Minneapolis school board: How much time is enough?


Question #5 – Current School Board Directors have recently made public their concern for the unrelenting demands on their time and the strain of Board service for the little compensation offered. How much time do you anticipate spending in Board activities, how you will balance professional and family demands within that context, and how will your strengths contribute to a highly functional Board?

The MPS Parents Forum has posed a number of questions to all school board candidates and then published their responses on the forum. Thanks to the MPS Parents Forum for agreeing that the TC Daily Planet may republish these responses.

T. Williams

The job of school board director is demanding. It can be especially demanding for newly elected directors. They have to find time to learn about the organization and the role of a director as a member of a governing body. It is important that this learning takes place while the businesses of the board continue. Much of the learning that will take place will come within the context of relationships with other board members and the superintendent. I came on the board at the end of my professional career, which gave me more time to focus on learning about the organization and building relationships with other board members and the superintendent. Even with more time available I had to organize my time and set priorities for how I would proceed to develop my knowledge about the organization and relate to the community. It forced me to recognize, first that I am one member on a board of seven (soon to be eight and then nine) I don’t need to know everything about everything. I need to learn about my colleagues, their interest and passions as they relate to the work of the District. Being a Director is a shared responsibility, which requires the board to work as a team. Trust among board members and the superintendent is key to building a strong organization with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Competent board members with trusting relationships among themselves and the superintendent don’t have to worry as much about putting in long hours.

My contributions to the board includes institutional and community memory. Although I’ve been on the board for just one term I’ve been in the community and engaged with the schools for decades. I know where we’ve been and what it was like when we were there and how important it is to draw upon those experiences to help build the future. I know what it takes to change institutions and how to engage stakeholder in the process. I don’t function at the extremes. I have been a mediating and conciliating force in the community over time and on the board. The expanded board will surely need someone with my community and institutional memory and my ability to bridge the many divides in our community to help the new board grow and develop in its governance responsibilities.

T. Williams
At Large Candidate
Minneapolis School Board


Hussein Samatar

Current School Board Directors have recently made public their concern for the unrelenting demands on their time and the strain of Board service for the little compensation offered. How much time do you anticipate spending in Board activities, how you will balance professional and family demands within that context, and how will your strengths contribute to a highly functional Board?

I take the concerns of the some of the current Minneapolis Public Schools board members seriously. I want to acknowledge how grateful I am for their sacrifice and their contribution to the creation of a strategic plan and the success of our district.

Those on the next school board will need to make sure that the current organization of school governance can work. That means it can work without destroying the health, family or work life of board members.

The board should not try to do the work of the superintendent. This is a governing board, and I would like to focus my efforts around policy issues. It is our job to hire, inform and evaluate the superintendent. I recognize the importance of responding to concerns of constituents and working in the community to build confidence in our schools. Both can be open-ended commitments, taking as much time as a board member is willing to invest. As the CEO of a successful business I have to manage my time. Although being a member of the school board will be an addition to, not a replacement of, other commitments in my life, I can organize my life to be available, effective and healthy.

I am a husband and father of three children. I take my fatherly duties very seriously. First and foremost I want to the best husband and father that I can be for my wife and children.

I want to take care of my health and mind. I will go to the gym regularly.

I am the founder and executive director of The African Development Center of Minnesota (ADC). ADC is a very inspirational and enterprising community economic development organization, and it needs my work, along with our board, staff and consultants, to keep it successful.

I believe in public education as a key to the development of New Americans and the Democratic Party as its defender.

How much time will it take?

I thank the current school board for investing the time to set a good direction for the district. It will be my job to see to it that we follow through on commitments and be aware of the need for adjustments and to evaluate the superintendent accordingly. The work of the next board will be important, but I believe I can do my part by dedicating about 15 to 20 hours a week carefully focused the board work. Still, I expect that all my waking hours will be spent looking at how we can better educate young people in Minneapolis.


Hussein Samatar
MPS Board Candidate – District 3

web: www.samatarforschoolboard.org


Richard Mammen

2010 School Board Candidate Question #5, May 13th

Current School Board Directors have recently made public their concern for the unrelenting demands on their time and the strain of Board service for the little compensation offered. How much time do you anticipate spending in Board activities, how you will balance professional and family demands within that context, and how will your strengths contribute to a highly functional Board?

First of all, please accept the fact that I have spent the past 4 decades being involved in public service to children and youth in Minneapolis professionally, as a parent and as a member of our community. I have led board governed public and nonprofit agencies as an executive director and I have served on over 40 boards of directors and advisory councils. I understand the work, the compensation and the time commitment. I know how to work “smart” and entered this race with my eyes open and with confidence that I have the personal capacity and supports – as well as the skills – to be successful in helping the Minneapolis Schools and the students they serve. I’ve devoted my life and career to children – this role is an extension of that mission and I will give it all that I have.

I expect the additional role and focus as a school board member to require an average of 20-25 hrs. per week with stronger staff support and improved district communications and customer service. As my children have grown more independent and I’m no longer coaching or attending recitals I have the time to devote. My wife and children are very supportive.

My employment with the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board provides ample personal financial support as well as a strategic advantage in building collaboration and access to other community and public sector leaders, both policy makers and staff. My employers are also supportive.

The greatest strengths that I bring to the board is my experience, honesty and relational network. I’ve done things in this town to engage people in youth development and “system change” with innovation and successful results. I understand that community building is a team sport and that many have to own the goals and play important roles if we are to succeed. I know how to support a group of diverse, opinionated individuals into a stronger collaborative enterprise where open discourse is encouraged, goals are identified, results are shared and accountability is respected. If people expect change I expect their honest involvement and commitment just as they should expect it from me. I’d encourage anyone that is unsure of my positions or character to talk with any of the over 100 community leaders and supporters listed on my website (www.richardmammen.org). They’ve worked with me and know what I will bring to the board.

Again, thank you for this opportunity.

Richard Mammen



Marika Pfefferkorn

Current School Board Directors have recently made public their concern for the unrelenting demands on their time and the strain of Board service for the little compensation offered. How much time do you anticipate spending in Board activities, how you will balance professional and family demands within that context, and how will your strengths contribute to a highly functional Board?

Let me begin by saying it will be a privilege to sit on the school board and bring my skill set to bear on addressing the lingering challenges we face and build upon the promising opportunities that exist with our district; on behalf of all students, for staff, administrators, our partners, the community and the future of education.

On behalf of all the parents, students, staff and administrators dedicating their time to the educating of children, way beyond the school day; my only answer to this question is yes, I will make time to work on the board in fully committed capacity to move the educational agenda of the district forward through policy.

This role requires strong time and task management skills, a strategy I apply in my current work negotiating with the many competing and compelling interests of the community, schools and businesses, and doing so in a collaborative and cooperative manner. I possess the ability to prioritize and focus on really important matters and at the same time effectively communicating these decisions to others so they do not feel left out of the loop, aliened or unrepresented.

My experience on boards, leading boards and training boards in effective practices and policy only strengthens my understanding of the pitfalls and mismanagement boards face-having me on the board is a preventative measure to losing focus and momentum for moving good policy forward.

Board members need to concentrate on and allocate time for:
Mastery of Role:

  • Staying up to date on the latest research and findings-connecting how they apply to MPS

  • Awareness of State and Federal policy actions that effect our district

  • Learning about the needs of all stakeholders and applying that knowledge to policy making

Connecting and Communicating:

  • Meeting, writing, responding, visiting and reflecting

  • Consistent transparency of board roles and expectations for measuring board success

  • Visibility, accessibility, availability

  • Advocating on behalf of the district

Measuring performance of the Superintendent

  • Develop trusting and supportive relationship with superintendent

  • Identify strengths and supporting growth in areas of performance gaps

  • Creating a constant feedback loop so there are no surprises between the board and administration

Focus in on Vision:

  • Aligning policy with budget

  • Planning for the future while responding to immediate needs

•    Creating policy that supports the best interests of all children, staff and administrators equitably through out the district

  • Seeing the strategic plan through

This is not glamourous work we are talking about, but in my belief it couldn’t be more relevant or important.

I was recently asked by a community friend why I would want to run since I don’t have children. I answered I do have children they are the young people in our community that I care for everyday, they are the children spilling out of school buildings, they are the young people at the park playing baseball on the diamond, they are the group of girls I have been mentoring for over 7 years, they are my former students. It take a village to raise a child and significant adults are an integral part of raising up successful children. It is my privilege to share with you my vision for MPS through insight into my beliefs, values and clarity around positions. Let me begin by saying that I believe every child has the right to a high quality education, my conviction, commitment and solutions are founded in this one belief. I believe in every child’s ability to learn and succeed and the necessity for this to occur in safe, equitable classrooms and school buildings. I believe that we have yet to fully engage our students, staff, administrators, families, stakeholders, partners, businesses and city to create collective sustainable solutions. Everyone plays a role, everyone’s responsible, everyone’s accountable I believe eliminating the Achievement Gap means increased and improved learning opportunities for all students, based on best practices, access to data and strategies in place to support expanded learning opportunities. I believe families are our children’s first teachers and their forever teachers, we must engage parents, guardians and caregivers on reciprocal terms. MPS is one part of our city community we need to build bridges, make connections and work together to build public will to stop this disinvestment into the education of our children.

I’d like to share with you what brings me to the table in seeking a seat as an at large candidate, I stepped into the at large race later than most but not unintentionally. Four factors play a role in my decision to pursue this city wide seat at this time:

1.) Confidence in Bernedeia Johnson’s ability to guide the district through the challenges we face by bringing new energy and leadership to our district as the Superintendent, with the backing and support from current and incoming board members.

2.) A pool of qualified candidates that do not bring the same broad scope and multidisciplinary expertise in working with every child and the whole child across systems including Early Childhood, K12 Education, Youth Development, Higher Education, Community Development, Policy and Board Governance; this is what sets me apart, my breadth and depth of knowledge, experience and intimate attachment to this work on behalf of children-genuine passion!

3.) A sense of urgent responsibility to support and maintain the strategic plan; there is a saying “implemented on a whim-discredited by an anecdote. Research and experience tell us that a stable and consistent district is a foundational indicator of a districts ability to resolve the Achievement Gap. Our districts strategic plan was not implemented on a whim, but rather it was built upon the feedback, suggestions and recommendations of students, community, staff, administrators and board. This is our strategic plan and we need to invest adequate time to see our efforts through to fruition. We must trust the process, a very difficult thing to do when we need immediate results-these are our children; even while creating long term solutions.

4.) What we need in the district is a sense of unity not competition, I chose to pursue an at large seat because I want to bring our city together working cooperatively, for the best interests of every child. My past roles have prepared me well to provide leadership in this area, I have lead collaborative work throughout the Twin Cities around community and school partnerships, I facilitate this work through relationship and bridge building, “Every introduction is a new possibility” At issue is trust, trust between students and teachers, teachers and administrators, board and administration and area to area. Trust requires taking risks, the greater risk is losing out on this opportunity to advance the education of our districts children.

5.) The board needs solution oriented leadership, I bring a realistic and truthful lens on what the challenges are, I also have a realistic and truthful perception of what the solutions should be, which means I am open to anything that will solve our lingering challenges and position the district as an epicenter for learning.

Positions and Platform

Eliminate the Achievement Gap:

  • Focus on instruction in the classroom at the point of service between teacher and student

•    Use data to inform decision making based measured performance at the district level, in buildings, in classrooms, by student progress and growth

  • Empower principles to be master teachers and leaders in the building and in every classroom

  • Ask for communities help reaching out beyond our school buildings, beyond our neighborhood and beyond each area

•    Build new partnerships with community and businesses around, mentoring, apprenticeship and service learning-our success is their success

  • Engage students-the Achievement Gap is not their fault, but they are an integral part of the solution

  • Reengage students in the value and relevance of education by making it so; education is value

Safe and Equitable Schools:
•    Education over zero tolerance; the results are in and zero tolerance is a punitive approach to behavior change creating more negative results
•    Invest in and commit to comprehensive anti-bullying staff development, curriculum and program resources; an astounding amount of our GLBTQ students are faced with daily harassment, too many of our English Language Learners (ELL) are isolated and alienated, too many of our special needs students are subject to harassment, too many of our students are exposed to sexual harassment, too many…
•    Our families must trust that every student in our district, in our buildings, in our classrooms and on the bus, will be protected and valued, by other students and by all staff
•    Build cultural competency into all aspects of district culture on the board, in the district, at the building and in the classroom
•    Make visible what’s working and build upon success; include students in the process-they are our best marketers of what’s good and what’s right about MPS
•    Schools must be a place of safety and learning, but not expanded juvenile detention centers or police stations. The school to prison pipeline stops at MPS’s doorstep
Expand Learning Opportunities; Beyond the school day and beyond the school building:
•    Provide time for families, teachers and youth programs to cooperate and discuss pertinent student information, parents have a right to authorize access to student data for youth programs and community partners, the district needs to reduce barriers to allowing this type of partnership
•    Increase support and resources for career exploration, apprenticeship, service learning as part of the districts learning agenda, by reaching out to businesses, private funders, parks and rec. and community

  • Students are engaged around learning when their interests are sparked, this means hands on, experiential opportunities

•    Arts and Athletics are an essential part of the education equation, Many of our students show up to be a part of these aspects of their education-let’s keep them connected, business must help us pick up the slack
Budget Priorities:

  • Aligned with the strategic plan

  • Eliminating the Achievement Gap increases academic outcomes for all students

•    ELL is currently underfunded yet their need for resources continue to expand as new immigrant and refugee populations increase

  • We have a number of un-or-under funded mandates from the federal government, its time to make the call

•    Intensive and intentional professional development focused on each teachers ability to addresses the particular needs and conditions of all children
•    The state needs to raise revenue to hold true to its promise of a quality education system to attract families to the district and business to MN
Charter Schools and MPS:

  • Charter schools are public schools

  • Done well charter schools have a role in the advancement of student achievement and educational reform

  • Often charter schools have a narrow scope which addresses the loss of arts and athletics in traditional public schools

•    Done well Charter schools are not the only answer, but they do provide opportunities as incubators for innovation, that can be translated back into all classrooms
•    What charter schools lack MPS provides; institutional stability, consistent standards, measured accountability and broad scope

  • A relationship between charter schools and MPS is resource leverage

  • We are not in competition, even when resources are scarce

Race to the Top:

  • The MPS should not chase money in direct opposition to strategic efforts-not all money is good money

  • Race to the Top is failing schools across the nation and is not MPS’s answer

New Northside District Headquarters:

  • I supports the boards decision to relocate the district building to the Northside of Minneapolis

  • This was an economically sound decision based on long term cost

  • This was a reasoned decision because of our recent disinvestment in the Northside community

•    The board still has difficulty explaining how we can afford to build a new headquarters when we are shutting down schools, this is a communication gap that needs to be addressed, this is not money taken away from district schools this is restricted funding for infrastructure, which would be completely neglected in times of distress, times like we are facing now. This decision has been a work in progress over the last several years.

You may not agree with all my positions, but they are based in research, knowledge, and experience. I am sure we can find some common ground to build upon. It’s not easy to do but we know what needs to be done and I want your vote to be in a position to build on the momentum created by our current board and move forward the agenda of a high quality education for every child in MPS.

So how does the board do this through policy and governance?

1.) Increased reciprocal and collaborative relationships with partners to leverage resources; driven by the interests of all children

2.) Align policy with budget priorities; the strategic plan is our guide

3.) Work to eliminate gaps and barriers in policies that limit the district’s ability to respond to diverse and complex needs for example; how families are able to contribute back to their schools fundraising and beyond, allowing access for community partners to use facilities, addressing the need for student data to be shared without threatening a student or family privacy

So i’ve laid my platform out before you, but I am just as interested in your thoughts and feedback. I have a question for you. “How do you believe we can ensure that every child in the MPS district succeeds?

I hope each of you will contact me personally or that we will connect in the near future. If anyone wants to contact me personally to discuss these positions please call the number below or send a personal email. It will be my pleasure to discuss whatever issue is of importance to you! I look forward to connecting soon

For more information about my candidacy please visit my facebook page become a friend or a fan


Marika Pfefferkorn

Marika Pfefferkorn
For MPS @ Large
734 E 58th St. Mpls MN 55417 ( contributions )
Stonewall DFL Endorsed and seeking your vote and support as well!


Dick Velner

Time and compensation, a balancing act?

Actually; they mean the same, understanding time is money. Here we are again at the money thing. Board Directors want and need more money. Teachers want and need more money. MPS administration wants and needs more money. Nurses want and need more money. The State Legislature wants and needs more money. It’s time for a story.

A mother and her daughter were having a conversation when the daughter asked her Mom a question: “Mommy, can I have more money in my allowance?” Reply; “Well, Honey, you go and clean your room, then we can talk.” As kids will do Honey replied, “But Mommy, I NEED more money”.

There is such a thing as a Philosophy of Money that tells us money makes us both master and slave. Money creates problems when we do not have it and yet more problems when we do have it. The substance of money is best viewed as nothing more than a medium of exchange Our power over money is real only as we are able to understand its power over us.

Now why does Honey need more money? She is studying government and life’s lessons in school and the issue of money came up. And she is learning fast, there is never enough. Some feel that government is our answer to all problems including money. Somebody offered a government solution that goes like this; “Well, if someone is old enough to receive an allowance they should be old enough to pay taxes”. Honey put things together and came to the conclusion; “I need more money!” Where does it stop?

I will answer the question after the opportunities present themselves if I make the Board. Time and money are not the real issues but rather, like Honey, when we clean our room; when we get our house in order can we can talk about the issue of more.

Dick Velner – Parent, Teacher, Curriculum Principal and School Board Candidate.


David DeGrio

I expect to spend a minimum of 20 hours per week working on school related business. At times it may be significantly more, depending upon the amount of reading and research I do on a topic.

My professional responsibilities allow a lot of flexibility with my time during the day. There are certain times where I will have to be teaching in the classroom or laboratory but outside of those times, I have complete control over my schedule. If there is a pressing Board matter towards which I must direct my attention, I am able to prioritize that work and take care of grading and lecture planning at another time.

My family demands are relatively low and I don’t have to be home everyday at time certain. I am able to spend my afternoon/evening hours working on school related issues or helping other Board members with any preparation we need to do for meetings and discussions.

I will help make the Board highly functional because I have always been willing to do whatever work is necessary. I don’t have to be doing glamorous work or high profile work to be an effective Board member. Oftentimes it is the people who are willing to do the “boring” or “nitty-grittly” work that make a group function efficiently. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and do whatever work is necessary.


David DeGrio, At-Large Candidate for MPSB

StonewallDFL and MFT59 Endorsed


Chandra Baker

I am very confident in my ability to manage and balance the professional and family demands. I have always managed multiple responsibilities; at one point I was the director of Oak Park Neighborhood Center, a single mom of three and a fulltime student.  I am great at time management and prioritizing. I actually love organizational development and the evaluation of system effectiveness.   Recently I co-led Pillsbury United’s quality review with the Minnesota Council on Quality. This process looked at best practices that drive organizational excellence.  I am one step away from being an evaluator for the council utilizing the Malcolm Baldride evaluation tool.  I share that to say, I believe this is a very needed strength on the board and it would certainly contribute to the development of a high functioning board.

I am very fortunate to have an extremely supportive husband and extended family. My husband adjusted his work schedule in support of my decision to run for school board. He is now home early and can greet the kids when they arrive home from school. We also have designated work hours in our family and typically have a family night every Friday. We made that decision a couple of years ago and it is something that all of us look forward to.

My job is just as supportive. When I was exploring if I should run for the school board, I met with my boss Tony Wagner. He was 100% supportive of my decision. He also shared with me his experience when he ran for state representative.  When he ran he had just became the president of Pillsbury United and he also had the support of the board. So, he personally understands the demand and the balance. He also shared (in summary) that community work is all about encouraging and supporting civic engagement at every level- and what a great example my candidacy would be.  I have worked at Pillsbury United Communities for ten years and one of the great benefits has been the flexibility.

I am not naive to the demands and responsibilities of being a school board director. I am prepared and capable of meeting the demands.

Chanda Smith Baker
At Large Candidate MPS


Jenny Arneson

I anticipate this board position to be full-time and am prepared to dedicate at least that much time to it. I will not be balancing other employment responsibilities and am fortunate to be in a position where the compensation rate is not an issue.

My professional background is social work, a field known for high demand, little pay, fewer resources and high burn-out. This career has given me the skills necessary to balance my professional and personal lives.

To move forward and make progress, the school board will benefit from board members who can devote their full attention to the tasks at hand.

Jenny Arneson


Mohamud Noor

I expect to spend at least 20 hours a week on School Board related matters. I understand School Board requires a significant time commitment. The current School Board Directors have noted that can it be challenging at times, however, most of them will tell you there are great rewards in helping students and giving back to the community. Otherwise, none of the candidates would want to run for an office that draws more criticism than praise.

For the last 10 years, I have worked in children and families services at Minnesota Department of Human Services and Hennepin Count. I have always been actively involved in the community. I was appointed in 2002 to serves as a board member for the Council on Black Minnesotans, a non-cabinet agency that makes recommendations to Governor and legislature on improving economic/social conditions of black Minnesotans. I have has also served as Board of Directors Chair for the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, on the Board of Directors of Whittier Alliance and on the Board of Governors of The Children’s Theatre Company. I also volunteer in tutoring students in math and science. I believe I can balance my professional and family demands based on past experience.

The contributions of each School Board Director are critical to the board’s overall effectiveness. Cooperation is the key to successful School Board governance. There must be a solid trust between the School Board and the senior district administrators for our children to receive a full quality education. I believe the school leadership must listen and be accountable to the public.

Finally, I could not have accomplished any of these without the full support of my family. My wife, Farhiya Del (MPS employee) provides me with the peace of mind and encouragement that allow me to continue with community services.

It is an honor to be a candidate for Minneapolis School Board and I hope to earn your support. Thank you!

Mohamud Noor


Marcia Thomas

Current School Board Directors have recently made public their concern for the unrelenting demands on their time and the strain of Board service for the little compensation offered. How much time do you anticipate spending in Board activities, how you will balance professional and family demands within that context, and how will your strengths contribute to a highly functional Board?

The position of Board director is an extremely important job. I know that the work of school board director extends far beyond Tuesday night board meetings. It includes committee meetings, day long and weekend long study sessions, community meetings, researching new ideas around education, and doing the homework before attending to ensure meetings are as productive as possible. It can easily be a full time position and I’m prepared to treat it as such. I am fortunate to have the flexibility and support in my personal life that allows me to treat this as my primary job.

My leadership style is participatory. I feel strongly that open communication and inclusivity are necessary for building trust. I am able to
listen to others and approach problem solving with diplomacy. I am able to work with people who disagree with me because I am respected for my integrity. In addition, my knowledge of child development and community involvement make me uniquely prepared for developing policy informed by community and academic needs.

Marcia Thomas

Candidate for Minneapolis School Board, District 1



Alberto Monserrate

Current School Board Directors have recently made public their concern for the unrelenting demands on their time and the strain of Board service for the little compensation offered. How much time do you anticipate spending in Board activities, how you will balance professional and family demands within that context, and how will your strengths contribute to a highly functional Board?

I expect to spend 20-25 hours a week at the MPS board. I will continie in my role as CEO at at Latino Communications Network (LCN media), but I have a great management team and staff that run the day to day operations. I focus on strategy and finance at LCN, but no longer run the day to day operations and haven’t for two years. I expect to resign to some of the non-profit boards that I volunteer to, in order to do my job at the MPS BOA effectively. I’ve been averaging 20-25 hours a week to running for the board and I’m ready to continue doing this.

I have over 20 years of management, finance, school and non profit board experience. I have a long history of proven leadership. I work well putting teams together of people who disagree on some things, but have worked for a common good. As a finance person I will make sure I learn the budget in detail and as a communications person I will review that we’re communicating with MPS stakeholders effectively. As a Latino media leader I will ensure that under represented communities are effectively communicated to and listened to.

I had a successful 10 year career as a Financial Advisor. But, after 10 years in corporate America, I decided to co-found Latino Communications Network to fulfill my entrepreneurial dreams, and out of a desire to re-connect with the Latino community during challenging times. Besides spending time with my two children, Carlos and Alycia, I have volunteered for several organizations: The Make A Wish Foundation, as a consultant and trainer for the Neighborhood Development Center; as a board member and former Chair of Hiawatha Leadership Academy and as a board member for the Citizens League. I have been involved as a volunteer in many education-related roles for over 15 years. I served as a parent representative in key Minnesota Department of Education committees dealing with state and federal policy, I helped make recommendations to President Obama’s Race to the Top application for federal funds, and I contributed to the development of MPS’s current strategic plan.

I don’t believe the board should micro manage staff, but it needs to effectively lead administrative staff. Every board member brings value and unique experiences to the board and I’ll encourage board members to focus on their strengths and that even if we will disagree from time to time, that we every board members opinion is valued and considered. But the board must make sure that if focuses on being a governing board and not a managing board if it wants to continue to be effective. If the MPS board focuses well on its role, it can plan more effectively on its future vision where all our students can learn to the best of their ability, and better avoid negative unintended policyconsequences, or constantly put out fires.

Alberto Monserrate
Candidate for Minneapolis School Board
District 5
Facebook: www.facebook.com/albertomonserrateschool



Doug Mann

Current School Board Directors have recently made public their concern for the unrelenting demands on their time and the strain of Board service for the little compensation offered. How much time do you anticipate spending in Board activities, how you will balance professional and family demands within that context, and how will your strengths contribute to a highly functional Board?

I expect to spend 10 to 20 hours per week on Board-related activities, and am willing to limit time spent in other employment. I have attended orientations for Board candidates in years past where we were informed that board members usually spend about 10 to 20 hours per MONTH on board-related activities, and as much as 40 hours per month in exceptional cirucumstances.

It is my impression that the Board of Directors make decisions which require expertise in many areas, and Board members rely heavily on advice from administrative employees. I know enough about some of the legal and administrative environment in which I will be working to know there is a lot that I do not know. And I will want to carefully examine proposals for board action from the administration.

After I am elected to the Board, I expect to put in more time than is minimally expected of the Board members because I am calling for systemic changes. I emphasize two reforms that the DFL and candidates seeking its endorsement for the board do not publically support: Ending the practice of firing and replacing new teachers before they finish their 3 year probationary period and elimination of watered-down curriculum tracks that result from the district’s ability grouping practices.

I have found that in a variety of situations, organizations operate the way they do, and not otherwise, for a reason. And I am focusing the issues of teacher stability and curriculums tracks for a reason: Current district practices undermine the quality of education available to a majority of students and have a disparately negative effect on students of color as well as low-income students in all racial / ethnic groups.

-Doug Mann



Rebecca Gagnon

Current School Board Directors have recently made public their concern for the unrelenting demands on their time and the strain of Board service for the little compensation offered. How much time do you anticipate spending in Board activities, how you will balance professional and family demands within that context, and how will your strengths contribute to a highly functional Board?

The commitment to school board consists of not only preparation and school board meetings, but venturing out into the MPS community. We must be engaged within the District to know what is important to our constituency, and as a school board member, we must be accessible to our parents so they can share their experiences, insights and ideas with us. The time required to be an effective school board member includes ample time within the community at District, Area/Zone, school, and community events. The time commitment, I expect, would be between 15-30 hours a week. As a mom of three children at three schools (high school, middle school, and kindergarten), I am actively involved in their school communities. I also work a part-time job as Minister of Children and Families at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Along with my community volunteering (Meals on Wheels driver, Loaves and Fishes, Greater Metro Crisis Nursery childcare volunteer, etc.), I keep a busy schedule. My family is very supportive, and I am fortunate to have children that are old enough to help me at home and to watch out for each other. I do not foresee a problem balancing my time between family, work, and school board. I entered the school board race less than three weeks ago because my husband and I wanted to think long and hard, laying out our schedules and upcoming commitments, to make an honest decision about whether I had the time to perform the duties of school board member. After a thoughtful process, I did run.

As an “At-Large” School Board Candidate, I bring many skills to the table. I am organized, a global thinker, a researcher, a listener, and rational and thoughtful. I certainly have my opinions and perspectives on the issues, and I have never been shy to give my opinion or debate a matter, but I am also fair and respectful of other opinions. I am hard working and will collaborate with my fellow board members. I am a good communicator and believe we should all be concerned about our district as a whole, not as three areas/zones, not as the special-ed community or the NLL community. My background of involvement in public schools outside of Minneapolis allows me a fresh perspective; my micro and macro involvement within MPS gives me an appreciation for the District’s struggles, accomplishment, goals, and the need to not CHANGE our path but forge ahead and strengthen our conviction to achieve our strategic planning goals.

Rebecca Gagnon
At-Large School Board Candidate