Get to know the School Board candidates: Mary Buss


On Sept. 9, Minneapolis voters will vote to send six of nine candidates for School Board to the general election on Nov. 4. Three of those six will be elected to at-large seats.

Candidates are listed alphabetically. Address and phone numbers are provided via public filing information; website or email has been provided by the candidate, when applicable.

Carla Bates
Mary Buss
Jill Davis
Thomas Dicks
Sharon Henry-Blythe
Allison Johnson
Lydia Lee
Doug Mann
Kari Reed

Mary Buss
4849 Colfax Ave S

An accomplished professional sculptor, Buss worked on Wall Street in the mid-80s before becoming an artist. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in accounting, both from the University of Iowa. Her art degree is a bachelor of arts in 3D design from Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design, in London.

Buss said her diverse background means “I’m able to think creatively for solutions and also read financial statements.” She said she has “the financial acumen to understand referendum issues and how the budgets are formulated.”

Buss is “on the fence” about the referendum, saying she wants to know what specific objectives would be achieved with the money. “Everyone would like class sizes reduced, but they can’t guarantee that,” she said. “What scares me is it will be spent on more planning.”

Buss spelled out her “three-point plan,” which addresses on the obesity epidemic (with increased play time, more beaks between classes and an emphasis on physical education); focuses on nutrition and eating habits, including more healthy breakfast and lunches; and would stimulate volunteerism, especially by retirees, with tax incentives like a $500 tax voucher for 20–30 hours of work.

Buss also stressed intra-departmental cooperation between the school district and other city agencies like the mayor’s office and the housing authority. “Let’s look at the Minneapolis of the future, the Minneapolis we want for the future, and let’s work together,” she said. “Our kids are our greatest remaining asset; if we short-change them in education, that really scares me.”

Two issues she called “crucial” are class size and federal No Child Left Behind legislation, for which she said “students are taught to test, not to learn.” There should be an emphasis on learning, and a love of learning,” she said. “If they can’t instill that, it doesn’t matter how many kids are in the class.”

She suggests looking to European models — especially Finland — for teaching methods that mix high-achieving and low-performing students and value vocational and career tracks other than college. She called the idea of “all students college-ready” a “false goal.”

“It’s the wrong problem to be solving,” she said, “because not everybody is equipped academically, and there is value in those other professions.”