District 623 ballot includes building bond, 3 candidates for 3 seats

ELECTION 2017


Residents will have a chance to cast votes on two matters related to the Roseville Area School District on Election Day, Nov. 7.

The big ticket item is a $144 million building bond the district has requested in order to address its aged infrastructure. The money will be used to build more space at cramped schools, upgrade and update classrooms and improve other facilities.

Those who vote “yes” on the bond will be voting for a property tax increase. According to the district, a person who owns a home with the district median value of $250,000 will be looking at paying $468 more each year in taxes. 

That figure includes a tax increase related to the Long-Term Facilities Maintenance money the school board approved this summer. That $12 million will address heating, ventilation and air conditioning needs, along with things like roofs, walls and windows.

The last time the district asked for a building bond was in 1992; administrators stress that they would not be asking for money unless it was truly needed.

While what will happen with the building bond remains to be seen, there’s a little less drama involved in this year’s Roseville Area School Board race.

There are three candidates, including two incumbents, running for three seats. Board members Kitty Gogins and Frank Shaw are nearly assured reelection, while Curtis Johnson ought to be already making plans for his first term on the board.

Mark Traynor, the current board chair who on Oct. 11 was named president and CEO of health insurance nonprofit UCare, chose not to run.

The candidates were asked via email why they are running, what skills and experiences they bring to the board, what they think are the top challenges facing the district, and what issues or projects they would prioritize if elected.

 

Gogins, 59, is a self-employed business consultant who specializes in strategic and project leadership. She has a bachelor’s degree in food science from the University of Minnesota and lives in Roseville with her husband Mark.

With 12 years of experience on the Roseville Area School Board, Gogins said she also has 30 years experience in strategic planning, project leadership and change management in business, government and nonprofits. She said she has a track record of championing a rigorous and welcoming school environment and is committed to fiscal responsibility and engagement with parents, residents and businesses.

She said she is running because she believes in giving back to the community. “My husband and I received a good education in the Roseville Area Schools in the 1970s, as did my two children more recently,” she said. “I want to be sure all students in our community receive the same solid foundation.”

Gogins said she thinks the top challenges facing the district are passing the building bond referendum, which she said is “critical to providing the high quality education our community values,” and raising achievement for all students. 

“We need to make sure that each student is held to high standards and provided the education for their success in the global marketplace,” she said, adding such work needs to be done in a cost-efficient and fiscally responsible manner.

If elected, Gogins said her top priority would be, “Ensuring the district provides high quality education to all of our students and does it in a fiscally responsible manner.”

 

Johnson, 47, is a senior Java developer for Ingersoll Rand. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Macalester College and lives in Little Canada with his wife Jill.

A five-year board member for the Minnesota Parent Teacher Association, Johnson said he has two children who currently attend Roseville Area Schools, adding he is a fast learner.

Johnson said he is running for the school board because it’s his “next step.”

“I began as a devoted volunteer within the schools, I became the president of our PTA, which led to a board position within Minnesota’s state PTA,” he said, adding he cares deeply about ensuring a quality educational experience for kids in Roseville schools. 

Johnson said the first challenge he sees the district facing is the need “to continue focusing on the opportunity gap among children of various socio-economic backgrounds, but also children with varying abilities” He said gifted students are typically given great resources regardless of race or socio-economic background. 

He said he would like to see more organizations involved with science, technology, engineering and math continue to connect with schools, and would like to see the school board “seek out and continue to support creative and innovative professional development opportunities for teachers so that we work smarter and not harder on issues impacting children.”

If elected, Johnson said he would prioritize those STEM connections within district schools. “Partnering with organizations that could motivate and nurture our children toward careers and goal fulfillment is one way to work to ensure that we are optimizing our resources to sincerely build a better community for all children,” he said.

 

Shaw, 63, is a lecturer in mathematics at Hamline University. He has a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California-Riverside and lives in Roseville with his wife Ruth.

Already having served two non-consecutive terms on the board, Shaw said he also brings experience as a parent, educator, an educator of educators and as a statistician.

He said he is running “because I believe in this school district and I believe in public education in general. Further, I celebrate the idea of local control of public education and I’ve always striven to participate in this.”

Shaw added the district is “in the midst of the most profound changes ... since the enrollment collapse of the 1980s” and he’s excited to continue to be involved.

The top challenges the district faces, Shaw said, with its changing demographics, include “the persistent achievement gap, the problem of classroom atmosphere, the difficulty of knitting together so many diverse educational perspectives into a single coherent effective community.” He said there are opportunities in celebrating the district’s diversity, while it is also a challenge “maintaining the district’s distinct personality and identity as it continues to grow and develop.”

If elected, Shaw said he’ll prioritize overseeing the updating and upgrading of the district’s facilities. “Much of this will take place whether or not a major building bond referendum passes this fall, and it is important that people with a deep understanding of the values and history of the district are there to insure that the money is productively and wisely spent,” he said. “This will constitute a major investment in our community’s chief asset, its schools.”

 

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813



 

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