of Twin Cities Siding Professionals and has run the business for over 20 years.

He is married to Kristen Stamman and he went to North Central University where he majored in pastoral studies and earned a bachelor's degree before going on to start his business.

"I have spent many hundreds of hours volunteering in the school district and consequently have a good handle on the issues that concern the district," Stamman said.

Being a business owner, he said he is "a strong decision-maker and problem solver and has spent 20 years being held accountable for those decisions," but that he also has "a collaborative style of management and will have no problem working on a committee making compromises that keep the district moving forward."

According to Stamman, the district needs to continue to close the achievement gap, but not lose sight of the importance of the arts, music and other studies.

"I believe that our students need more volunteers in the schools," Stamman said. "Students do better when they receive individualized attention. I am willing to spend time recruiting able persons to come into our schools to help our students get the attention they deserve."

Kelly Gibbons

Gibbons is also listed as a candidate; however, she did not respond to the Review's calls in time to be included on this story.

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815. Follow him at twitter.com/JPooleNews.

 

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