With a bond referendum right around the corner, Minnesota School Board Association conferences and other board business on the docket this month, new board members Kari Dwinnell and Hollee Saville are diving head first into their new responsibilities on the St. Michael-Albertville school board.
The new members are now two meetings into their four-year tenures, and they’ve shown some preferences in which topics they have some special interest in.
Among other things, Dwinnell expressed an interest in working more closely with the high school, though she said the Feb. 7 bond referendum is currently the top concern in her mind as a board member.
“I am passionate about our children, education and our community, and I believe it is important for community members to go vote,” Dwinnell said.
Saville also encouraged all residents to vote, encouraging them to “read everything and ask questions to ensure they can make an informed decision.”
Saville expressed some different committee interests based on her experience and skills, though she said she’d like to serve on all the committees at some point. She requested to be part of the advisory committee, the principal contract negotiation committee and the legislative action committee.
“I have always enjoyed advocating for children and education and have extensive experience testifying for and against legislation, so the legislative action committee seemed like a good fit for me,” Saville said. “I am eager to help with the equity funding issue and our district’s legislative platform; I hope we can not only increase the basic funding formula, but make the categorical aid more streamlined and fair.”
Now that committee assignments are settled, Dwinnell said she, Saville and the rest of the board have some important challenges to tackle, such as rising enrollment, outdated technology and class sizes.
Dwinnell said she was surprised to learn the school district’s technology is often 10 years old, so technology improvements are high on her list. Additionally, she wants to take steps to ensure students can receive individual attention despite the steep rise in students enrollment over the past 12 years.
“That can be hard when there are 37 students in some classrooms at the high school, as is the case now,” Dwinnell said.
Dwinnell and Saville each expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to serve on the board and their eagerness to get to work on the issues that lie ahead.
“I look forward to working with the students, families, teachers, staff, administrators, and the other school board members over the next four years,” Saville said. “I promise to thoughtfully consider every decision and put students first.”
The next school board meeting takes place Monday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.