In the coming years, Minnetonka Public Schools will have to tackle many complex issues. Patch asked this year’s School Board candidates about how they’d handle some of the major issues facing the district.
Today’s question is:
- What is the key challenge that you see facing Minnetonka Public Schools in the future?
- General Operating Fund and Technology referendums are up in 2017. The next School Board will determine if another referendum will be brought to a vote by the community.
- Healthcare reform has the potential to limit the insurance funding options available to public institution like Minnetonka Public Schools. This complex issue has the potential to increase the cost of employee benefits without an increase in coverage. This issue was listed as a line item for more discovery in the most recent Master Agreement with the Teacher Association. According to the District financials, the self-insurance plan currently in places saves over $6 million annually.
- All-Day Kindergarten impact on facility capacity. The question facing the School Board and District Administration is the balance between additional facility enhancements to support the demand for Minnetonka’s high quality kindergarten and Ready Start Kindergarten (RSK) for both residents and open-enrollment. This year roughly 200 open enrollment applications were not accepted due to program capacity. The State’s funding of all-day Kindergarten tees up the question of how much growth is needed to sustain our model per grade level? When do we hit our tipping point? And should the District build additional capacity to meet the demand?
Attracting, retaining and developing high quality educators
- Succession planning for District Leadership
- State licensure requirements for Immersion Teachers
Inspiring and Supporting all students:
- Balance between Immersion/Traditional model and the ability to source Immersion teachers, para’s and substitutes.
- To sustain excellence in education within the Minnetonka Public Schools, the Board will need to continue to support programs that increase revenue as long as they support educational excellence.
There are three key issues that School Board members must keep in mind at all times: the needs of our learners, how to attract the highest quality staff possible, and how to fund and manage the budgetary requirements. These have been and will continue to be the biggest and most important challenges we face each year. Because of my experience on the Board, as a member of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, and as a business leader, I believe that I am well equipped and prepared to continue to lead the Minnetonka Public Schools as a member of the Minnetonka School Board.
The key challenge I see facing Minnetonka Public Schools is the ever increasing costs of running a high quality school system coupled with decreasing funding from both the State of Minnesota and The Federal Government. Until special education is funded to the level promised by the state, Minnetonka Public Schools pays around 4 million dollars from our general fund to cover the costs. Delayed payments and diverted funding continue to challenge our budget. Investing in updating our facilities to be more energy efficient, refinancing debt to the most cost effective rates, streamlining processes and innovation are just some of our tools with which to fight this continuing challenge.
There are 2 areas that require ongoing focus as a district and where I invest my attention as a Treasurer and Board Member: financial stability, and an innovative curriculum that meets the changing needs of today’s learners.
From the financial perspective, I work with the administration to ensure we are able to both invest in assets that bring long term benefit to our district while also protecting us from unanticipated state funding changes.
From the curriculum perspective, today’s tech savvy learners need the right tools and course structure to ensure that they get the most out of their educational experience. The “IPad”, “Flipped Classrooms” and “Vantage” programs are examples of ways that we are advancing tools and course options to best prepare our students.